Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in response to the Special Representative of the Chairperson-In-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, Ambassador Martin Sajdik, 1069th Special Meeting of the Permanent Council
I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming Ambassador Sajdik to the Permanent Council. We thank him for the comprehensive update he has provided on the activities of the Trilateral Contact Group and its associated working groups.
Alongside the Special Monitoring Mission, the Trilateral Contact Group has, since its inception, played a crucial role in addressing the various challenges stemming from the ongoing crisis in and around Ukraine. Foremost among the many valuable contributions the Group has made to de-escalation has been its role in the signing of the Minsk Agreements, which provide the only realistic foundation upon which a sustainable settlement of the crisis can be built.
Though the situation in eastern Ukraine remains fragile and hostilities are still being recorded, we welcome the relative calm of the past weeks and the continuing broad adherence to the ceasefire. It remains our hope that this positive trend will endure in the period ahead, ultimately leading to the ceasefire’s sustainability and irreversibility. In light of the ongoing observation by the SMM of the regular movement of heavy weapons in violation of the withdrawal lines, we wish to underline once more the urgent need for genuine and sincere steps towards further de-escalation. We remain firmly convinced that the only way to ensure a peaceful and lasting settlement of the crisis in and around Ukraine is full and unconditional adherence by all to the Minsk Agreements. To this end we expect hostilities to completely cease, heavy weapons to be fully withdrawn and the provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures to be implemented in good faith.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to emphasize yet again that the crisis in and around Ukraine needs to be settled through peaceful diplomatic means while respecting the country’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, as well as its independence, sovereignty and political unity, in line with our shared OSCE commitments and international law.
We welcome and support the ongoing meetings of the four working groups on the security, political, socioeconomic and humanitarian aspects of the Minsk Agreements. We continue to believe that the working groups of the Trilateral Contact Group are the best medium to ensure, through dialogue, the comprehensive and holistic implementation of these agreements by all concerned. We regret that no settlement could be reached on the withdrawal of tanks and heavy weapons below 100 mm during the eleventh meeting of the Security Working Group on September 22nd. We sincerely hope that further progress can be made on the resolution of this critical issue, along with provisions for effective verification by the SMM, during today’s meeting of the working group.
We also anticipate additional concrete deliverables from the other working groups in the period ahead, inter alia on the issues of the economic reconstruction of Donbass as well as the provision of increased humanitarian assistance to eastern Ukraine in line with international standards. In this connection we reiterate our concern over the decisions to hold local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts on 18 October and 1 November, and hope that this matter can be satisfactorily resolved in the Political Working Group so as to enable these elections to be conducted in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards, with ODIHR’s support and monitoring. It remains our view that the ongoing talks in the working groups will certainly contribute to furthering the processes of inclusive political dialogue and comprehensive reform in Ukraine, thus facilitating a sustainable settlement of the crisis.
Before concluding I would like to emphasize once more the utmost importance we place on the safety and security of the SMM’s monitors and staff. Maximum restraint continues to be required on the ground in order to ensure this. Last week we witnessed yet another instance of a monitor team being threatened at gunpoint. This is simply not acceptable. The similarly intolerable practice of jamming the Mission’s UAVs must also come to an end. We agree with Ambassador Sajdik that the SMM requires full, unhindered and secure access throughout Ukraine. In our view, this should include the regions along the Ukraine-Russia state border.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Ambassador Sajdik for his valuable work within the Trilateral Contact Group, as well as his excellent cooperation with the SMM and Chief Monitor Ambassador Apakan. We wish Ambassador Sajdik, his colleagues in the Trilateral Contact Group and the co-ordinators of the four working groups every success in their ongoing efforts.