With tensions high, Ban urges ‘real’ dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow to resolve crisis

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov of Ukraine at a press encounter in the capital Kyiv. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

21 March 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged “real dialogue” between Kyiv and Moscow to peacefully resolve the current crisis, during a visit to the Ukrainian capital following discussions with Russian officials yesterday.

“These are some of the most dramatic and difficult times in the history of Ukraine,” Mr. Ban said during a press encounter in Kyiv. “Tensions are high. Lives have been lost.”

The Secretary-General said he is seriously concerned at both the tense situation within parts of Ukraine as well as between it and Russia, where he met yesterday with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“This current crisis can only be resolved through peaceful diplomatic solutions based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and a determined statesmanlike pursuit of peace and security,” he stated.

“There has to be a real dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow.”

Months of political unrest in Ukraine led to the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by increased tensions in the country’s autonomous region of Crimea, where additional Russian military were recently deployed and a secession referendum was held this past Sunday.

Reiterating a message he delivered in Moscow, Mr. Ban said that “at times like these,” it is vital that all parties refrain from any provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation.

“Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. Intimidation by radical elements has to be firmly prevented. I count on all parties in Ukraine to ensure that this is the case.”

While he conveyed his concerns to Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Mr. Ban also said how encouraged he was to see signs of greater inclusion, especially the desire to re-introduce Russian as one of Ukraine’s official languages. “Inclusiveness is critical to the restoration of stability to your country,” he noted.

While in Kyiv, the Secretary-General also met with the head of the UN human rights monitoring mission that has been deployed in the country, including in the eastern and southern regions.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic arrived today in Crimea for a two-day visit to lay the groundwork for the monitoring mission to set up a presence in that region.

“As I have said repeatedly, it is critical that the human rights of all people in Ukraine, especially minorities, be respected and protected,” said Mr. Ban. He also told the Acting President that the UN stands ready to assist, along with other organizations, with the upcoming elections, adding that everything must be done to ensure that these elections are transparent, free and fair so that all Ukrainians accept the results.

“The world is watching and history will judge us on how we assume our responsibilities and our actions as they relate to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” stated the UN chief.


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