Noting that the ongoing political crisis and escalating violence in eastern Ukraine was a top priority for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), its newly installed Chairperson-in-Office today urged full adherence to the ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-separatist Russian forces to facilitate the withdrawal by both sides of heavy weapons and equipment from the area and other steps agreed to earlier in the month.
Ukraine was at a critical juncture, and the truce announced on 12 February by the leaders of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, France and Germany was the “best available road map to bring about calm”, and enable the OSCE special monitoring and verification mission to carry out its mandate under the Minsk agreements, Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, said in a briefing to the Security Council.
“We hope that the political will displayed by the signatories to the Package of Measures in Minsk will prevail to ensure the guns are silenced and human suffering is eased,” he told the 15-member body.
OSCE had worked continuously to find a diplomatic solution, he said, stressing that the highly divisive crisis in Ukraine had highlighted OSCE’s enduring strengths and advantages to bridge growing rifts and facilitate cooperative solutions, thus demonstrating its relevance to European security.
OSCE had proved itself capable of substantive engagement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, he said. The deployment of its special monitoring mission in Ukraine and the observer mission at the Russian checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk along the Ukrainian-Russian border illustrated the organization’s ability to launch collective action even during a highly divisive crisis.
Turning to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, he emphasized the importance of coordination and cooperation between OSCE and the relevant United Nations agencies to identify urgent needs. Furthermore, the detrimental impact of that crisis on the broader OSCE agenda, in particular on the protracted conflicts in Moldova and southern Caucasus, must not be overlooked.
Addressing prolonged conflicts was high on Serbia’s agenda as current OSCE Chair, he said, adding that small but concrete steps would help improve trust and confidence among the parties and could pave the way for addressing problems effectively.
He expressed particular concern over recent developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, noting that he met earlier this month with the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group set up to discuss steps to decrease tensions in the region and facilitate high-level dialogue towards a peaceful settlement.
OSCE stood ready to make its experiences in those areas available to the United Nations High-level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations, he said, and added that the body’s antiterrorism activities was another example of the substantial contribution of regional organizations in support of United Nations-led efforts. OSCE was committed to creating new synergies with the United Nations in key regions of common interest, including Eastern Europe, South-East Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan, as well as the southern Mediterranean.
Taking the floor after Mr. Dačić’s briefing, Council members lauded OSCE efforts in building peace and stability in the region and emphasized the importance of ensuring safe and unfettered access for the organization’s monitors in Ukraine. They also voiced their commitment to deepening cooperation between the United Nations and OSCE.
Making statements were the representatives of the Russian Federation, Spain, Lithuania, Chile, New Zealand, France, United Kingdom, Chad, Nigeria, Jordan, Angola, Venezuela, United States, Malaysia and China.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that his country had always championed cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should complement the world organization in its work with efforts carried out in an impartial way to help restore security in Europe, fight the illicit trade in drugs, monitor elections, and assist in other essential areas. In Ukraine, the OSCE must facilitate a move away from confrontation and towards dialogue, as part of updating the European security system, including in a way that prevented States from strengthening their security to the detriment of others. Integration issues must be discussed, as well as reform of the OSCE reform. He welcomed OSCE’s role and its monitoring mission in Ukraine. Pressure on the monitors was unacceptable and their impartial presence must be further extended, including into areas outside of south-eastern Ukraine. At border points, the monitors were tracking humanitarian needs, refugee flows and a lack of military crossings. He expressed support for the Minsk agreements.
JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain) also recognized the importance of cooperation with regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. This was particularly true of OSCE. His country had signed the Helsinki Final Act and presided over the organization. Many of the priorities the Chair had described were Spain’s priorities. He acknowledged the great burden currently upon the OSCE due to the Ukraine crisis and he pledged continuing support. He supported in particular the policy of addressing small steps ahead of major issues, as well as OSCE efforts in suppressing drug trafficking and other ills in the region. Terrorism must be fought in a multifaceted way that included combatting intolerance and promoting dialogue, following the model of some initiatives in which Spain was a key player. Ukraine had shown, furthermore, that transparency in armaments was important to peace and stability in Europe.
OSKARAS JUSYS (Lithuania) recalled the fundamental principles agreed upon in the Helsinki Final Act that affirmed non-use of force, non-infringement on sovereignty and respect for human rights in the region. He called for recommitment to those foundations of the OSCE and the United Nations, which he said had been seriously damaged by what he called the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine, including the occupation of Crimea. Calling on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations under the Minsk agreements, he stressed that the OSCE monitoring mission must be allowed to carry out fully its monitoring and verification functions, including effective monitoring of the Russian-Ukrainian border. He expressed concern, as well, over the protracted conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the hindering of the Moldovan European integration process and what he called the “barely masked” annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, and asked the Chairperson to further elaborate the OSCE view on those issues. Fanning protracted conflicts was threatening the European system of conventional arms control and confidence-building measures. “The situation is perilous,” he said.
CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile) said collective action to maintain peace and security must be strengthened through cooperation with regional organizations. OSCE values and norms were consistent with the United Nations; national sovereignty must be respected. In addition, it was important to rehabilitate fractured societies, and in that context, gender perspectives must be incorporated in a cross-cutting manner. He praised OSCE contributions in areas of concern to the Council, as well as situations not on its agenda, calling it a “space for dialogue” in its region.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) said OSCE had core functions that aligned across the spectrum of the functions of the Council. Supporting the organization’s engagement in resolving the crisis in Ukraine, she urged the Council to work towards ensuring that all parties fulfilled their commitments to the Minsk agreements. It was unacceptable that the OSCE monitoring mission lacked security guarantees in certain areas of its operations. The Russian Federation must pressure the separatist groups to comply with what had been agreed.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the Ukraine crisis required that OSCE play a full role and the body was up to the task. Amid worsening security and humanitarian conditions, there was no alternative to silencing weapons. OSCE should work towards ensuring that all parties abided by their commitments under the Minsk agreements. OSCE should be able to count on the cooperation of the United Nations. France stood ready to help both organizations strengthen such a partnership. OSCE efforts to resolve other conflicts needed the continued support of the international community. The organization covered a vast space that shared values that were at the heart of the United Nations.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the work of the OSCE monitoring mission had been invaluable to making visible the challenges of ensuring peace and security in Ukraine. Since the signing of the Minsk agreements, OSCE had witnessed a series of breaches of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Convoys were still crossing the international border and shelling continued in many areas, he said, and expressed deep concern over the aggressive behaviour by the separatists towards the monitors. The Council fully supported the mission and should unequivocally condemn such threats. As a signatory to the Minsk agreements, the Russian Federation must exercise its influence to ensure that the separatists complied with their commitments, while also fulfilling its own undertakings. However, there were few signs of the Russian Federation’s constructive role. A year after the annexation of Crimea, the crisis threatened the area beyond the Black Sea.
MADELEINE ANDEBENG LABEU ALINGUE (Chad) said that in the complex security environment following the cold war, cooperation with regional organizations had become more important. She welcomed OSCE efforts in the Ukraine and encouraged it to continue to work for a ceasefire and a lasting settlement. All parties must show restraint, affirming respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Beyond Ukraine, she welcomed OSCE’s role in rule of law, confidence-building and other issues, particularly in the Balkans, Azerbaijan and other areas. She welcomed the priority of stemming terrorism and called for special attention to be paid to foreign terrorist fighters. Welcoming OSCE initiatives on youth in that context, she pointed to many cross-cutting issues on which OSCE could share its experience with organizations in other regions.
KAYODE LARO (Nigeria) said that OSCE was making significant contributions as a regional organization in cooperation with the United Nations. On Ukraine, all parties should cooperate with the OSCE monitoring mission and redouble efforts to find a political solution. He applauded OSCE’s work in attempting to reduce tensions in many situations, as well as its efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism, welcoming particularly the focus on community policing. He expressed support for the empowerment of women and respect for all human rights in the fight against terrorism.
EIHAB OMAISH (Jordan) encouraged OSCE to continue its efforts to help resolve conflicts in Europe and Central Asia in a peaceful, comprehensive manner. He supported all forms of cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations according to the principles of Chapter VIII. He looked forward to further progress in resolving the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in a way that preserved the unity and sovereignty of the Azeri territories consistent with Council resolutions. He also welcomed promotion of human rights in the southern Caucasus, Afghanistan and the Balkans, where he hoped for good-neighbourly relations. He called for intensification of cooperation with OSCE in countering terrorism, and pledged his country’s continued support for cooperation between that organization and the United Nations on a wide range of issues.
JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said cooperation with regional organizations such as OSCE strengthened the United Nations ability to maintain international peace and security. Forty years after the conclusion of the Helsinki Final Act, OSCE continued to play a key role in the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian regions. Its efforts in Kosovo, the Balkans, the Azeri-Armenian conflict and Ukraine, in particular, were laudable. He expressed hope that OSCE would be able to assist more effectively in ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. He urged the organization to bolster cooperation with African regional and subregional organizations in addressing the many challenges the continent confronted.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) supported the principles espoused by OSCE, and said his country would extend full cooperation to the organization in its efforts to boost peace and security. Despite the diversity of its membership, OSCE had succeeded in promoting dialogue and cooperation. On Ukraine, he said all parties to the Minsk agreements must abide by their commitments and work towards addressing the root causes and other dimensions of the conflict. The complex and multifaceted challenges before the world today required full adherence to the core founding documents of the United Nations and OSCE.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) said OSCE had taken on a difficult set of responsibilities in Ukraine and could uniquely shed light on those who undermined the path to peace. It was imperative that OSCE observers be granted safe and unfettered access in monitoring and verifying the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons and formations. It was critical to recognize and support the OSCE mission in Ukraine as part of the larger imperative of building cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. OSCE field missions supported the world’s collective respect for human rights, he said, and welcomed collaboration among different approaches to countering violence and extremism.
SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) encouraged OSCE to continue its valuable cooperation with the United Nations consistent with the principles of Chapter VIII of the Charter. She welcomed, in particular, the Chairman’s focus on dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes and congratulated OSCE on receiving awards for its efforts in Ukraine. Her country was particularly grateful for OSCE’s work in assisting recovery of the remains of passengers of the downed Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine last year. She called on all parties to allow OSCE to do its work in Ukraine unhindered. She also praised OSCE efforts in the Balkans and conflicts in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Moldova, and expressed hope that the organization could make progress in resolving such issues peacefully. She also hoped for positive results for OSCE initiatives in countering extremism, condemned terrorism and called for it to be addressed in a comprehensive manner, beyond the use of force alone. Her country would continue to support OSCE cooperation with the United Nations.
LIU JIEYI (China) welcomed OSCE’s role in peaceful settlement of disputes and fighting terrorism. He supported the quest of the United Nations to deepen cooperation with such regional organizations, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations. On Ukraine, he said it was critical to adhere to efforts for a political settlement that accounted for the interests of all the parties concerned, in a balanced way.
Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), taking the floor a second time, objected to what he called the misuse of today’s meeting to present slanted views of the situation on Ukraine, particularly on the part of the United Kingdom and United States. The conflict in Ukraine was complex and lessons must be drawn from previous post-cold war situations.
THOMAS MEEK (United Kingdom), also taking the floor again, said that his country’s position was clear: to support full implementation of the Minsk agreements. When he saw clear breaches of agreements, he had to state it. He called again on all parties to fully implement the accords.
Responding to the statements made by Council members, Mr. DAČIĆ said he would work towards strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and OSCE. As the only regional security organization present in Ukraine, OSCE needed the full cooperation of the United Nations. The organization would utilize existing formats to resolve conflicts in the region, and as its Chair, Serbia would continue OSCE’s engagement on the ground. Just a few months before the crisis in Ukraine, there had been no warnings, which underscored the complexity of anticipation. Discussions were under way on how best to improve the effectiveness of OSCE’s role in verifying and monitoring the terms of the Minsk agreements and other issues. The organization stood ready to continue dialogue with the Council to provide updates on its work.