Kyiv, Ukraine

21 March 2014

Full transcript of Secretary-General's press encounter in Kyiv

Thank you very much for your kind hospitality and receiving me at such short notice. I thank you very much.

This is my second visit to Ukraine as Secretary-General of the United Nations. While I am very pleased and happy to be back to this great country, I come to Kyiv with a very heavy heart. 

These are some of the most dramatic and difficult times in the history of Ukraine. 

Tensions are high.

Lives have been lost. I express my deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.

I am very seriously concerned at both the tense situation within parts of your country and between Ukraine and Russia.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations it is my responsibility and duty to do my utmost to promote international peace and security.

As you know, yesterday, I was in Moscow where I met with President [Vladimir] Putin and Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov. I conveyed to President Putin the same consistent message I have been repeating since the beginning of the crisis.

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.

There has to be a real genuine and constructive dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow. 

As I also said in Moscow, at times like this 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. 

I conveyed to Acting President Turchynov my concerns but also said how encouraged I was to see signs of greater inclusion, especially the desire to re-introduce Russian as one of the official languages of Ukraine.

Inclusiveness is critical to the restoration of stability to your country.

Earlier this morning, I met with the head of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission.

I am pleased that the team has been deployed to all parts of the country, including the east and south regions. I very much hope that their mission will be supported by all.

In that regard, I am heartened to hear that my Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, has arrived in Crimea.

As I have said repeatedly, it is critical that the human rights of all people in Ukraine, especially minorities, be respected and protected.

I also told the Acting President that the United Nations stands ready to assist, along with other organizations, with the upcoming elections. Everything must be done to ensure that these elections are transparent, free and fair so that all Ukrainians accept the results.

During my stay here today and tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Prime Minister, the Acting Minister of Defence, Parliamentarians and representatives of civil society, and I very much look forward to those discussions.

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 United Nations Charter.

Your Excellency, Mr. Acting President, please rest assured that I will do whatever I can to help restore good relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation – two brotherly countries and two founding members of the United Nations.  

Thank you for your attention, and I’ll be happy to take some questions.

Q: A question for you, Mr. Secretary-General, on whether the United Nations Security Council considers the opportunity to [inaudible] on the right to veto the decisions of United Nations Security Council, and what the United Nations to stop the annexation of southern and eastern parts of Ukraine.

SG: I am deeply concerned over the situation and what has happened during the last four months since the beginning of this crisis. And I have also take note of the result of the Security Council debate where the resolution was vetoed, was not adopted, by a veto. What is important at this time is that, as I have been repeatedly saying, the most important thing is that Ukraine and Russian authorities should sit down together and engage in direct and constructive dialogue. This is what I have advised President Putin and have also advised the Acting President today and yesterday.

The longer time the process of resolving these issues through peaceful resolution and dialogue [takes], the greater risk there will be for the uncontrollable situation beyond these two countries and beyond the region.

That is why I have visited Moscow and Kyiv. At the same time, all the parties should refrain from making any unnecessarily high rhetoric which may be inflammatory. All this rhetoric is not helpful; it may only generate emotions which may lead to an uncontrollable situation.

Q: [inaudible about President Putin]

SG: I am not in a position to predict any possible reactions or future course of action by President Putin. What I can tell you at this time is that I have conveyed my own, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and also the international community’s very serious concerns that this situation must be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful manner.

His Government and the Ukrainian Government should resolve this issue peacefully through dialogue before it can develop into an uncontrollable situation. It has become a regional and even a global issue.

The political emotions among the countries and between the actors have been very much hardened. It is impacting all the work of the international community, the United Nations.

We have to resolve this issue quickly so that the leaders’ time and energy and resources could be reserved for more constructive and better use for development and humanity and humanitarian assistance, and resolving other crises like the situations in Syria and the Central African Republic.