21 February 2017 - Conflicts in Europe: France is committed to preserving peace [fr]
Open debate on conflicts in Europe - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 21 February 2017
I should like to begin by warmly thanking the Secretaries- General of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OECD) and the European External Action Service of the European Union for their very enlightening briefings.
The theme of conflicts in Europe has a special resonance for my country, which has twice been at the heart of world conflicts, the outbreak of which occurred on the European continent. With this painful legacy, France is all the more attached to the preservation of peace and security in Europe, as well as to the instruments we have collectively put in place to defend them and to prevent the resurgence of the horrors of war. I am thinking in particular of the Charter of the United Nations and its principles concerning the peaceful resolution of conflicts and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States; the Helsinki agreements and the recognition by all the OECD countries of the inviolability of the borders of Europe and the multidimensional dimension of security; and the European Union and the building of a common destiny among all its members.
Recent history, however, shows us that we cannot, either today or yesterday, consider the maintenanceof peace and security in Europe as a given. The annexation of the Crimea and the conflict in the Donbas unfortunately illustrate the fact that the violation of the territorial integrity of a European State is still possible. The persistence of so-called frozen conflicts in Nagorno Karabakh, Transnistria and Georgia poses an ongoing threat to the security of the countries concerned and their regions. Recent tensions in the Balkans are a cause for genuine concern. Finally, the lack of a settlement of the issue of Cyrpus — a country within the European Union — remains a source of great dissatisfaction.
Yet today we have the tools necessary to ensure peace and security on the European continent. Above all, in Europe as in the rest of the world, the Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and international security. It is important for everyone to assume their responsibilities so that it can fully exercise its prerogatives on European issues, which unfortunately has not always been the case in recent months. The Secretary-General is, we believe, fully justified in reminding the Security Council of its obligations and responsibilities when he deems it necessary. The OSCE is an active and effective organization that has, inter alia, demonstrated its ability to rise to the challenge by playing a central role in managing the crisis in Ukraine. It is important to respect the mandates that has been assigned to it. Finally, the European Union is today an essential player in the multipolar world and a pillar of multilateralism, whose community of values and interests shared with the United Nations is comprehensive. Its leading role in stabilizing its direct neighbourhood must be fully recognized and supported.
Strengthened by these powerful and adapted tools, we must maintain our mobilization to make the whole of Europe a stable, peaceful and conflict-free continent.
In Ukraine, we are tirelessly pursuing, alongside our German partners, our mediation efforts in the Normandy format in support of the full implementation of the Minsk accords, which we all agree to be the sole avenue to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The renewed tensions over the past few weeks, particularly around the town of Avdiivka, are a cause of great concern to us, particularly as a result of the resurgence of civilian and military casualties and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. We also regret the decision of the Russian authorities to recognize official documents issued by the de facto authorities of certain zones in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which runs counter to the spirit of the Minsk accords.
The ministerial meeting in Normandy format held on Saturday in Munich made it possible to agree on specific commitments whose aim is to promote a rapid improvement of the situation on the ground. These commitments include the effective implementation of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the disengagement of forces and the guarantee of unrestricted access to OSCE observers. The French, German, Ukrainian and Russian Ministers also supported the rapid exchange of prisoners and the guarantee of access to places of detention by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is essential that these measures be implemented in a comprehensive and timely manner and we count on the support unanimous support of the Council to that end. Discussions are continuing within the Normandy format to quickly adopt a road map, as foreseen by the Heads of State and Government. Our shared conviction with Germany remains that the only way forward is to advance concomitantly on the security and political aspects of the Minsk accords. We remain more determined than ever to pursue our common efforts within the Normandy format, because each result obtained on the ground counts and because today we have no alternative solution to support the implementation of the agreements Minsk. The European sanctions put in place at the beginning of the crisis are linked to the full implementation of the latter. Finally, I reiterate our commitment to defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. I recall that France strongly condemns and does not recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimea and Sevastopol.
In Georgia and Moldova, we support the search for solutions to frozen conflicts, while respecting the territorial integrity of those States. We are convinced of the central role of the OSCE in preventing any escalation on the ground and allowing for a lasting settlement through negotiations in the framework of the Geneva international discussions for Georgia and the so-called 5+2 process for Moldova.
With regard to Nagorno Karabakh, France is fully committed to the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group. As co-Chair of the Group, our country is resolved to work with its Russian and American partners to ensure respect for the ceasefire, the establishment of confidence-building measures on the ground and the resumption of political negotiations as soon as possible, which is the only way to achieve a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict.
In the Balkans, the European Union plays a lead role in promoting the normalization of relations among neighbouring countries and reducing internal tensions among communities. In Kosovo and Serbia, the prospect of rapprochement with the European Union and the Union-facilitated dialogue today constitutes the main vector for the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and the benefits that accompany this process for the daily life of the people.
The effective implementation of the agreements concluded and the effective mobilization of the Serb and Kosovar leaders to that end are essential to ensuring that the important results of recent years are not jeopardized by the recent episodes of tensions. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is also the prospect of rapprochement with the European Union, through the implementation of the Reform Agenda, that is today the main factor for cohesion among communities. It is for all these reasons that France favours the European perspective for the Balkans, as we recalled at the Paris summit on 4 July. That perspective is, in our view, the main stabilizing force in the region.
In Cyprus, despite recent bottlenecks, significant progress has been made in recent months in the conduct of negotiations. The two sides have never gotten this far. Much remains to be done, however, in order to arrive at a lasting solution, the outlines of which must be in line with Security Council resolutions, the principles of the Charter and the community acquis. The urgent need now is to relaunch the negotiations by maintaining the momentum generated in recent months and by continuing to make progress on sensitive and important issues, including security questions.
In conclusion, Europe now has all the tools necessary to ensure peace and security on its continent, but it is only through the common mobilization of the various actors that we will be able to perpetuate the European dream born in 1945, in the aftermath of the war, of a continent at peace at the heart of the contemporary multilateral system, capable of promoting peace throughout the world.