France and Germany have worked to give new impetus to efforts to resolve the conflict [fr]
Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 18 February 2020
I thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Chief Monitor of the ОSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for their briefings.
Six years following the start of hostilities, the conflict in Ukraine remains the deadliest on the European continent. We cannot accept the fact that the conflict, which has led to the deaths of more than 13,000 persons, rages on, while millions of men and women continue to suffer as a result of the war. It is for that reason that, over the past few months, France, along with Germany, has worked to give new impetus to efforts to resolve the conflict. The Heads of State of the four countries of the Normandy format met in Paris on 9 December last year and reaffirmed their commitment to a set of principles. First and foremost, they reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreements as a framework for the settlement of the conflict. Then, during the summit, we also set out tangible specific measures to make headway towards the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Those are the measures that now need to be implemented, and the Trilateral Contact Group is working towards that end.
A first positive step was taken with the release and exchange of 200 prisoners on 29 December. Discussions are ongoing in order to facilitate the exchange of all conflict-related prisoners. France recalls the vital nature of access for international organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to all detained persons on either side of the contact line and of the identification of the approximately 1,500 persons who have disappeared since 2014.
Progress is necessary in a number of other areas. Violations of the ceasefire continue on a daily basis, notwithstanding the commitment reiterated on 9 December to ensure full respect for it along the contact line. In that regard, I deplore today’s fighting, which has caused at least one death and several injuries. I call on the parties, in particular the separatist armed groups, to refrain from any provocation, in order to avoid any military escalation on the ground.
The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is contributing every day to ensuring accurate monitoring of the security situation, thanks to the courage of the women and men engaged on the ground. We condemn in the strongest possible terms all actions that undermine their security or aim at obstructing their mission. The mandate of the Special Mission must be able to be fully implemented throughout the territory of Ukraine, including near the Russian-Ukrainian border. The identification of new disengagement zones and the question of identifying and opening new crossing points are very concrete issues. Progress is expected in that context as well, just as it is expected in the area of mine clearance.
Beyond those measures, the objective remains the implementation of the political clauses of the Minsk agreements. That is the most difficult part, but the current momentum should enable progress to be made in defining local self-government arrangements for certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in incorporating the Steinmeier formula into Ukrainian legislation. In that context, civilian populations are the first victims. Ukraine is facing one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the last 10 years. Some 3.4 million people continue to depend on humanitarian assistance. Every effort must be made to facilitate access for humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies, especially in the territories controlled by the separatist entities.
We call on all parties to implement their obligations and on Russia to use its influence on the separatists for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, in the interests of a civilian population now caught between heavy weapons and mines. Pending the return to a lasting peace, to which we are endeavouring to contribute by continuing negotiations and the prospect of a forthcoming summit in Normandy format, Ukraine can count on the full and complete support of France.