France firmly condemns the resumption of fighting [fr]
Ukraine - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 2 February 2017
France firmly condemns the resumption of fighting in eastern Ukraine in the past few days, specifically in Avdiivka. We are dealing with the worst upsurge in violence and the highest rate of violations of the ceasefire that we have seen in months. They have been accompanied by a spike in the number of victims, including among civilians, as well as a serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation, which we are following closely. We are forced to conclude that neither the security or the humanitarian situation has improved since the consultations we had on the subject two days ago, despite the fact that the Council called unanimously for the immediate restoration of the ceasefire (SC/12700). In that regard, France calls on all the parties to exercise restraint, and supports the appeal of the Trilateral Contact Group for the immediate restoration of the ceasefire in accordance with terms of the Minsk agreements, in particular with respect to the prohibition against the use and withdrawal of heavy weapons. The disengagement of forces on both sides of the line of contact must also be implemented without delay. We expect each of the parties to refrain from any provocation that maight further aggravate the situation. We also call on Russia to use its influence with the separatists.
The work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission in support of the ceasefire and de-escalation is essential. We call on all the parties on the ground to ensure the access and security of OSCE observers in Avdiivka, as well as in all areas of the conflict, as established in the mandate of the Mission.
The humanitarian situation is of particular concern to us, as the civilian population is facing extreme weather conditions and a disruption to the supply of water and electricity in several areas, including Avdiivka. We urge the parties to act as quickly as possible to improve the living conditions of the civilian population on the ground. Immediate compliance with windows of calm is essential to enable the repair of critical infrastructure in areas affected by fighting and for the relief of populations. We believe that to be crucial. The current crisis also calls to mind the crucial importance of the ongoing presence of humanitarian agencies throughout Ukrainian territory, including in areas beyond the control of the Government.
Faced with the new resurgence in violence, France recalls that the solution to the crisis in Ukraine cannot be a military one; rather, it must be political. That is why the implementation of the Minsk agreements remains more than ever the only way forward for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. France and Germany remain fully engaged in their diplomatic efforts within the framework of the Normandy format. Although we are aware of the scale of the work that remains to be done and the challenges to be overcome, we are convinced that working in that format, the only one to bring Ukraine and Russia together around the same table at the political level, is necessary and must be continued. In particular, work in the Normandy format has made it possible in recent months to lessen the intensity of the fighting and reduce the number of human casualties on the ground, as well as to implement confidence-building measures in the security and humanitarian spheres, with respect to the re-establishment of the ceasefire, the implementation of areas of disengagement or even the carrying out of exchanges of prisoners.
Despite continued fighting, the number of civilian casualties remains six times lower since the signing of the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to estimates by United Nations agencies. Our efforts are currently focused on developing a common road map that would enable concomitant progress with respect to the security and political aspects of the Minsk agreements. We can make progress only by moving forward on those two tracks. It is the shared belief of France and Germany that this is now the only way forward and that the European sanctions implemented at the beginning of the crisis are linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
For France, a resolution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine is more than ever a major priority. Alongside Germany, we will continue tirelessly in our efforts to mediate within the framework of the Normandy format, for there is currently no viable alternative and because every result on the ground counts. Our goal remains the restoration of Ukrainian control over all of its internationally recognized borders, which, we recall, can take place only via the re-establishment of its authority over Crimea.
In this challenging environment, everyone must now shoulder their responsibilities and fulfil their commitments. In our view, that is the main message the Council should send, and it is the spirit with which we are prepared to consider any draft presidential statement that may be adopted by the Council.