In Ukraine, the Minsk Agreements’ Package of measures created a new dynamic - 6 March 2015 [fr]
Situation in Ukraine - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 6 March 2015 - Security Council
I would like to thank Mr. Feltman, Mr. Šimonović and Mr. Ging for their briefings.
Their presentations have helped to provide valuable insight into the overall situation in Ukraine.
The Security Council, through its resolution 2202 (2015), has brought all its weight to bear on the efforts to end the crisis that is the subject of the Minsk agreements, which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is in charge of implementing. After having heard the representative of the OSCE last week (see S/PV.7391), it seems useful for the Council to have information for evaluating the overall situation. All aspects are relevant for efforts to support the crisis resolution process initiated in Minsk, which is the priority for all of us. In that regard, it is important to remember that the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements devotes an entire paragraph to humanitarian issues: The signatories have committed to ensuring “safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism” (resolution 2202 (2015), annex I, para. 7).
The human rights situation in Ukraine has continued to deteriorate in recent months. Here in the Council in mid-November (see S/PV.7311), we denounced the arrival from abroad of reinforcements in terms of weapons and fighters in support of the separatists, which fuelled a new wave of violence that peaked in early February 2015. Mr. Šimonović’s report is illuminating on that issue. Nearly 6,000 people have died since the beginning of the crisis in April 2014, including the 298 passengers on the Malaysian Airlines flight.
Civilians have been the main victims of this escalation. I note in particular, and with horror, the ongoing bombing of the evacuation corridors used by people fleeing the combat zones, which has endangered the evacuation operations organized by the Ukrainian Government. Thousands of civilians, such as those in the city of Debaltseve, have found themselves trapped in combat zones.
This conflagration has also given rise to an increase in the number of human rights violations, including acts of torture, summary executions and abductions. International standards have been violated by all parties to the conflict. The east of the country, which is controlled mainly by the separatists, has been turned into a zone of lawlessness. Accordingly, the report emphasizes the importance seeing the perpetrators of those crimes, including most serious crimes, found and brought to justice.
In that context, the humanitarian situation requires the attention of all. The response must be coordinated. The precarious conditions in which people live in eastern Ukraine do not justify Russia’s open violations of the sovereignty of the country by bringing in so-called humanitarian convoys without notice, which are only partially monitored by the Ukrainian authorities.
Finally, we remain particularly concerned about the situation of the population of Crimea under the de facto yoke of Russian law. Mr. Šimonović’s report describes a situation of arbitrariness and legal uncertainty, where civilians, especially the Tatars, experience regular violations of their human rights and are criminally charged under the Russian justice system for events that took place prior to the illegal annexation of the territory.
With the signing on 12 February of the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, a new dynamic has emerged. The ceasefire that entered into force on 15 February is now generally respected, although it remains fragile. It has helped to reduce the overall level of violence. De-escalation has been observed on the ground, and the beginning of the withdrawal of heavy weapons extends this dynamic. It is the OSCE’s responsibility to verify the withdrawal, as provided for in paragraph 3 of the Minsk package of measures. Other measures relating to human rights and the humanitarian situation must now be encouraged. In that respect, two points would establish confidence.
First, with regard to all the hostages and illegally detained persons, the Minsk agreements provide for their release and exchange on the basis of the principle of “all against all”. In that regard, we call on Russia to stop holding people wrongfully detained in its territory, particularly Nadiya Savchenko. Her release would strengthen the first encouraging exchanges of prisoners that have been taking place since 12 February, including 138 Ukrainian soldiers and 52 separatist fighters on 21 February.
Secondly, progress must be made quickly in the coordination of humanitarian assistance, as provided for in paragraph 7 of the Minsk package of measures. All parties to the conflict must guarantee access for international humanitarian assistance to all areas. We welcome the announcement by the Ukrainian Government of the creation of a platform for discussions between Ukrainian officials and representatives of the humanitarian community.
In addition, we support the proposals of Ms. Heidi Tagliavini, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine, to create a working group that would work to resolve all humanitarian, economic and rehabilitation issues. That group would cover the many outstanding issues: the voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees, the reconstruction of housing, food and medical aid, the provision to civilians of food, clothing, schools, and so on. The efforts of all sides will be needed in that regard.
To give substance to the Minsk agreements, all parties must respect all of the points. Full and unconditional access and the security of the OSCE observers, as well as the transmission of information, especially to confirm the withdrawal of heavy weapons, must imperatively be guaranteed by all parties. We expect Russia to encourage the separatist elements to fully implement the commitments they made in Minsk.
In addition, all parties must courageously address all of the political points of the road map drawn up in Minsk to advance towards a comprehensive and peaceful settlement of the crisis. Progress will be possible when all parties are willing to move forward. The Council may be assured of the resolute and continued commitment of France with its partners in the Normandy format and in the framework of the Council to continue on the difficult and demanding path of peace.