28 April 2016 - Ukraine: Our goal continues to be the restoration of Ukraine’s control over all of its internationally recognized territory [fr]
Ukraine - Intervention by M. François Delattre, Permanent representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 28 April 2016
I would like to thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Special Representative in Ukraine of the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for their briefings.
It is important that they were all able to speak today in order to give the Security
Council a complete picture of the developments in the situation on the ground on all fronts — political, security, humanitarian and human rights.
For France, a settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine remains more vital than ever. Together with Germany, we have continued to work uninterruptedly on mediation within the Normandy format with the aim of achieving a full settlement to the crisis between Ukraine and Russia in accordance with the framework outlined in the Minsk agreements. Our goal continues to be to ensure the restoration of Ukraine’s control over all of its internationally recognized territory. That also requires the re-establishment of its authority over Crimea. On that point, our position is consistent with international law and will not change.
Today, we are very concerned about the deteriorating situation on the ground. The increased pace of violations of the ceasefire, which have been observed over several weeks, is accompanied by a human toll that continues to increase, both among the armed fighters and the civilian population. Since the beginning of April, regrettably, there have been more than 20 deaths and 130 wounded in the Donbas area. That ongoing low-intensity conflict, marked by regular clashes in several localities, is unacceptable. It threatens to undermine the main progress that we had achieved since August, which was the end of large-scale fighting and a decrease in the number of victims. It undermines the credibility of efforts towards ensuring a negotiated settlement. We must therefore do everything to put an end to it. Otherwise, there is a serious risk that we could be heading towards a worsening of the conflict, which would be detrimental to all parties, not just to Ukraine.
As to the substance, the most recent events on the ground serve to further substantiate our conclusion that the Minsk agreements are the sole valid terms of reference for a peaceful, long-term settlement. There is no other solution. We regret, therefore, the fragmentary implementation of those agreements, although they constitute an international commitment in which the provisions must be implemented by all parties. That includes effectively respecting the ceasefire, which is the only possible basis for making progress, as well as implementing other measures provided for under the Minsk agreements, in particular for constitutional reform when it comes to decentralization and a special electoral law for Donbas. Setting out a political horizon is the best way to ensure that the security situation remains stable. Consolidating the security situation and implementing the political dimension of the Minsk agreements are two topics that are at the basis of any lasting settlement, and cannot therefore be decoupled.
Against that disturbing backdrop, we remain more than ever committed, alongside our German partners, to relentlessly pursue our efforts within the Normandy format for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements and to do so without delay.
The solutions for progress are well known to us all:
- In terms of security, it consists of the effective implementation of the mechanisms discussed at the most recent ministerial meeting in the Normandy format, held in Paris on 3 March, for a consolidation of the ceasefire. Besides the withdrawal of heavy weapons, those include strengthening the role of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination and setting up a mechanism for preventing and resolving incidents. Moreover, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine should also be able to carry out all of its mandate in an unimpeded and free manner. Threats to its operations and the integrity of its staff are unacceptable.
- On the political front, the revival of a positive dynamic depends first and foremost on the early adoption of a law on local elections in Donbas, which should be organized within the context of Ukrainian law and according to OSCE standards. Holding those elections can be envisaged only if there is a stable security environment. In our view, that could be maintained by a complementary international presence on the ground under the auspices of the OSCE.
- We, together with the German presidency of the OSCE, are currently considering that.In humanitarian and human rights terms, it is vital that humanitarian organizations immediately enjoy full access, including safe and unimpeded to all territories under separatist control. Unfortunately, that is still not the case. We also recall the commitment made in Paris on 3 March by the parties for the release by 30 April of all prisoners and illegally detained individuals, which in our view includes the case of Nadiya Savchenko. We are concerned about the frequent allegations of violations of human rights in Crimea, especially against the Tatars and pro-Ukrainian militants. In that regard, the decision of the Russian courts to include the Mejlis, the representative assembly of the Crimean Tatars, on the list of extremist organizations is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression, association and assembly. It is also important that the neutral observation and objective monitoring work being carried out by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other human rights organizations can continue unimpeded throughout Ukrainian territory, including in Crimea.
We are now at a decisive moment. We hope that the parties will assume their full responsibilities to allow the full implementation of the provisions of the Minsk agreements. The inauguration of a new Ukrainian Government, which has publicly demonstrated its intention to make progress on this point, is an important step. Following that, we, together with our German partners, have multiplied our high-level contacts with all parties to revive a dynamic of trust. Those contacts continue as we speak. We call upon all members of the Council to support those efforts in order to collectively speak with one voice. We hope that, at last, sufficient progress will be made in the coming days in order to permit the convening of a new Normandy format ministerial meeting as soon as possible.