The OSCE plays a central role in efforts to put an end to the Ukrainian crisis [fr]
Statement by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 8 March 2018
I welcome Mr. Angelino Alfano, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, and congratulate his country on assuming the chairpersonship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year. Italy can count on our full support in addressing the priorities of its chairpersonship, which include conflicts in Europe, particularly Ukraine, challenges in the Mediterranean, transnational threats and, above all, respect for human rights — the keystone of peace and international security.
I would like to focus on two points: the central role of the OSCE in our efforts to put an end to the Ukrainian crisis and the other priority challenges on which we, member States of the Security Council and the United Nations, must support the OSCE.
The Ukrainian crisis is one of the gravest and most dangerous violations not only of the founding principles of the OSCE, established in Helsinki more than 40 years ago, but also of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The OSCE has been able to respond appropriately to avoid the escalation of the conflict. It has acted responsibly by rapidly deploying a Special Monitoring Mission and by assuming thereafter a central role in supporting the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which remain the only possible path to a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
France is determined, in collaboration with Germany, to pursue its mediation efforts using the Normandy format. Each result obtained in this format and implemented on the ground counts. We saw evidence of that in December with the exchange of prisoners between the Ukrainian State and the separatists. Only progress in this format will support the implementation of the Minsk agreements by the parties. We count on the Council to fully support their efforts to that end as soon as possible.
We remain more convinced than ever that the OSCE, through its Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, has a vital role to play in ensuring the implementation of political decisions on the ground. In that connection, the Special Monitoring Mission must be able to fully exercise its mandate without hindrance. We once again call for its staff to be granted freedom of movement and condemn in the strongest terms any violation of that principle, whether in the form of intimidation, threats or denial of access to certain areas. The OSCE’s participation in the holding of future local elections in Donbas will also be necessary, although the modalities have yet to be determined.
Finally, our general goal remains the restoration of Ukraine’s control over all its territory within the internationally recognized borders. I recall, in that regard, that France strongly condemns and does not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
My second point relates generally to the role of the OSCE in the promotion of peace and security in Europe. Given the diversity of the threats we face, we encourage the OSCE’s 57 members to abandon their political postures and to embrace instead the spirit of Helsinki, which made it possible, over 40 years ago, to reach a common vision of security in Europe. In that context, we believe that the work of the OSCE now needs to focus on the following issues.
The first is the resolution of regional conflicts. Moving past the Ukrainian case, we cannot be satisfied with the persistence of stagnant conflicts on the European continent, be it in Nagorno Karabakh, Transnistria or the separatist territories of Georgia. We are convinced that the role of the OSCE is central in all such cases, both in connection with and within the framework of the established mediation formats, in order to promote dialogue and restore confidence which, as Minister Alfano and Deputy Minister Söder have stressed, are the key to resolving the conflicts.
Secondly, we must preserve the instruments of trust and military transparency on the European continent. The arms control treaties and confidence-building measures developed in the OSCE’s political-military dimension are unique and constitute pillars of the European security architecture. It is essential to preserve their implementation and relevance, including by adapting them to modern realities. We are in favour of continuing discussions within the framework of the OSCE Structured Dialogue.
Thirdly, the preservation of the human dimension must remain central to the work of the OSCE, in line with the wishes of the Italian chairpersonship. This human dimension is central to the functioning and the identity of the OSCE. It is also key to finding long-term solutions to crises. To reject or marginalize that dimension can only undermine the prospects for peace and security in Europe. Like the Italian chairpersonship, we seek to promote the universality and indivisibility of all fundamental rights.
Finally, the OSCE must develop its operational role in response to certain emerging regional challenges. That applies, in particular, to combating human trafficking, preventing radicalization and addressing the impact of climate change on security. Doing so is important for each of these key challenges to security in Europe. The OSCE must develop concrete responses that are not merely public statements of position.
I will conclude by recalling the strong convergences that exist between the actions of the OSCE and those of the United Nations. Those two organizations share a common approach that combines security, development and human rights. It is our duty, in the Council, to continue to support the efforts of the OSCE in all crises in which it is called upon to act.