"The actions of the OSCE and of the U.N. are convergent" [fr]
Briefing by the OSCE at the Security Council- Statement by M. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - February 29 2016
I should like to welcome the presence in the Council today of His Excellency Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, and to thank him for his particularly enlightening statement. On behalf of my country, I should like also warmly to congratulate Germany on its assumption of the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year. Of course, we intend to closely cooperate, with full confidence, with our German friends in this body in the months to come. They know that they can count on our full support in the implementation of their programme of work, which is rightly focused on the issues he mentioned, including the relaunching of dialogue, the rebuilding of trust and the restoration of security.
I wish to touch on two points: the central role of the OSCE in our efforts to put an end to the Ukrainian crisis, and the priority challenges on which the OSCE should, in a more general manner, be concentrating its efforts.
The crisis unfolding today in eastern Ukraine is one of the most serious and dangerous violations of the founding principles of the OSCE, as adopted in Helsinki more than 40 years ago. It is therefore fitting that this issue has dominated the agenda of the organization for more than two years now.
The OSCE has risen to the challenge and shouldered its responsibilities by deploying swiftly a Special Monitoring Mission and playing a central role in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The OSCE must continue to play this core role in the context of the international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis. Our goal here remains a return of control for Ukraine across its internationally recognized borders, which includes reinstating its authority over Crimea. Our position on this issue, which is in keeping with international law, will not change.
We welcome the fact that the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was extended several days ago for an additional year upon the initiative of the German chairmanship. Germany’s chairmanship means that we can strengthen the links between the various crisis-management tools available, including the Normandy format, which is the priority negotiation format for parties, and the OSCE, which is providing follow-up on the ground and mediation on a daily basis.
For France, resolving the Ukrainian crisis remains a priority. We are determined to continue our efforts in the Normandy format to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, which represents the only possible framework to achieve a peaceful settlement. This is one of the messages that Minister Steinmeier conveyed, alongside his French counterpart, during their joint visit to Kyiv last week.
In terms of content, our position is clear: we are deeply worried about the ongoing violations of the ceasefire, whose number has increased in recent weeks, and we deplore the piecemeal application of the Minsk agreements on the ground.The Minsk agreements are an international commitment whose provisions must be implemented by all parties. This includes the effective implementation of the ceasefire, which is the only possible basis for moving forward, as well as the implementation of the other measures planned for by the Minsk framework, namely, the adoption of a constitutional reform on decentralization and a special electoral law for Donbas, given the fact that the definition of a political horizon is the only way to ensure that the security situation remains stable.All of these questions will be on the agenda of the next ministerial meeting in the Normandy format, to be held on Thursday in Paris. This will be a crucial time with respect to our mediation and to the conflict, and all parties must shoulder their responsibilities. We call upon other members of the Council to urgently convey this message.
In the meantime, more generally, it is vital that the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE be in a position to fully and without hindrance discharge its mandate. We once again call for respect of the freedom of movement of the monitors and firmly condemn any violation of that principle, be it through intimidation, threats or prohibition of access to certain areas. We should also think about how to give the organization the ability to better monitor the border between Russia and Ukraine and to set up a new advance presence in areas currently under separatist control. The commitment of the OSCE to ensuring security for local elections in Donbas will also be necessary, on the basis of arrangements yet to be determined.
Beyond Ukraine, the OSCE remains a key instrument for promoting peace and security in Europe in a context characterized by a broad spectrum of threats. This situation should encourage its 57 members to give up political posturing and embrace once again the Helsinki spirit of which Minister Steinmeier just spoke, which enabled a shared vision of security in Europe and which was reiterated in the 2010 Astana commemorative declaration of Heads of State and Government, entitled “Towards a security community”, based on the three well-known dimensions on which the organization focuses.
In this context, we believe that the work of the OSCE must today emphasize the following issues in particular:
First, let me touch on the settlement of regional conflicts. Beyond the Ukrainian crisis, we cannot accept the continued existence of frozen conflicts throughout Europe, be it in Nagorno Karabakh, Transdniestria or Georgia, which was mentioned earlier. We share the belief of the German chairmanship that the OSCE’s role is key in all of these situations, within established mediation formats, so as to promote dialogue and re-establish confidence.
I turn now to the issue of bolstering the OSCE’s capacities in the cycle of conflict. Conflict prevention is an issue on which we deem it not only possible but also urgent to make headway together. Here we welcome the decision of the German chairmanship to attach priority importance to arms control and the adoption of confidence-building measures during this year, in which important timelines are coming up with respect to the Vienna Document and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
With respect to upholding the vital importance of the democracy and human rights pillar in the work of the OSCE, although a multidimensional approach has always been at the heart of the OSCE’s work, we are nevertheless concerned at the increasing tendency on the part of certain members to politicize or even reject consideration of issues related to the human dimension. The approach taken by the German chairmanship of relaunching work in this area while focusing on issues such as combating discrimination, racism, xenophobia and intolerance is welcome, on the understanding that such work cannot overshadow the efforts that must be made in the area of democracy and human rights.
With regard to developing the central role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to certain emerging challenges — I am thinking in particular about migration, combatting radicalization and even climate change — it is important with all of those issues, which are so important for European security, that the OSCE work towards specific responses beyond public posturing. We fully support the desire of the German chairmanship to encourage the Organization to focus on those areas of expertise, such as in the fight against human trafficking in the context of migration, for example. Particular attention should be paid to the impact of climate change on security. We think that would be quite timely, following the Paris agreement.
I conclude my statement by recalling the common ground that exists between the activities of the OSCE and the United Nations. Whether it be in the field or in their respective missions in the Balkans, the Caucasus or Central Asia, they must always act in an integrated manner. There is also common ground in terms of principles with the defence of a common approach that encompasses security, development and human rights.
France is convinced that the founding principles of the OSCE remain more relevant than ever to guarantee security in Europe. Unlike those who believe today that there is a need to abandon or change such principles, we think that it important to collectively mobilize to ensure those principles are upheld.
Once again, on behalf of my country I would like to wish Germany every success as it assumes the chairmanship and pledge France’s resolve to support its programme of work at the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.