Ukraine: Joint French/German declaration [fr]
Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 29 May 2018
I thank the Polish presidency of the Security Council through you, Mr. Minister, for convening today’s important public meeting of the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine. Let me also welcome the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Ukraine.
I would like to thank the Assistant Secretary- General for Political Affairs, Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo; the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Ursula Mueller; and the Chief Monitor of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, for their very insightful briefings.
Given that French and German authorities are committed to resolving the crisis, I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of France and Germany. This joint statement, which is quite extraordinary, demonstrates the strong commitment of both countries within the framework of the Normandy format.
As we mark the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War this year, eastern Ukraine has been ravaged for more than four years by a conflict of an intensity rarely seen in Europe. More than 70 years after the Second World War, in a conflict in which both Ukraine and Russia paid an extraordinarily high price, more than 10,000 civilians and military personnel have lost their lives, millions of people have been displaced and millions more have been affected by clashes in the Donbas region.
For four years Germany and France have spared no effort to ease the suffering of those concerned and to put an end to the conflict. Following the Minsk protocol, the Minsk agreements were drafted in 2015 under the Normandy format and specify steps to end the crisis. Three years after the adoption of resolution 2202 (2015), which endorses the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, now more than ever before, we call upon all parties to honour their commitments. We also recall our full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
Against that backdrop, we would like to underscore three points.
The first point pertains to the security situation, which is a precondition for improving the plight of the civilian population. By no means a frozen conflict, although the parties have promised to silence their weapons on several occasions, including as recently as 30 March, eastern Ukraine is the site of daily clashes. Hundreds of ceasefire violations are observed every day by the OSCE. We pay tribute to that organization for its excellent work and for the risks its team faces. We implore the parties, in particular Russia, to do their utmost to facilitate the freedom of movement of observers and to ensure their safety and that of their equipment, including drones.
France and Germany condemn all ceasefire violations in the strongest terms. We once again call for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry, which is again being employed for attacks against civilian infrastructure. It is unacceptable that schools continue to be the targets of shelling. Both parties must also make headway on the disengagement of forces along the contact line in areas already identified as present or future disengagement areas. Those first steps will create a climate of trust and prevent the occurrence of another tragic event similar to the one that occurred on 17 July 2014 when the 298 passengers and flight crew of Malaysia Flight Airlines MH-17 tragically lost their lives after the plane was shot down by a missile. We commend the professionalism of the Joint Investigation Team, whose work is fully independent. In order to shed light on the tragedy and bring those responsible to justice, it is crucial that investigators have the full cooperation of all Member States.
Our second point refers to the urgent humanitarian situation. In April alone, we recorded 23 fatalities, including five civilians, and 115 injuries. May’s death toll already exceeds April’s. During the harsh winter months, hundreds of thousands of people went without water, electricity and heat for more than a day. They also faced worsening food insecurity and deteriorating health, in particular women and children. In order to ease the suffering of the civilian population, Germany and France request that humanitarian workers be granted access to the Donbas region and that their safety be guaranteed. We implore all parties to protect key civilian infrastructure, such as the Donetsk filtration station, and to open additional checkpoints along the contact line. We encourage another exchange of prisoners, which would convey trust, which all of us want.
Lastly, a long-term solution to the crisis also depends on the political and economic measures that will be taken. Considerable progress has been made by Ukrainian authorities over the past three years in the implementation of the political commitments made under the Minsk agreements. Legislative arrangements must still be finalized to enable the holding of local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk and the development of a plan to ensure they are held in the best possible conditions. It is expected that specific measures will be taken to improve the lives of people in the Donbas region — for example, by guaranteeing the right to a pension or by dispatching a team of experts on environmental issues.
France and Germany will continue to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, who have been battered in recent years by the conflict in Donbas and the illegal annexation of Crimea. Our efforts within the framework of the Normandy format are an expression of our desire to succeed in alleviating the suffering of the Ukrainian people and to lay the foundation for lasting peace throughout the European continent.