Ukraine: it is necessary to create a momentum of trust [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 16 July 2019
I thank Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo and Mr. Lamberto Zannier for their briefings on the difficult situation Ukraine is facing due to a conflict that has, lest we forget, claimed more than 13,000 lives.
That situation is not the result of the adoption, on 25 April, of the law on the use of Ukrainian as a national language. The law is in no way a threat to international peace and security. It is up to the Ukrainians to make their own choices regarding linguistic policies, inter alia, while respecting their European and international commitments. The early parliamentary elections to be held next Sunday will contribute to that.
Nevertheless, the multiple violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity since 2014 are a source of great concern and a threat to international peace and security. I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm France’s commitment to the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. France does not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. I also reiterate France’s condemnation of Russia’s decision to facilitate the granting of Russian citizenship to Ukrainian citizens living in certain areas of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. By doing so, Russia is deliberately undermining the spirit of the Minsk agreements.
As we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the 298 victims. They deserve the truth, to have the perpetrators identified and justice to be delivered in accordance with resolution 2166 (2014).
Furthermore, France once again calls for the release of the 24 Ukrainian seamen captured during the naval incident in the Kerch Strait in November, as was also demanded by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in May.
I would now like to underscore two points.
First, there have been some positive developments in recent weeks and days.
Under the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, the work of the Trilateral Contact Group resumed in a constructive manner as of 5 June.
Again, at the initiative of the new Ukrainian authorities, the disengagement of forces in the pilot zone in Stanytsia Luhanska was implemented on 30 June. That is a significant step forward in terms of security and is paving the way for improvements in the humanitarian situation.
I would also like to commend the resumption of bilateral contacts at the highest level between Ukraine and Russia, crystallized by an initial telephone exchange between the President of Ukraine and the President of the Russian Federation on 11 July.
My second point is that it is now necessary to create momentum, on the basis of those first positive developments, that generates the trust that is indispensable for the settlement of the conflict.
We bear a responsibility to the 3.5 million people who suffer daily as a result of the conflict. That is why France, alongside Germany, remains firmly committed to the Normandy format. France hosted a meeting of diplomatic advisers under that format on 12 July in Paris, marking the resumption of the proceedings and resulting in encouraging constructive exchanges. A set of priority measures to be taken by the parties in the coming weeks was agreed upon. It is now their responsibility to ensure that they be translated into concrete actions.
It is also particularly necessary to make rapid progress in terms of prisoner exchanges, the last of which took place in December 2017, a ceasefire that is genuinely respected, improving the humanitarian situation, the withdrawal of heavy weaponry and mine clearance. Once the necessary legal framework has been established, democratic local elections will make it possible to implement the decentralization provisions provided for by the Minsk agreements.
To conclude, allow me to call for all of us here to be vigilant. Although encouraging, recent developments remain fragile. Current circumstances offer an opportunity to generate new, more positive and constructive momentum to revive the peace process. It is incumbent upon us all to seize the opportunity by taking the demanding path of dialogue and cooperation. The Minsk agreements will soon be 5 years old — it is high time that they be finally implemented.