Statement at the OSCE Permanent Council in response to the statements by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, Ambassador Martin Sajdik, and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan
(Vienna, 8 January 2018)
The delegation of the Republic of Belarus warmly welcomes the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Ambassador Martin Sajdik, and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, and thanks them for their as always informative reports on the work of the TCG and SMM.
We welcome the progress in humanitarian matters, in particular the exchange of detained persons on 27 December 2017 in accordance with the agreements reached in the TCG, and also the discussion of further steps in that area. The focus on solving the pressing socio-economic problems of the civilian population of Donbas on both sides of the line of contact, including environmental security issues, is also encouraging.
The Christmas and New Year ceasefire, achieved on 20 December last year within the TCG, contributed to a reduction in the volume of shelling. At the same time, despite the declared commitment to a comprehensive, sustainable and indefinite ceasefire regime, ceasefire violations continue, and recently they have increased, particularly over the past week. Civilians, including children, continue be killed or injured as a result of this. As is mentioned in Ambassador Apakan’s report, “the alternating cycles of armed violence and calm demonstrate the lack of will from the sides to maintain the ceasefire and eradicate the root causes of ongoing violations.” We call on the parties to the conflict to do their utmost to ensure that the ceasefire regime becomes truly sustainable and irreversible. The achievement of that aim would also be greatly facilitated by the disengagement of the parties’ forces and hardware in accordance with the TCG framework decision of 20 September 2016. Progress in this matter is unfortunately lacking.
We look forward to the resumed operation of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination, which made a significant contribution to the agreement of “local” ceasefires and to ensuring guarantees of security to enable repairs to be carried out on critical infrastructure facilities.
As can be seen from the SMM Chief Monitor’s report, mines and other explosive devices continue to pose a clear risk both to members of the SMM and to the civilian population, especially in the disengagement areas. We call on the parties to the conflict to make determined efforts with regard to demining, to clearing the area of explosive remnants of war and to preventing new mines from being laid, as stipulated by the TCG decision on mine action of 3 March 2016. We also note the priority of ensuring the safety of the SMM monitors and members.
The strict observance of the ceasefire regime, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact and disengagement of the parties’ forces and hardware are fundamental elements of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements. There is no alternative to this. We call on the parties to demonstrate the necessary political will and to abide strictly by the agreements reached. Further progress in resolving the conflict will depend largely on the creation and maintenance of a stable and safe atmosphere in the region. It is extremely difficult to solve issues – whether economic or humanitarian – while shells are raining down.
Belarus resolutely supports the work of the SMM and the efforts undertaken within the TCG, which remains, as noted by Ambassador Sajdik, the only permanent negotiating format for resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We remain willing to provide all the necessary assistance to the peace process in Ukraine, including the arrangement of meetings of the TCG and its working groups in Minsk, and also the seconding of qualified personnel to the SMM.
In conclusion, we would like to wish the distinguished Ambassadors Sajdik and Apakan and the SMM team success in their difficult and responsible mission and assure them of Belarus’s steadfast support.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.