The resolution of the crisis in eastern Ukraine, a priority for France - 11 December 2015 [fr]
Security Council - Situation in Ukraine - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Representative of France to the United Nations - 11 december 2015
I thank the Deputy Secretary-General and all the other speakers for their briefings. It was important that they had this opportunity to address us all today in order to provide the Council with a clear picture of the evolution of the situation on the ground, covering both the political and security aspects as well as the humanitarian and human rights aspects.
We believe that the Council is more than ever playing the role it should by raising and addressing all of those issues together, because they are all very closely linked to the maintenance of peace and international security, and therefore all fall under the purview and responsibility of the Council.
I wish to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for his presence here today. I would like to assure him of France’s commitment to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The resolution of the crisis in eastern Ukraine constitutes a priority for France. The President of the Republic reiterated that point during his recent trip to Moscow by recalling how our determination to find a solution for a political settlement of the crisis remains unchanged.Within the Normandy format, France and Germany are fully committed to the complete and swift implementation of the Minsk agreements, particularly the package of measures adopted on 12 February.
The political mobilization of the high-level Contact Group on Ukraine in recent months has led to significant progress on several aspects.First is the fact that there are no longer any large-scale hostilities, as there were at the beginning of the year, and a process of political settlement of the crisis is slowly taking shape. In terms of security, the ceasefire established in September is generally being respected, although it has yet to be consolidated.
An agreement on the withdrawal of weapons under the 100 millimetre to 120 millimetre calibre has been implemented and is being monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The number of civilian casualties has been significantly reduced.
On the political front, it is now necessary to determine the terms of a draft bill for elections in the Donbas region aimed at granting special status to the territory, according to the sequence approved at the recent Normandy format summit held in Paris on 2 October.
Turning to economic and humanitarian issues, the parties managed to reach agreements on concrete projects to rebuild infrastructure and on a number of prisoner exchanges. Progress has also been achieved in mine clearance.Furthermore, the European Union has done its utmost to mobilize support for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, in particular by enabling the conclusion of a gas agreement between Russia and Ukraine and by initiating trilateral consultations on the impact of the crisis on the implementation of the detailed and comprehensive free-trade agreement on the Russian economy. To a certain extent, things are therefore on the right track.
Nevertheless, the situation on the ground remains extremely volatile, and we are fully aware of the difficulties that remain.The trend of increasing ceasefire violations recorded since the beginning of the month of November endangers the progress achieved so far. Those violations must cease. It is important that an agreement on the withdrawal of heavy weapons be approved and implemented immediately. The Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in Ukraine must also be permitted to fully exercise its mandate. In that regard, we reiterate our call for the monitors to have the benefit of unhindered access to areas controlled by the separatists, including along the entire international border with Russia, in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
It is equally important that the Special Monitoring Mission be able to implement without delay the permanent outposts in accordance with its plans. The withdrawal of foreign terrorist fighters and equipment must also be carried out without delay.The lack of agreement among the parties within the political working group hinders progress towards a lasting settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
We hope that the Ukrainian authorities and the separatists will constructively participate in the working group discussions aimed at reaching agreement on a draft of a special electoral bill for certain zones and regions of Donetsk and Luhansk that respects international law and OSCE standards.
The economic and humanitarian situation also remains particularly troubling in Donbas. It continues to deteriorate as winter sets in, which is particularly worrying. It is vital that unhindered access be guaranteed to humanitarian organizations throughout the territory controlled by the separatists. Unfortunately, that is not the case today, and it could have devastating consequences on the population, as Mr. Ging pointed out in his briefing today with regard to the activities of Doctors Without Borders. Those hindrances cannot in any case justify the measures of unwarranted administrative control.It is also important to expand our mine-clearing operations to cover other priority areas identified by the OSCE.
We urge the international community, especially the United Nations, to support those actions, both financially and technically. We also support and call for the further release of all prisoners held by the parties, which must take place as quickly as possible.
We are also deeply concerned about the ongoing serious human rights violations observed in eastern Ukraine as well as the situation in Crimea, and I would like to recall that France does not recognize its illegal annexation. In those territories, the population sees their fundamental human rights and freedoms regularly violated by the de facto authorities. The repression of all dissenting voices as well as the discrimination against and constant harassment of Tatars in the Crimean region must cease.
In that regard, it is essential that various human rights monitoring missions have access to the entire Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.
Finally, our ultimate goal is the return of Ukraine’s control over all its territory within the internationally recognized borders, in accordance with international law. In that context, the priorities are to consolidate the security situation on the ground and to renew efforts to implement the political aspects of the Minsk agreements. Those two issues are indeed at the foundation of any long-term and lasting settlement and are inseparable.At the Paris summit of 2 October, the four Heads of State and Government of the Normandy format process agreed to postpone by several months the deadline initially set for 31 December.
The Minsk agreements constitute the benchmark for a peaceful political solution to the conflict. We thereby have an appropriate framework for the solution adopted by the Council in resolution 2202 (2015).
I wish to reiterate that the solution to the crisis requires the full and complete implementation, as quickly as possible, of the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Each party, but also every member of the Council, must meet its responsibilities in supporting the process. We will continue, together with our German partners, to mobilize in that direction, in the context of the Normandy format. A new follow-up meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers for that purpose will be held shortly.