I, too, thank Mr. Feltman for his briefing.
The Ukrainian crisis has recently seen a turning point with the election of Mr. Poroshenko as President of the Republic. On Sunday 25 May, the Ukrainian people at last made its voice heard through the free and transparent elections despite the violence by separatist armed groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of the country. In the first round, there was a rapid and clear result. We welcome Mr. Poroshenko’s victory. We affirm that we are fully ready to work with him. From the first round, with its high turnout, the election demonstrated to us the aspiration of most Ukrainians for unity.
I would like to briefly come back to the elections. First, they were free, as there were no fewer than 21 registered candidates. That number speaks to the vast array of policies on which all Ukrainians were urged to vote on Sunday in order to build their future. There was not only one candidate or a predetermined outcome. Next, they were tansparent, as 2,784 international observers were accredited to ensure their smooth conduct. Yesterday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that the election respected democratic norms. The President- elect is therefore fully legitimate. We will closley review the results of the Central Electoral Commission and the assessment to be made by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the conduct of the elections. In passing, I note that the results also affirm, as if it were necessary, the extent to which the propaganda condemning the influence of the fascists in Ukraine was baseless. The two parties of the extreme right received less than 3 per cent of votes.
The elections are therefore good news, given that their conduct was threatened on many occasions. However, we recall that they took place in a particularly difficult security context. The situation in the Donbass region remains of great concern. Human rights violations and restrictions on the freedom of the press are increasing. Two journalists were killed last Saturday. Four OSCE monitors were abducted in Donetsk and are still being detained. They must be released immediately. Donetsk airport was occupied by armed separatist groups, before being retaken by Ukrainian forces. The armed separatist groups must immediately cease their activities. We call on all those who have influence over them to use that influence to allow for a return to calm. Finally, let us no forget that Crimea remains occupied.
In this tense situation, Sunday’s elections represent nonetheless an opportunity. Mr. Poroshenko, who will take the reins of Ukraine in early June, will have three priorities: to restore calm, establish an inclusive Government and undertake reforms. Those three priorities should be based on national dialogue, which must be extended and deepened.
Today, for Ukraine, there is no other way forward than the path of unity and reconciliation. In that context, we hope that Mr. Poroshenko will work to consolidate the unity of his country by continuing the process of Ukrainian national dialogue launched with the support of the OSCE on 14 May, and by supporting the implementation of the memorandum on peace and harmony, adopted by the Rada on 20 May. Those initiatives, which provide for inclusive constitutional reform for decentralization and guarantee the status of the Russian language, are steps in the right direction.
The process must first and foremost be led by Ukraine itself, with the support of the OSCE. The European Union stands ready to support those efforts, as recalled by the Heads of State in their declaration at the Council of Europe yesterday. However, it is up to the international community as a whole to stand by Ukraine in a useful way in writing the next pages of its history.
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