I, too, wish to thank Mr. Zerihoun for his briefing and Mr. Šimonović for introducing the third report of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine. I understand that the Ukrainian authorities have accepted the renewal of the mission’s mandate for the next three months. We welcome that. The mission is an invaluable source of information in terms of giving an overview of the situation in Ukraine.
The report submitted by Mr. Šimonović covers an important event in the history of the country — the election of Petro Poroshenko as the new President of Ukraine. Despite the obstacles placed before the people of the east in the exercise of their right to free expression, voting proceeded normally in the rest of Ukraine. As the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has stressed, international norms were respected. Mr. Poroshenko is therefore the new legitimate President of Ukraine and has been recognized as such. His talks in Normandy during the ceremonies to commemorate the 6 June 1944 landing, as well as his inaugural ceremony, are evidence of that. This is an important stage because the election has given birth to a process of political normalization.
Mr. Šimonović’s third report sheds light on the important steps taken by the Government of Ukraine, particularly in the context of implementing the Geneva statement of 17 April. Round tables were organized to bring diverse sectors of Ukrainian society together, and a draft law entitled “Memorandum of concord and peace”, which provides for the decentralization of power and guarantees on the status of the Russian language, has been adopted by the Rada. The report also notes that investigations are under way into the serious human rights violations committed during the events of Maidan Square, as well as those that took place in 2 May in Odesa. While there has not yet been a full clarification of those tragic events, it should nonetheless be stressed that efforts have been made to that end. The cooperation of Ukraine with the United Nations human rights monitoring mission on this issue has also been significant. Those elements show that, despite the many difficulties that have arisen, Ukraine is in the process of achieving its political transition.
Despite such positive developments, eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk and Luhansk, has experienced a general deterioration in its security, human rights and humanitarian situation under the sway of illegal separatist armed groups. The third report stresses that arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, torture and murder now affect not only journalists, public officials and human rights activists, but the population as a whole. Mr. Šimonović has just informed us that the situation has grown even worse over the past week. In that regard, I remind the Council that eight OSCE observers have been held by separatists since late May, which poses an unacceptable obstacle to that Organization’s mission.
The violence, as has already been confirmed, is fueled and sustained from outside. The presence of those foreign elements and all foreign support for them must cease. Control of transborder movements is critical. In such conditions, the Government of Ukraine is responsible for taking appropriate and proportional measures, with respect for international law, to combat the armed groups, protect the populace and ensure control of its own borders.
Those operations impact the population’s access to basic services. Some residents have been forced to flee areas of confrontation and take refuge in other regions of Ukraine or in the Russian Federation. No one can deny that humanitarian needs exist. That is why humanitarian actors on the ground are already mobilized to respond. Coordinating all these responses not only among the various agencies but also with the Ukrainian authorities is essential. Indeed, the Ukrainian Government has taken all necessary steps to provide shelter to those who have been forced from their homes. I note that all regions of Ukraine, east and west alike, have responded to the call for solidarity. The sense of unity and of sharing a common destiny clearly exists in Ukraine.
As the mission report points out, the imposition of Russian law in Crimea, which was illegitimately annexed by Russia, has created a situation of judicial instability that prevents the local population from exercising its human rights and basic freedoms. Discrimination in hiring is rampant. Leaders and human rights activists of the Tatar community are being prosecuted. It is increasingly difficult to keep two nationalities, and those who refuse to inform the Russian authorities are now subject to criminal charges. The human rights of these people have been trampled.
Faced with the serious crisis in Ukraine, the authorities in Kyiv have made a number of good-will gestures. We welcome President Poroshenko’s decision to propose a 15-point peace plan and to declare a week-long ceasefire. We note with satisfaction that his proposed truce was accepted yesterday by the armed groups in the context of the three-way meetings held among Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE following the meetings in Normandy. We encourage that dialogue to continue and we call on the armed groups in eastern Ukraine to lay down their arms, leave all illegally occupied public buildings, and engage honestly and openly in a political dialogue that will allow them to make their claims in a legal and peaceful manner.
In such conditions, everything possible must be done to promote a return to calm, which is a sine qua non for the start of a political dialogue. That, I repeat, entails control of the Russian-Ukrainian border in order to halt the infiltration of equipment and armed men.
The international community as a whole and all members of the Council must strive towards that end and support Kyiv’s efforts. We welcome the declaration of the ceasefire enjoys the support of the Russian President. That support must be reflected on the ground at a time when there is cause for concern over word that wide-scale new military exercises are under way. In that light, we are heartened by the Russian President’s call on the Russian Federation Council this morning to annul its authorization for the Russian Army to intervene on Ukrainian territory.
Today, there is no other path for Ukraine except that of unity and reconciliation. The European Union and France stand ready to offer Ukraine all their support in those efforts, as our Heads of State and Government recalled at their summit on 27 May.
More on Ukraine