As I said, during the consultations on Saturday, there is a prevailing feeling of consternation when we see what is happening in Ukraine and when we hear what our Russian colleague has just said. It is in fact the voice of the past that we have just heard. I was 15 years old in August 1968, when the Soviet forces entered Czechoslovakia. We heard the same justifications, the same documents being flaunted and the same allegations. We hoped that, with the building of Europe and the collapse of communism, we would awaken from such nightmares. We had hoped that we would have replaced the dangerous logic of the balance of power with cooperation in respect for the identity and the independence of each.
Now we are brought back to a world where force prevails over the law, where every crisis must have a victor and a vanquished, and where propaganda denies the reality. Let us first recall the facts that no manipulation can hide in the age of television and the Internet.
The facts are straightforward. The Russian army is occupying Crimea, Ukrainian territory, against the will of the Ukrainian Government and in violation of international law. The reasons invoked are blatant untruths. No one is killing anyone in the streets of Kyiv today. No one is threatening the Russian-speaking populations in Crimea or elsewhere. Those are only excuses, which even those voicing them cannot believe, so crude they are.
By occupying Crimea, Russia has taken a territorial bet. The goal is clear — to bring the authorities of Kyiv to heel, to bring them back into the sphere of influence of Moscow and to remind them that their sovereignty is limited, as Mr. Brezhnev once said after invading Czechoslovakia. In short, Russia is taking Europe back 40 years. It is all there: the practice and the Soviet rhetoric, the brutality and the propaganda.
France does not want to play this ridiculous game, which does not serve the interests of anyone, and certainly not the Ukrainian and Russian people. That is why, at the very beginning of the crisis, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, along with his German and Polish colleagues, went there to negotiate an agreement, which Russia has refused to endorse until now, only to invoke it today.
When events — the President’s flight and the Parliament’s about-face — made it impossible for the agreement to be implemented, France continued to defend its spirit — reconciliation through the formation a Government of national unity and the holding of elections under international supervision. That is what is being proposed today by the Prime Minister, who is being stymied by the refusal of the Party of Regions to join the Government. That is what the acting President is seeking; he has refused to sign a law that, rashly and unfortunately, diminished the role of the Russian language.
In line with the position of seeking a reasonable solution that respects everyone’s interests and sensitivities in the framework of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, there are six points that should be the basis for putting an end to the crisis. These six simple points should be accepted by all parties who respect international law: first, the return of Russian armed forces to their bases, verified by international observers; secondly, the immediate cantonment, disarmament and dissolution of paramilitary elements and other groups with illegal weapons, monitored by international observers; thirdly, the Ukrainian Parliament’s re-establishment of the law on regional languages; fourthly, the establishment of a high council for the protection of minorities; fifthly, the implementation of constitutional reforms; and sixthly, the organization of presidential elections on 25 May under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). These are simple principles, the implementation of which international mediation should be able to negotiate with all the parties concerned. The Secretary-General of our Organization, together with the European Union and the OSCE, has a central role to play in that area.
But let there be no mistake — the will to find a negotiated solution that meets the requirements of international law, safeguards the rights of all Ukrainians, and makes it possible to stabilize a democratic and unified Ukraine in its regional context, cannot accommodate the persistent violations of international law perpetrated by Russia. France wants to cooperate with Russia, with which we have a long common history, but not at any price and not in violation of our principles and values.
The denial of reality, the scorn for international law and the renunciation of any discourse that protects national sovereignty that we have heard today do not inspire optimism. Russia seems to be returning to its old ghosts, playing outmoded roles in an outdated setting on the stage of a bankrupt theatre. If it continues to misread the mindset of the new times and to place more trust in force than in dialogue, it is with regret but with determination that France, with its European partners, will draw consequences in its relations with Russia. Russia alone would be responsible for that setback. France, its partners and the international community as a whole ask only for respect for international law and Ukrainian sovereignty, which Russia is clearly and brutally violating.
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