Elections in Ukraine another step towards stabilization, says CiO, calling for enhanced efforts to implement Minsk commitments
BERN, 27 October 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, congratulated Ukrainians for taking part in the early elections of the parliamentary assembly. Taking good note of the preliminary findings of the International Election Observation Mission that these elections marked an important step in Ukraine’s aspirations to consolidate democratic elections in line with its international commitments, he thanked the election observation mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the observation delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly as well as other international institutions for their engagement. He added that he regretted the fact that in Crimea and some districts of eastern Ukraine, which are currently not under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, Ukrainian citizens could not exercise their voters rights.
Holding these parliamentary elections was another crucial step for stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, Burkhalter said. The Protocol and Memorandum signed in Minsk on September 5 and September 19 respectively remained the indispensable basis for a sustainable solution of the crisis. He urged all stakeholders to fully implement the commitments under these documents, in particular with regard to the respect of the cease-fire and to an effective control of the border area between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The Trilateral Contact Group should convene without delay to as to advance implementation of these commitments, the CiO proposed.
Burkhalter expressed concerns about reports on a deepening social and economic crisis in the area of conflict and said that any of these issues could effectively be addressed only in cooperation with legitimate representatives of local communities. Local elections in that area must therefore be held in full accordance with the Minsk protocol and with Ukrainian legislation.
The OSCE was continuing to work at all levels to assist the Ukrainian government in its efforts to further de-escalate the situation, Burkhalter said. The expansion of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) to 500 monitors, including more than 300 monitors in eastern parts of Ukraine, was ongoing, Burkhalter added. He pointed out that the speed of this expansion depended on available monitors and equipment, on sufficient funding, and on safe access to the relevant areas. The OSCE was grateful for the more than 150 qualified candidatures since Minsk, he said, adding that the SMM will need further qualified monitors in the weeks and months ahead. The CiO also called on participating and partner States to help close the SMM funding gap until March 2015 of €40.0 Mio in order to enable the SMM to fully and sustainably live up to its tasks.
Burkhalter took positive note of the successful integration into the SMM of civilian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating under the authority and direction of the SMM. He expressed his expectation that this complementary aerial information-gathering possibility would support the SMM in fulfilling its mandate regarding the monitoring of the security situation in Ukraine. Following the offers made by France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine and the Russian Federation to put military UAVs and related personnel at the OSCE’s disposal too, rapid and intensive consultations on the modalities of the use of such UAVs had been launched in Vienna, Burkhalter said. A spirit of pragmatism and cooperation by all parties would be indispensable for consensus on this matter to emerge rapidly, he concluded.
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