BERN, 22 April 2014 - Swiss Foreign Minister and Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter commended first steps undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities to initiate the implementation of measures agreed upon in the Joint Statement on Ukraine of April 17, 2014.
Burkhalter reiterated the full commitment of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to assist Ukrainian authorities and local communities within its mandate and within the framework of the Geneva Statement. The monitoring mission, in permanent consultation with Ukrainian authorities on different levels, has assisted Ukraine in the operationalization of the Geneva Statement, e.g. with initial contacts with some of the groups which occupy locations, by identifying illegally seized buildings and by designing a plan for the structuring of the process towards the implementation of the measures.
The Chairperson-in-Office commended the Ukrainian authorities for having announced a truce over the Easter holiday, for preparing the legal framework regarding an amnesty and for launching a discussion on their decentralization plans. Concerned by reports referring to worsening situations in some regions, including violent incidents with hostage taking, he encouraged the Ukrainian authorities to re-double their efforts to plan, prepare, and start the implementation of the various measures decided upon in the Geneva Statement. It is absolutely crucial to keep the momentum to be able to benefit from the positive dynamic created by the accord in Geneva among the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, the United States and the Russian Federation and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, he emphasized.
Burkhalter confirmed that political will on all levels – national, regional, and local – was key to overcoming stalemates. He trusted that Ukrainian authorities would engage constructively and if necessary with confidence building measures to resolve critical situations.
He called on the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States to lend full support to the work of the Ukrainian authorities and local communities as well as to the Special Monitoring Mission. In this regard, he asked all parties of the Geneva Statement to publicly call on all stakeholders in Ukraine to refrain from violence, to swiftly liberate illegally seized buildings and unlawfully occupied streets, squares and places, and to disarm.
Burkhalter underlined that effective implementation of the Geneva measures will require full commitment by all sides to co-operate and proceed through dialogue over an extensive period of time. He expressed his gratitude to all participating States which are supporting the Special Monitoring Mission with financial means and seconded staff. To assist Ukraine in implementing measures mentioned in the Geneva Statement, further specialized expertise would have to be made available as well as funding to allow for a swift build-up of the mission, he said. Respective operational requirements regarding recruitment and funding would be presented to the Special Permanent Council on April 22, 2014, he added.