Bern, July 14, 2014 - In telephone conversations with the Ukrainian and the Russian Foreign Ministers today, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister; Didier Burkhalter, reiterated the OSCE’s support in various ongoing de-escalation efforts. Burkhalter, in two phone calls with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stressed the importance and urgency of talks of the trilateral contact group with leaders of illegally armed groups in the eastern region of Ukraine in order to prepare the ground for discussions regarding a ceasefire.
Burkhalter emphasized that no further time should be lost as the OSCE had been working towards setting up a videoconference in this framework for days and was expecting the support and goodwill by all sides involved in this regard.
The OSCE is ready to monitor a ceasefire as soon as a political agreement is reached, Burkhalter said. He assured his interlocutors that the OSCE could also play a role in the facilitation of the release of hostages and detainees. Both interlocutors welcomed this proposal and suggested that the CiO and the Special Monitoring Mission should look further into this issue.
In both conversations, Burkhalter discussed the proposal of the Russian Federation to pass a decision regarding the OSCE monitoring at two Russian border points. Given the political will of both sides to see the OSCE take up such an additional role, Burkhalter mentioned that he would ask all participating States to contribute constructively and pragmatically to an early consensus on the respective mandate.
He added that a needs assessment mission by the OSCE should be deployed as soon as possible in this regard. Burkhalter pointed out that the OSCE was also accelerating plans to potentially use, within the SMM mandate, drones for monitoring, including in the border area. He welcomed that both ministers signaled their support for such a measure.
Following the formal request by the Ukrainian government, the OSCE Chairmanship is now also consulting on extending the mandate of the SMM for another six months beyond the expiration of its current mandate on September 20 2014, Burkhalter said. He expected a decision later this month.
Finally, Burkhalter suggested that an inclusive dialogue with peaceful citizens, mentioned as a key pillar in the Peace Plan of President Poroshenko, should be relaunched as soon as possible.