Thank you for convening this important meeting.
I would also like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco and Assistant Secretary-General Simonovic for their briefings today.
We continue to welcome the reports of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and assistance of the United Nations. We are fully committed to protecting and promoting the Human Rights of all Ukrainian citizens, including those who live in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. We have taken careful note of the issues raised by Mr Simonovic in the latest report and will continue to work closely with his team.
To ensure proper civil rights’ protection, eliminate totalitarian economy remnants and injustices of Yanukovych’s rule Ukraine needs comprehensive reforms. To this end, President Poroshenko launched a "Strategy of Reforms 2020". The 8 top priority areas are judicial reform and fighting corruption, law enforcement bodies’ reform, deregulation and development of entrepreneurship, tax reform, decentralization of powers and good governance, security and defense sector reform as well as health-care reform. Last week the Parliament passed a package of anti-corruption measures and legislation to strengthening the rule of law. The President also signed a decree initiating work on developing a national Human Rights Strategy. These reforms were drafted in close cooperation with Ukraine’s civil society. They are public-inspired and people-oriented. Further measures will follow.
But even as we work to build a better future, we continue to be absolutely clear that all crimes, particularly those concerning the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, must be fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice. This applies to the killings in the Maidan in February as much as it does to the tragedy in Odessa on May 2. The first cases concerning these tragic events are already in front of the courts.
The latest report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission presents further details of the appalling human rights situation in the areas under militant control in Eastern Ukraine. It highlights the role of foreign militants, particularly from the Russian Federation, and the continuing grave human rights violations committed by illegal armed groups. As the report makes clear, these groups are terrorizing Ukrainian citizens in the areas under their control. They resort to daily acts of abuse, including torture, killings, and kidnappings. The report details, for example, the introduction of a "Criminal Code", based on the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which provides for the establishment of military tribunals and the use of the death penalty.
We utterly condemn these violations of basic human rights. These are Ukrainians whose rights are being abused, by the militant groups who claim to be protecting them.
The latest report also draws attention to cases of the capture of Ukrainian citizens and their subsequent illegal transfer to Russia. Illustrative of this is the case of Ukrainian servicewoman Nadiia Savchenko who was kidnapped in July by the Russian security services at the territory of Ukraine and is currently being kept under illegal arrest in Russia. Her case is addressed by the Russian law enforcement agencies and the court in a way far from being transparent, with numerous violations of her rights.
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov is also being held captive illegally. Russia is refusing to grant consular access to Mr Sentsov because, as a resident of Crimea, he is now falsely and forcibly claimed to be a Russian citizen, which is a grave violation of his rights as a citizen of Ukraine, Ukrainian legislation and internationally recognized legal norms.
Moreover, according to the information available to the Government of Ukraine, both captives have suffered ill-treatment in Russian prisons.
We continue to be gravely concerned by the massive and systematic violations of human rights in illegally-occupied Crimea. In complete violation of international law Russia has forcibly imposed its national legislation there. Occupation authorities have also encouraged criminal acts against Crimean Tatars and other national minorities and religious groups.
The Russian authorities have refused to facilitate proper investigations or even comment on the killings and forcible disappearances of pro-Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists, including Reshat Ametov, Tymur Shaymardanov, Seyran Zinedine, Leonid Korzh and Vasyl Chernysh.
They have prevented Tatar leaders Mustafa Jemilev and Rifat Chubarov from travelling to the Crimean peninsula – their historic native land.
Illegal detentions, torture, property searches, confiscations, pressures on business and social activity groups became daily reality of the residents of Crimea.
We demand that Russia, as the temporary occupier of Crimea, stops violating the rights of our citizens. At a minimum the situation there must be internationally monitored on a constant basis. We welcome the continuing commitment of the UN to ensuring that those suffering in Crimea are not forgotten.
As President Poroshenko has repeatedly stated, Ukraine is fully committed to the peaceful settlement of the situation in the East of our country. This situation was not of our making. But we strive to put the end to the bloodshed.
It is this commitment to finding a peaceful solution that resulted in the signing of the Minsk Protocol and the Minsk Memorandum between Ukraine, the OSCE and Russia with the participation of representatives of militant groups.
Immediately after the signing of the Minsk Protocol the Ukrainian Government moved quickly to implement the agreement:
- Our Parliament adopted a Law on Interim Local Self-Government in Certain Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions and set the date for local elections.
- It also adopted a law granting amnesty to those involved in the recent unrest.
- We entered into talks regarding hostage exchanges resulting in over a thousand people being freed;
- We continued to provide humanitarian relief, working in close partnership with UN agencies and other international organizations. The new law adopted on Monday on the temporary status of IDPs will further facilitate our humanitarian efforts.
- We prepared a Plan for Economy Renewal and Growth, including plans for the economic revival of the Donbas region and have called for a donor conference later this year.
- And we have rendered all possible assistance to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in order to create conditions for its experts to verify the ceasefire.
We fully support current efforts to step-up these monitoring efforts, as demanded under Article 2 and 4 of the Minsk Protocol, particularly along the Ukrainian-Russian border. At present only two border crossings are monitored by the OSCE. This is clearly insufficient.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday our proposal to expand the monitoring of the border was blocked by the Russian Federation in the OSCE. It is of grave concern that despite being a signatory to this agreement Russia refuses to undertake tangible steps to implement it. It is clear that this is simply a cynical attempt to maintain the daily flows of arms, weaponry and militants from Russia to Ukraine.
We have strictly observed the ceasefire regime, the details of which are specified in the Minsk Memorandum. Since its signature, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have not undertaken offensive operations and have used their weapons only to defend themselves.
Regrettably, our goodwill has not been reciprocated. Militant leaders have openly stated their intentions to violate the terms of the ceasefire and their aim of capturing new territories, including the cities of Maripol and Sloviansk. Fierce fighting has been occurring around Donetsk Airport and the outskirts of the towns of Debaltseve and Schastya where the militants are trying to extend the area under their control.
It is a tragedy that Ukrainian citizens continue to lose their lives. Since the truce started, the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been shelled over 2000 times. As a result of these attacks, 89 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and 500 wounded. As a result of separatist shelling, at least 54 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, including 7 civilians killed by Separatist rocket fire near the village of Sartana last week.
For the Minsk Agreements to succeed all parties must live up to 100% of their commitments. The militants together with Russian troops, which continue to remain on our soil, must cease their offensive military actions and end the shelling of civilian areas. All foreign military personnel must leave the territory of Ukraine. And the Russian Federation must cease its illegal supplies of weapons and equipment, and restrain the flow of so called “volunteers” across our sovereign border and allow us to re-establish proper controls.
Unfortunately, what we observe now is the continuation of military built-up by Russia along our border and in the north Crimea. The illegal militant groups have been able to strengthen their military capabilities and are now threatening by further offensive military actions in order to seize other cities of Ukraine.
In making these calls we are simply urging Russia and its pro-Russian separatist allies to live up to the agreements they freely entered into. Particularly, we warn them to refrain from any provocations aimed at disrupting the coming elections.
This Sunday national parliamentary elections will be held across Ukraine. Local elections in the Donbas region envisaged by the Minsk Protocol are scheduled for December 7. The leadership of Ukraine will do its utmost to ensure their fair and transparent conduct in full compliance with international democratic standards and the legislation of Ukraine.
Both these votes are an integral part of the peace process and are vital for an inclusive dialogue at the national level. They will identify parliamentary representatives from all regions of Ukraine and legitimate local representatives in the Donbas.
As of today, due to the security situation in the East, parliamentary elections can be held in 11 out of 21 constituencies of Donetsk region and in 4 out of 11 constituencies of the Luhansk region. But it is important that everyone’s voice is heard. Therefore, we urge to grant free and secure access to polling stations for those Ukrainian citizens who reside in the areas that remain under the control of militants.
We also call on Russia to unequivocally condemn the attempts by the illegal armed groups to hold their own local elections on November 2. Moscow must make clear to the militant authorities that this effort will hinder the peace process and the results of this illegal vote, organized in violation of Ukrainian legislation, will never be recognized.
Since the beginning of this year Ukraine has suffered immense upheaval. Our territory has been illegally occupied and our borders violated. In pursuit of its own narrow self-interests, Russia has instigated a brutal insurgency in the Donbas region which has led to the loss of numerous lives, including the passengers of MH-17, shot down by a separatist missile. International law has been trampled and the human rights of Ukrainian citizens abused.
In this difficult time we are grateful for the support shown by the United Nations, members of this Council, the European Union and the members of international community who have stood up for the UN Charter and the principles of this Organization. But the crisis in our country is not yet over. We need your help now more than ever to bring an end to the violence.
In September we engaged in arrangements hoping to end the bloodshed and ensure sustainable peace. To fulfill this goal the terms of this agreement must be implemented in full, by all involved in the trilateral dialogue. We urge you to hold all signatories to their commitments.