OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Kurz calls for support for Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
VIENNA, 15 March 2017 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz today again adamantly called on all parties to the crisis in and around Ukraine to comply with their commitments and to actively support the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), against the backdrop of the latest escalation of risks for its staff and assets.
“Our monitors are recording around a thousand ceasefire violations every day in eastern Ukraine,” said Kurz. “Most of the explosions are caused by heavy weapons that should have been removed two years ago.” He urged the parties, and all those able to influence them, to honour their commitment to cease fire, finally withdraw the proscribed weapons and provide verifiable information about the location of units and material.
OSCE monitors have observed forces and hardware even in the disengagement areas that have been established, Kurz noted. “This is dangerous and a sign of bad faith,” he said.
The civilian SMM monitors are entitled to enjoy safe and secure access throughout Ukraine in order to fulfil their mandate. However, recently there have been a growing number of incidents designed to intimidate OSCE monitors, deny them access, limit their freedom of movement and disrupt their activities, including by jamming and damaging OSCE unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “Threatening unarmed civilian monitors and damaging OSCE assets is unacceptable. Those responsible must be held accountable,” Kurz said.
Kurz underlined the importance of a strong communication channel between the countries of the “Normandy” format (France, Germany, the Russian Federation and Ukraine) and the OSCE representatives on the ground, including the SMM. In that regard, he noted that Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the SMM, and Ambassador Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, will hold consultations in Moscow on 16 March. Further consultations are anticipated in Kyiv, Berlin and Paris.