OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Kurz and Secretary General Zannier welcome renewal of Ukraine monitoring mission’s mandate
VIENNA, 16 March 2017 – The OSCE Permanent Council’s decision today to renew the mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) by one year will help ensure that the mission continues to play its key role in stabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine and supporting the implementation of the Minsk agreements, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as well as OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said.
“The consensus decision of the OSCE’s 57 participating States to extend the mission’s mandate and to allocate adequate funding reflects our collective commitment to the SMM and recognition of the outstanding work our monitors are doing on the ground,” said Kurz.
“I am convinced that the mission’s footprint can now be enlarged, which will increase the reach and accuracy of monitoring. This addresses the proposals I made after assessing the alarming situation on the ground in January. I am glad that the close consultations with both the Ukrainian and the Russian Foreign Ministers yielded the intended common result”, Kurz added. In particular, he welcomed the increased number of monitors and the plan to procure additional technical equipment including thermal cameras, acoustic sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles. “This will sharpen the eyes and ears of the international community in eastern Ukraine,” highlighted Kurz.
More than 700 monitors from 44 countries are working every day to provide an impartial and comprehensive overview of the situation on the ground and to facilitate channels for dialogue. “Yet as we have seen in recent weeks, the security situation remains extremely volatile,” he warned. “The SMM is there to monitor a ceasefire. Yet it reports violations every day - on some days over a thousand,” said Kurz. “I urge the parties to honour their responsibility in implementing the Minsk agreements. This includes a strict observance of the ceasefire and an immediate withdrawal of heavy weapons,” said Kurz.
The Chairperson-in-Office also reiterated his serious concern about the plight of civilians caught in the cross-fire as well as the infrastructural and environmental risks of attacks on sensitive sites, including chemical plants, water filtration stations, power plants, agricultural waste ponds, radioactive waste storage, mines, and metallurgical plants on the everyday lives of people.
Kurz expressed his gratitude to the head of the Mission, Chief Monitor Ertugrul Apakan and the staff of the SMM for their brave and dedicated work under very difficult circumstances. He called on the parties and all those with an influence over them to ensure the security of the monitors. “I am alarmed by the growing number of threats against civilian monitors, and denial of access”, said Kurz. “Their work in the name of peace should no longer be hindered.”
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier also thanked participating States for their continued support of the work of the SMM.
“The Mission’s monitors, together with the OSCE staff who support them, work tirelessly to inform the international community on the situation in Ukraine and to help achieve a sustainable peace and restore stability. It is important for this work to continue. We have the commitment from the OSCE’s participating States. Now we need the commitment from the sides on the ground.”