Statement by Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia at the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers
by H.E. Mr. Andrii Deshchytsia
Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
(02 April, 2014)
Dear Secretary General,
Dear Mr. Chair,
Thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee of Ministers.
Let me start by expressing our gratitude to the Council of Europe and its members for their valuable support at this critical moment for Ukraine.
To be frank, I have never even imagined that we would discuss here in the Council of Europe a conflict between two neighboring states, one of which is Ukraine.
So far we have always been able to find a solution for even the most sensitive issues.
Now, I must state that the Russian Federation, a member of this Organization, in violation of all international norms and obligations, including under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, the Statute of the Council of Europe and UN Charter, committed an act of aggression and annexed a part of the territory of Ukraine, seized Ukrainian military facilities and public property.
Russia does not listen to its friends and partners in the Committee of Ministers who urge Moscow to refrain from any violation of the values and principles of this Organization.
I want to recall that this country totally ignores all statements of the Council of Europe on the illegitimacy of the so called referendum in Crimea and of the manner in which it was conducted.
The Illegal referendum in Crimea and its further illegal annexation by the Russian Federation pose a serious threat to the existing European and world order.
What is most dangerous is that violations of the existing order create a risk of inflaming territorial disputes in Europe and around the world.
We appeal to the Council of Europe member states to look at this situation from the point of view of our ideals and principles, our common commitments on peace and stability.
The attitude you have today will shape the world in which we’ll live tomorrow.
It is not only about Ukraine. It is about the future of Europe. It is about the rules the world abides by.
Last week the UN General Assembly affirmed its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
In its resolution “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”, the General Assembly underscored that the illegal referendum of 16 March cannot form the basis for any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol as parts of Ukraine. The world body called on all States and international organizations to refrain from actions or dealings that might be interpreted as recognizing such an altered status.
The Assembly sent a clear message that any attempts to modify Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.
Out of 47 Council of Europe member states only the Russian Federation and Armenia voted against, while 43 members of the Council of Europe supported and 37 co-sponsored this resolution. The result of the vote in New York confirms that due to flagrant violation of international law Russia is isolated not only within the Council of Europe and OSCE, but also globally. The leadership of this country lost another chance to return to a civilized world and put itself on the wrong side of the history.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Council of Europe was the first international organization whose governing body adopted by overwhelming majority the decisions condemning the so called referendum prior to and after it.
Strong voices of Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress and other bodies in support of my country were heard in Ukraine and in the world.
I express our particular appreciation to the Austrian Presidency for its support and assistance.
And I warmly thank the Secretary General, who since November 2013 has been assisting Ukraine to overcome difficulties in bringing internal processes into a strict legal framework.
I hope that our next ministerial meeting in Vienna will be another occasion to discuss the further contribution of the Council of Europe to international efforts to tackle the situation with respect to Ukraine in the face of foreign aggression.
Using the minorities’ issue in Ukraine for justification of a brutal invasion was a big political mistake of Russian diplomacy.
Let me recall that the progress on implementation by Ukraine of the Framework Convention on national minorities was confirmed in the Committee of Ministers Resolution that was unanimously adopted in December 2013. At that time the Russian Federation did not raise the issue of alleged “violations of the Russian-speaking population” in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine. What happened during the two following months?
Moreover, the Russian Federation itself is not a party to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
We invite the Council of Europe to use all existing mechanisms for monitoring minorities’ rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as well as in other parts of Ukraine.
On languages I confirm that Ukrainian Law on State Language Policy remains in force.
Moreover the Parliament is working to improve it in compliance with the European Charter on regional and minority languages.
I would like to assure you that any draft legislation on languages which might appear will not be adopted without analysis of the Venice Commission.
Over the years Ukraine together with the Council of Europe has made significant steps forward towards genuine democracy and the rule of law.
However we still need to eradicate corruption, unfair justice and social inequality.
Now we need crucial reforms which Ukrainian society – East and West, North and South – demands from the Government and the President.
Not later, not tomorrow. But today.
We intend to make Ukraine a real democratic state based on the three pillars of the Council of Europe – the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
I reached a common understanding with the Secretary General that the new Action plan for Ukraine should include such important elements as:
- work of the International Advisory Panel. I am confident that all acts of violence should be prosecuted in a transparent and public manner;
- constitutional reform in line with European standards with full cooperation between Ukrainian experts and the Venice Commission;
- reforms of local governance that should address the needs of all Ukrainian regions;
- reform of the judiciary and the Prosecution to restore confidence in Ukrainian society;
- electoral reform to be carried out in compliance with Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.
Here I wish to express our gratitude for the mission of Mr. Jeroen Schokkenbroek, the special adviser of the Secretary General, who has been working closely with the Verkhovna Rada since early March providing advice on legislative reforms. This concrete form of assistance from the Council is highly useful particularly in the current period to help ensure that our legislation is fully in line with the Organization’s standards.
I thank the Secretary General and his team for the abovementioned immediate measures package within the existing Action Plan for Ukraine.
We count on the Committee of Ministers’ support of the Action plan for Ukraine.
I will bring to Kyiv a very concrete result –real assistance of the Council of Europe for real reforms.
I hope that our views and intentions will be confirmed in the decisions of this meeting.
I thank you.