140518 Poroshenko and TsereteliOSCE PA President George Tsereteli and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Kyiv, 14 May 2018KYIV, 15 May 2018 – Following meetings with governmental and parliamentary leaders in Kyiv, a high-level delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly led by President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) stressed the need for a UN peace-keeping mission to help end the fighting in eastern Ukraine and to make full implementation of the Minsk Agreements possible. In meetings, the delegation also addressed the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict in Donbas and urged OSCE participating States to prioritize assisting the country in its efforts to ease the plight of the up to two million internally displaced persons.

Meetings were held in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Heraschenko, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mykola Kuzio, and the Ukrainian OSCE PA Delegation led by Artur Gerasymov.

The delegation arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Monday after several days in the Donbas region, where they witnessed first-hand the dire humanitarian situation and the impact of the continued fighting on civilian infrastructure. The delegation also met with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s (SMM) Chief Observer Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan and his Deputy Aleska Simkic. After the meeting, they renewed their appeal to implement the agreed withdrawal of heavy weapons, especially from urban areas. They noted that 75 per cent of ceasefire violations are the result of nightly shelling stemming from mortars, resulting in high casualties among elderly women, while the huge number of landmines has caused many casualties among children.

“The OSCE PA stands steadfast in its solidarity with the people of Ukraine who face tragedies on a daily basis and are suffering under the consequences of Russia’s ongoing military actions on Ukrainian territory,” said President Tsereteli. “We have consistently called for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements to end this armed conflict, but one ceasefire after the other is broken. Without a lasting end of the armed clashes, the vicious cycle which prevents their implementation will not come to an end. We therefore support efforts to launch a UN peace-keeping mission to be deployed in the whole conflict area including the border with Russia, which would finally make a fully effective monitoring by the SMM possible.”

140518 Meeting with Pavlo Klimkin smallMeeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Kyiv, 14 May 2018The high-level delegation includes former OSCE PA President and current Special Representative on Mediation, Finnish parliamentarian Ilkka Kanerva; Swedish parliamentarian and OSCE PA Special Representative on Eastern Europe, Kent Harstedt; the Chair of the OSCE PA’s human rights and humanitarian affairs committee, Spanish parliamentarian Ignacio Sanchez Amor; and OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella.

The delegation also repeated the Parliamentary Assembly’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. In its most recent Declaration adopted in Minsk in 2017, the Assembly called on the Russian Federation to “restrain its aggressive practices and reverse its annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

“An effective and sustainable ceasefire is an absolute priority, not only as a critical part of the Minsk Agreements, but as an immediate relief for those who suffer under the daily barrage of bullets and mortars,” said Ilkka Kanerva. “Political leaders must do their part to contribute to a safer environment for the people in the Donbas region. I believe that the establishment of a UN-mandated peacekeeping operation would be a practical step to start with.”

As part of their discussions, the OSCE PA delegation also stressed the importance of pursuing reforms necessary to implement the Minsk Agreements.

“Peace and stability in Ukraine are important for the entire region and for the security of Europe as a whole. I encourage my parliamentary colleagues in Ukraine to push forward with their reform efforts. Reforming the country can also help to alleviate the human suffering caused by this aggression,” said Kent Harstedt.

Ignacio Sanchez Amor added: “Beyond the tragedy inflicted on the Ukrainian people by the ongoing war, the human rights situation in all territories occupied by Russia remains of grave concern.”

The delegation also received extensive information, including through a visit to the “Transmission System Operator of Ukraine” (UKRTRANSGAZ) regarding expected grave economic and security hazards for Ukraine in case of the completion of the North Stream II gas pipeline.

140518 Meeting with GerasymovMeeting with Verkhovna Rada Deputy Chairperson Iryna Herashchenko and Head of OSCE PA Delegation Artur Gerasymov, Kyiv, 14 May 2018 Delegation members reiterated the Parliamentary Assembly’s readiness to contribute to de-escalating and resolving the crisis. The Assembly has served as a forum for discussions between Ukrainian and Russian parliamentarians, and regularly engages in parliamentary diplomacy efforts.

A final point discussed in the meetings was the possibility for a renewal of the Assembly’s commemoration of the Holodomor. The PA in 2008 paid tribute “to the innocent lives of millions of Ukrainians who perished during the Holodomor of 1932 and 1933 as a result of the mass starvation brought about by the cruel deliberate actions and policies of the totalitarian Stalinist regime.” (Click here for the OSCE PA’s 2008 resolution “The Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine.”)

The crisis in and around Ukraine is expected to once again be high on the agenda during the Assembly’s upcoming Annual Session to be held in Berlin, 7-11 July 2018.

Photos of the visit to Ukraine are available for public use on Flickr.

For the press release issued on 13 May regarding the Donbas leg of the visit, please click here