At the outset, allow me to reiterate Norway’s strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the Crimean Peninsula and the adjoining territorial waters.
Norway condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and remains deeply concerned by the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in areas held by the Russia-backed armed formations in Eastern Ukraine. We urge Russia to stop fuelling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations immediately.
Furthermore, we condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and call on Russia to reverse this act.
We call also on Russia to discontinue the simplified passport application procedure for residents in Eastern Ukraine, which further undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The conflict in Eastern Ukraine must be resolved by peaceful means.
We strongly support the negotiation efforts in the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group. Norway calls on all parties to uphold their commitments in order to consolidate the ceasefire, and engage constructively towards resolving the conflict.
And as we know, women are key to peace. We call on all parties to ensure women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in all aspects of peacebuilding.
The sharp reduction in ceasefire violations observed by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) since the strengthened ceasefire entered into force on 27 July has been a major achievement. Norway remains concerned by unmet humanitarian needs in the non-government-controlled territories. We call on the parties to ensure safe and unrestricted humanitarian access to the conflict-affected population in line with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.
For the majority of the past year the people in the conflict-affected areas have faced severe restrictions at crossing points along the contact line which has reduced their access to necessary services. And children living in the conflict zone remain particularly vulnerable. In this respect, Norway urges all parties to implement the Safe Schools Declaration.
Furthermore, Mines, unexploded ordnance and other explosive devices continue to pose a grave threat to civilians. We call on all parties to refrain from laying mines, and to contribute to mine clearance.
The pandemic is frequently used to justify restrictions on the SMM mission’s freedom of movement. The SMM has implemented measures to protect its members and the population from COVID-19. We urge all parties to provide the SMM unrestricted access to all parts of Ukraine’s territory, in accordance with its mandate.
We are further concerned by the OHCHR Monitoring Mission’s reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in eastern Ukraine.
We call on Russia to facilitate full and unrestricted access to the whole of Ukraine for international human rights monitoring bodies.
Let me conclude by reiterating Norway’s support for the negotiations in the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group aimed at facilitating the implementation of the Minsk agreements. We commend the political will and constructive approach shown by Ukraine, and we urge Russia to reciprocate by implementing the provisions it has committed to.