CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
I would like to join others and thank Ambassadors Apakan and Sajdik for their reports
to the Permanent Council. They and their teams continue to have Norway’s full support.
Norway is relieved to note the significant reduction in civilian casualties for 2018.
Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the two ambassadors have not found many other
positive developments to report on. We are deeply concerned about the situation for the civilian population in Eastern Ukraine, which is still no better than it has been. The
ceasefire continues to be no more than a theoretical construct on paper to which the
parties pay little or no regard. Not only are mines not being cleared, but new mines are
also laid. We yet again have to recall the obligations under the Mine Ban Convention,
the amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and other
instruments of International Humanitarian Law. The parties all have a responsibility to
protect the civilian population from the dangers that arise from military operations.
We commend the efforts of the SMM to facilitate repair of critical infrastructure. We
call on all parties to avoid damaging such infrastructure, which is vital for daily life in
the conflict-affected areas.
SMM’s monitors continue to face impediments, restrictions, threats and intimidation,
predominantly in non-government controlled areas. In addition to this being
unacceptable for our monitors’ safety, it also limits our ability to get a full picture of the
conflict. We recall that the SMM’s mandate covers all Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean peninsula. All parties to the conflict should contribute to the SMM being able
to fulfil its mandate.
We would like to thank Ambassador Apakan for his sincere efforts in promoting gender
mainstreaming in the SMM, as seen inter alia in the thematic report “Gender
Dimensions of SMM Monitoring” from December last year. A comprehensive approach
to gender issues is necessary both for the SMM to function well as a mission and in
order to achieve the best possible results on the ground.
After the Russian Federation illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, it has continued
to pursue a policy of gradually imposing unilateral control of the Kerch Strait and the
Sea of Azov. The clearest example of this is the arrest of Ukrainian vessels and crew on
25 November last year. Norway again urges Russia to release the sailors and the
vessels immediately and to honour its obligations under International Law, including
the Law of the Sea, and under international agreements to which it is party.
Norway reiterates its strong support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,
including the Crimean Peninsula and the adjoining territorial waters.
It is almost five years since Russia violated international law by occupying Crimea and
destabilising Eastern Ukraine. Since then, the conflict has resulted in the death of
thousands of people and displacement and suffering of millions. It also remains a
danger to security in the OSCE area, and a peaceful settlement is of utmost importance
to us all. We thank ambassadors Sajdik and Apakan for the important work they and
their teams continue to do under very demanding circumstances.