Thank you, Madam President.
I would like to join colleagues in welcoming the President of the Swiss Confederation, His Excellency Mr Didier Burkhalter, to the Council today and thank him for setting out his priorities as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. The United Kingdom strongly supports the OSCE. As a major regional security organisation in the European space, it is well placed to complement many areas of the work of the United Nations. The strength of the OSCE’s institutions means that, when the will of all its participating States is present, the OSCE can significantly contribute to the promotion of security, stability, democracy and the rule of law across its region.
I would like to express the United Kingdom’s strong support for Swiss priorities in the OSCE. As Chair of the Security Committee, the United Kingdom is working closely with the Chairmanship to develop many of these priorities. We welcome the focus on counter-terrorism, notably on disrupting terrorist financing by working, in support of UN Security Council Resolution 2133, to end revenue streams obtained by Kidnap for Ransom.
We also welcome the OSCE’s continuing work in a number of other areas, not least UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and subsequent resolutions that have encouraged regional bodies to assist in implementation; UN Security Council Resolution 2117 on small arms and light weapons including in relation to the Arms Trade Treaty; and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and in this I would like to stress the inclusion of preventing sexual violence in conflict.
We also welcome the Swiss focus this year on the Western Balkans, where the OSCE has a long standing presence. It can add value here to the actions of the European Union and other international organisations, for example, through election facilitation, inter-community relations, on media and on Rule of Law. In Bosnia and Herzegovina we have been deeply concerned by the violence that has accompanied recent protests. These protests must be a wakeup call for all of us. There needs to be a major international effort to help strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions and its territorial integrity. The OSCE will undoubtedly have a role in that effort.
An important focus for the international community, including the OSCE, is the current situation in Ukraine, which has seen its serious violence and dramatic developments in recent days.
This violence led to the deaths of over 80 people and left more than 600 injured. Such horrific scenes have no place in 21st century Europe, and our condolences go out to the families of all those who lost their lives and our sympathies go to those injured.
Events have been moving swiftly in Ukraine. Mr Yanukovych has left Kyiv. In his absence the Ukrainian parliament has voted by large majorities on a series of decrees, the details of which have been circulated to Council Members this morning, in a letter from the Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations. These include the formation of a Unity Government.
The Unity Government must now move rapidly to build a stable, inclusive and fair political system and work to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Ukraine. It must create the conditions that will allow for free and fair elections in May, and ensure accountability for the serious human rights violations and the acts of violence we have witnessed during the last three months. We hope the Government will call on the undoubted expertise of the OSCE; free and fair elections are crucial for rebuilding the confidence of Ukrainians and avoiding future tension.
We would like to pay tribute to the work of the OSCE on Ukraine. Last December’s OSCE Ministerial Council took place in Kyiv, against the backdrop of large scale public protests. Since then the OSCE has played a positive role in efforts to support a peaceful solution, to bring the good offices of the OSCE for mediation. We also welcome the announcement that His Excellency Mr Burkhalter has appointed the respected Swiss diplomat, Tim Guldiman, as Personal Representative for Ukraine.
The United Kingdom is committed to supporting a stable, united and economically prosperous Ukraine. The role of the international community is to allow ordinary Ukrainians to decide their future. This is not a zero sum game. All in the international community want a stable and prosperous Ukraine. We all now need to work together to help restore stability and protect Ukraine’s economy.
I again thank His Excellency Mr Burkhalter for his presentation today. The United Kingdom will continue working closely with him and his team in Vienna, to ensure that our shared vision for the OSCE, as a forum for dialogue and cooperation across an often divided region, can be advanced during 2014.