OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Edi Rama, and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger expressed their deep concern about reports of heavy fighting near the Zolote disengagement area in eastern Ukraine today. They regretted in particular the reports of casualties. While noting that the fighting there was reported to have stopped, they called for restraint and full respect for the ceasefire, especially after the many recommitments and reaffirmations most recently in the conclusions of the Normandy-format Summit in Paris on 9 December.
“This latest incident is not isolated,” said Rama.“Every day the ceasefire is violated, despite the undertakings set out in the Minsk agreements, and the explicit commitment to ‘a full and comprehensive implementation of the ceasefire’ agreed in Paris two months ago. This has a terrible and continuing impact on the civilian population in the affected areas. It is essential that all those concerned ensure the commitment to a full and sustainable ceasefire becomes a reality.”
The Chairperson-in-Office stressed the commitment of the Albanian Chairmanship to work on improving the security situation and the daily lives of the people living in conflict-affected areas.
He recalled that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is working in a volatile and unpredictable environment. “I underline, once again, the necessity to ensure safe, secure and unimpeded access for the Mission throughout Ukraine,” he said.
OSCE Secretary General Greminger added: “Once again I urge all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to honour the commitments undertaken. The positive steps we have seen on the ground in recent months should not be undone. All sides have an obligation towards a long-lasting and comprehensive ceasefire that will bring an end to the violence that has impacted so many lives and destroyed infrastructure.”
Rama and Greminger also reiterated their support for the Normandy format discussions and the work of the Trilateral Contact Group. “We have seen some small but significant steps in recent months. This latest incident is a reminder of how much work there is still to be done, but also that we must do all we can to ensure positive momentum is maintained and consolidated, despite challenges.”