During his visit to Ukraine today, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, expressed his full political support to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, according to OSCE press release.
By gathering information and observing, establishing facts and reporting them in an impartial manner, the monitors "are the eyes and ears of the international community in Ukraine", Burkhalter said. In order to enhance transparency and the level of accurate information about ongoing developments, the Mission in addition to providing reports for OSCE participating States has also started a daily public reporting, he continued.
Burkhalter met with the Chief Monitor, Ambassador Ertogrul Apakan and his two deputies, Mark Etherington and Alexander Hug. They discussed, among other aspects, the next steps in scaling up the mission, which counts 129 staff at the moment. Furthermore, he encouraged the mission to engage in dialogue facilitation in its areas of activities. In Odessa, to where he travelled after the meetings in Kyiv, he used the opportunity to discuss the situation with monitors and to gain insights in their work.
The OSCE is well positioned to assist in resolving the crisis with peaceful means, Burkhalter pointed out. He underlined the importance of the OSCE/ODIHR mission for the observation of the upcoming presidential elections on May 25 and of the National Dialogue Project.
In meetings with Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and Acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, he discussed both the activities of the OSCE in Ukraine and the evolving security situation. Referring to recent violent events in the eastern part of the country, Burkhalter expressed his deep concern and reiterated that the state monopoly on the use of force must be respected. He suggested that at this critical moment all actors involved should call publicly on all sides to strictly refrain from violence and from any measure which could lead to destabilization.
"It is our joint responsibility to prevent further escalation and to strictly stick to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act including the non-use of force, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes", Burkhalter underlined. He called upon all sides to do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation and to choose the path of dialogue and constructive cooperation over confrontation.
He welcomed plans of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the US and the EU to meet in Geneva on April 17. Referring to his proposal for a Contact Group during his presentation to the UN Security Council on February 24, he stressed the importance of dialogue among major external actors in this crisis.