21 February 2017, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ms. Helga Schmid, Secretary General of the European External Action Service, at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Conflicts in Europe
– As delivered –
Mr. President, Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen,
It’s an honour to be here on behalf of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and I would like to thank the Ukrainian Presidency for convening this meeting.
Please allow me to start by expressing the High Representative’s heartfelt condolences on the passing of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. He not only played a leading role on the UN Security Council for so many years, he was also a respected and an important interlocutor for the European Union on the many issues that are of key interest for the Union at the UN.
Ladies and gentlemen, for many of its citizens, the European Union remains a unique path to lasting peace, stability and prosperity.
The continent has, however, not been immune to conflicts. I very much agree with the Secretary-General that we cannot take peace for granted. And as conflicts grow more complex, our efforts to address them need to evolve. These efforts now involve action at multiple levels – the local, the regional and the global – with a wide variety of stakeholders and across the conflict cycle, from early warning to conflict prevention, mediation, crisis management and the post-conflict reconstruction.
This is why we so much welcome what UNSG Guterres has said right from the beginning about his focus on conflict prevention and mediation. This goes hand in hand with the key objective of the European Union’s Global Strategy, which is to address conflicts at an early stage while building resilience for societies around us. I would very much associate myself with Lamberto Zannier when he speaks about the need to include women in all stages of the conflict cycle.
Allow me to highlight the implementation of this approach by the European Union on the European continent:
- First of all, promoting stability in the countries closest to the European Union, in the Western Balkans, is a natural strategic priority. The “accession perspective” to the EU has carved out a path to heal the wounds of the past and foster stability in the region. It has encouraged transformation and modernisation amongst countries to whom we have given a firm commitment that their future lies within the European Union.
At the same time, the region’s fragilities deserve our continued attention. The Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, as facilitated by High Representative Mogherini, between the leaders of both sides has already led to substantial progress in the normalisation of their relations.
- Secondly, stabilisation has been placed at the heart of the recently reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy, in which the EU offers further cooperation on civilian security sector reform, tackling terrorism and extremism, disrupting organised crime, strengthening cybersecurity and last but not least conflict-prevention.
Through the Eastern (Partnership) dimension of this policy, we are contributing to conflict resolution by focusing on the enhancement of our partners’ resilience. This means taking new approaches, such as strengthening institutions and good governance, taking advantage of market opportunities, enhancing mobility, people-to-people links and interconnectivity.
- Thirdly, the European security order is based firmly on the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States, the inviolability of borders, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the free choice of countries in deciding their own future. Unfortunately these long-standing key principles of European security have not been respected. The crisis in and around Ukraine has demonstrated this.
Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence is unwavering, in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 27 March 2014 and our fundamental principles. We continue to condemn and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. European Union leaders have repeatedly made this very clear.
In accordance with Security Council Resolution 2202, the EU remains firm in its call on all sides to swiftly and fully implement the Minsk agreements, to pursue a sustainable political solution. We call in particular on Russia to use its influence with the separatists. The EU fully supports the efforts in the “Normandy” format, the Trilateral Contact Group and through the OSCE presence. The EU and its Member States are the biggest contributors to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which is doing a very, very important job. The continued fighting and loss of life in Eastern Ukraine demands redoubled efforts to implement fully the Minsk agreements, and let me also say, as already stated by Lamberto Zannier, measures, including recent measures [referring to to Russia’s recognition of administrative measures taken by separatists], that increase tensions and are not in the spirit of the agreements must be avoided.
As High Representative Mogherini has stated, the EU stands ready to increase our support for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
- Fourthly, unresolved conflicts are an obstacle to peace, stability and regional development that require a consolidated effort to manage and resolve.
The EU supports a peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova with a special status for Transnistria. We remain committed to active involvement in the 5+2 settlement process to support the OSCE Chair in Office’s efforts in this regard.
In Georgia, the EU’s Monitoring Mission ensures respect for the cease-fire at the line of control with the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia is tasked to engage with all stakeholders on measures aimed at peaceful conflict resolution. Our cooperation with the UN and OSCE is particularly advanced in this area.
On the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, our Special Representative supports and complements the OSCE Minsk Group and its Co-Chairs, while the EU also supports civil society and promotes peace-building activities across the conflict divide.
Finally, we are witnessing history in the making in Cyprus, with the UN-facilitated talks between the two Cypriot Leaders reaching their end game. Never has a settlement been so close. The EU has a special role to play because a future united Cyprus will be a member of the European Union. We are represented at the highest level in the Conference on Cyprus in Geneva, with both President Juncker and HR/VP Mogherini personally engaged and committed.
To conclude, Mr Chairman, let me reiterate that the European Union will continue to be a first supporter of the multilateral approach and a strong UN and will remain a very reliable and predictable partner in striving for common ground and win-win solutions in crises that are otherwise difficult to solve.
Thank you very much.
| Top |