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Oleksii Reznikov and Helga Schmid discussed pressing issues related to the occupation of the territories of Ukraine

Published 28 May 2021, at 09:12

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid discussed a number of pressing issues related to the occupation of the territories of Ukraine by the Russian Federation during an official meeting on May 26th, 2021.

Yaşar Halit Çevik, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has also attended the meeting.

Oleksii Reznikov highly praised the consistent support of the OSCE for Ukraine.

"Firstly, I would like to point out the important role the OSCE has been playing in Ukraine since 2014 in resolving the armed conflict with the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, Ms. Heidi Grau, and the Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Ambassador Yaşar Çevik for their difficult and important work. It is indeed difficult, because the combat actions with Russia have been ongoing for seven years. We are grateful for the OSCE's support as the chief peacekeeper and facilitator in these difficult negotiations, and we look forward to such support in the future. We understand the difficult conditions under which the OSCE Mission operates and we are ready to express our support both to the Mission and to the OSCE Office of the Special Representative," said Oleksii Reznikov.

The Deputy Prime Minister informed about Ukraine's steps in the framework of reintegration and noted Ukraine's unchanged position regarding the consistency and commitment to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

"Currently, the work on the establishment of the Ukrainian National Center for Peacebuilding continues, the main task of which will be to establish a database of human rights violations related to the Russian aggression in the temporarily occupied territories. Moreover, one of the tasks of the Center will be to establish a national dialogue, which is a very important issue. The second important thing is the finalization of the draft bill on state policy of the transition period, which will take into account the fundamental principles of the UN on transitional justice. I would like to note that the drafting of the bill and the plan for its adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is in no way a refusal or transition from the Minsk agreements. We have submitted the bill to the G7 embassies for consideration, and above all to Germany and France as members of the Normandy Quartet. We plan to submit the document to the Venice Commission, and we definitely want to engage the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to the consultations. We would like to actively discuss the bill with our international partners in a completely transparent way," reported Reznikov.

Helga Schmid, in turn, noted the importance of resolving the issue of the free movement of people across the contact line.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine stated that this issue has been on the agenda for a long time, since December 2019, after the meeting of the leaders of Normandy Quartet.

"This is a very important thing, which is aimed at restoration of trust in the first place. The opening of the two EECPs near Shchastia and Zolote in Luhansk oblast was agreed on December 9th, 2019. The Ukrainian side built and opened them. Furthermore, you can see the new approach to building infrastructure at EECPs during a visit to Donbas. The EECP Shchastia is our new standard, and this transformation is carried out in cooperation between the central and local authorities of Ukraine, as well as with all the well-known and respected international institutions: the UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross. I hope that such infrastructure will be available at all EECPs by the end of this year. And you know, the infrastructure is also ready on the other side of the contact line. After all, when we were here with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the representatives of the OSCE SMM showed us pictures and clearly demonstrated the readiness of the EECPs on the other side. What remains to be done is to ensure the freedom of movement of people. And in order to achieve it, the role of the OSCE coordinator in the humanitarian group is extremely vital," said Reznikov.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine added that the issue of mutual release of detainees and access of ICRC to the places of detention was extremely relevant.

"Yet again, this was agreed in Paris in 2019. There is a law in Ukraine that allows the Red Cross mission unimpeded access throughout Ukraine. However, Russia does not allow the Red Cross mission into the occupied territories. This is not surprising, since the occupied territories are a concentration camp in the 21st century. "Isolation" is a modern concentration camp in Donetsk. Stas Aseev, who was released from this captivity, wrote a book about this torture, and currently with the support of the Canadian government we are working on its translation into English. The world should know about such terrible and horrible crimes. Moreover, the perpetrators of this torture have also been identified - they are citizens of the Russian Federation. Special attention should be paid to this issue," Reznikov said.

The parties also separately discussed the issue of forced Russian passportization in the temporarily occupied territories - Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city.

Reznikov also informed Ms. Schmid of the threat of an environmental disaster caused by the prolonged uncontrolled discharge of untreated mine effluents by the occupation administrations into water reservoirs in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which led to a significant violation of hygienic and environmental indicators.

"Radiation contamination should be noted separately. In 1979, the Soviet authorities carried out a nuclear explosion on the territory of the Yunkom mine, which is located in the occupied part of Donetsk oblast. After the explosion, the radioactive capsule was left dry and water was pumped out of the mine to prevent radiation from reaching the surface and groundwater. Currently the water is not being pumped out and the radioactive water is already flowing into the drinking water horizons. I talked to the IAEA Deputy Director General, Mr. Rafael Grossi, and asked him to submit mission request. He is ready to do this, but the Russians are getting in the way. That is about both Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as Crimean Peninsula. Let me also recall that the OSCE mandate also covers Crimea, since it is Ukrainian territory. At least remote monitoring of the situation by the OSCE, including the Crimea, is extremely important both for Ukraine and the whole world," added Oleksii Reznikov.

The parties also discussed other priorities in the development of cooperation between Ukraine and the OSCE.