Situation in Ukraine

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Ambassador Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand, 17 February 2015.

New Zealand associates itself with the statement made by Malaysia, and we compliment Malaysia on that particular initiative.

Mr President: It’s no secret that, over the past four days, this Council has struggled to negotiate a mutually acceptable text for this resolution. Given the history of the matter, given the bitterness of the conflict, and given the active support of troops and materiel which continues to be provided to the Separatists, that struggle was hardly surprising.

Those problems should not, Mr President, however, obscure the very simple truth that, above all, our combined objective must be to see an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine – a genuine and holding ceasefire, with lives saved as a result; to see respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; and to see an end to external support for the Separatists. That’s the standard by which we have judged this resolution; and voted accordingly.

New Zealand really does appreciate the fact that Europeans have at last been able to come together and to act together to address this crisis, and, as a result of this resolution, can now be seen to do so with unequivocal support of this Council. That’s what we understand the four negotiating parties sought to achieve in Minsk last week and, indeed, in that same city in September of last year; so we have supported the outcome they agreed.

We mightn’t like the compromises; we might identify shortcomings; we know that ceasefires don’t always hold, and certainly as events, right now in Debaltseve clearly demonstrate, they don’t always hold with consistency at all times and in all places; but it’s been agreed by those most directly affected, and we have now sent a clear signal of this Council’s support for a ceasefire as another step towards the long-need political settlement and we have done so unanimously as the UN Security Council.

Mr President: Along with fellow Council member, Malaysia, New Zealand has a direct interest in respect of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 – a victim of the Ukrainian conflict; an interest we share with non-Council members Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands and the Philippines, with whom we’ve actively consulted over these past four days.

The Council’s previous decisions on MH17 are absolutely clear; so we welcome the re-affirmation of Resolution 2166, the primary statement by this Council regarding the accountability of those who illegally launched a surface-to-air missile at a civilian passenger aircraft, murdering 298 people on board. We thank the primary sponsors for taking up and incorporating the language proposed by Malaysia and New Zealand during the negotiations, thus ensuring that the victims are not forgotten, and that those responsible might ultimately be held to account. New Zealand agrees with the United Kingdom that the amnesty agreed in Minsk does not and cannot apply to those responsible for that crime

Mr President: The adoption of this resolution does not take place in a vacuum – a point implicitly acknowledged in the Council’s press statement of one hour ago.

The Council is keenly aware of the fragility of the present ceasefire, of instances where it is only partly observed, and of places like Debaltseve where, right now, it’s being outright ignored, so that one side can secure an advantage – on the ground - a territorial advantage –after which they might then pretend to be observing what had previously been agreed. That can only be deplored; but it doesn’t alter the fact that the parties have solemnly committed to a ceasefire; and that in most places it’s holding – and, where it’s holding, it’s saving lives.
All of us must continue to urge compliance with the Minsk agreements and with this resolution.

Particularly, Russia as a party to the Minsk agreements which agreed that ceasefire, and it’s in that capacity we call on it to use all its undoubted and considerable influence on the Separatists to require them to honour that which has been agreed. If that happens, Mr President, more lives will be saved as a result.


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