The United States warmly welcomes Ambassador Apakan back to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his very informative report on a mission that is central to this Organization’s focus. Ambassador Apakan, we applaud you and your team’s tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to support the Special Monitoring Mission and ensure its success as it fully realizes its mandate.
The OSCE made history on March 21 as participating States joined consensus to deploy a Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, which sought to reduce tensions, foster peace and stability, and monitor the implementation of all OSCE principles and commitments. Since that date, and on a daily basis, this Organization continues to make history as its monitors serve as neutral and impartial gatherers of information and facilitate dialogue among Ukraine’s citizens. We recognize that the entire SMM staff works endless hours to fulfill the objectives of the mission, and we are thankful for their dedication.
Ambassador Apakan, a simple “thank you” for your work would fail to convey our deep gratitude for your efforts in successfully pursuing the SMM’s mandate and in advancing the objectives set forth in the Geneva Joint Statement. We commend the work done by your leadership team, and in particular Deputy Chief Monitor Mark Etherington, to secure the release of the Vienna Document inspectors and their Ukrainian escorts. Mr. Etherington’s engagement and diplomacy enabled this group to return safely.
Nevertheless, the detention of these Vienna Document inspectors reminds us that the safety and security of all OSCE and SMM personnel is of paramount concern. While the government of Ukraine has consistently facilitated the safe and secure access of all OSCE personnel, SMM teams have often been stopped, and sometimes temporarily detained, at illegal checkpoints and turned around — inhibiting them from achieving their objectives. This hindrance of access by pro-Russia separatists is unacceptable. Therefore, we call once again on the Russian Federation to help the SMM realize its mission by vocally denouncing such actions and using its influence to prevent their recurrence. The Special Monitoring Mission has risen to the call of implementing the Geneva Joint Statement, but it can only do so if those who issued the statement on April 17 give it their full backing.
Ambassador Apakan, at your last Permanent Council appearance, we asked that your teams report openly and regularly, and they are doing so. We applaud the objective reporting that your teams are providing on a daily basis. We also appreciate the spot reporting done whenever an issue of concern arises. Given that a lack of clear information often creates misperception and escalation that can lead to conflict, the SMM provides a critical baseline of facts that citizens and policymakers can rely on. In that light, we appreciate the reports published for public consumption. These reports instill confidence among the citizens and stakeholders on the SMM’s capabilities, efforts, and results. Your continued efforts to ensure that these reports are available as close as possible to “in real time” will ensure the continued maximal contributions of the reporting.
Ambassador Apakan, the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission is clear and unambiguous: OSCE monitors should have access throughout all of Ukraine, and we encourage you to direct and deploy your staff where they are needed most. Recent events in Odesa and in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, indicate that the majority of monitors are needed to support Geneva implementation in these areas. As the SMM expands, we urge you to continue directing monitors to these locations, particularly in advance of the May 25 presidential election.
Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and is subject to Special Monitoring Mission observation. As reports of threats, intimidation, and ongoing abuses, including against members of minority groups, arise in Crimea, we urge the Special Monitoring Mission to exercise its full mandate and continue to seek access to this part of Ukraine. Similarly, we call on others around this table, including the Russian Federation, to support the SMM’s full and unfettered access throughout Ukraine – including Crimea.
The United States supports fully the Special Monitoring Mission and we have demonstrated our commitment by contributing to funding and offering experienced personnel. Here I want to talk a bit about our contributions and the contributions of others in two categories: human resources and financial resources. On the human side, the United States has and will continue to provide what we call a “deep bench” of highly qualified monitors, so the Secretariat can select capable monitors and so that we, the United States, can pull our weight in our contributions to the mission. We are aiming to fill the 10% that we initially aimed for, and we are seeking to continue to do that as the mission expands. We encourage all others around this table to also dig deep, look for expertise in your own countries, and I know that’s a crucial need of the Secretariat. We need the funding but we also need the bodies – the qualified bodies – to do the work.
Second, in terms of financial resources, I wanted to say something about operating costs. Each of those people out in the field needs to be fully supported, they need to be able to do their job, and the operating cost for monitors comes to roughly 10,000 EUR per month per monitor. So it would be good if everybody around this table who has so generously contributed monitors would also think about making sure that, at a minimum, you’re supporting the operating costs that are associated with them. I understand it won’t be possible in all cases, particularly for smaller States, but it would be a good thing to aim for. In that respect, I’d like to ask all of those around this table, including the Russian Federation, to consider going to their capitals and requesting the operational funds to support the monitors that you have generously provided for deployment in the field.
For the United States’ part, we committed $1 million for the initial tranche of 100 monitors. My understanding is that we are now today at exactly 200 monitors, so the second hundred have been deployed and we are moving into the third hundred. The United States is prepared today to commit an additional $2 million to the operating costs of the Special Monitoring Mission, and furthermore, we will commit another $1 million when the fourth hundred goes out, and another $1 million when the fifth hundred goes out, for a total of $5 million. We encourage colleagues, everybody, to go back to capitals and make sure that they understand that we are only approximately halfway toward resolving the funding gap that remains. I’d also like to take a moment to thank those who have already contributed to the Special Monitoring Mission at amounts above and beyond their respective scales of contribution to the OSCE. There are a number of States that have gone way above: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Japan (which obviously doesn’t have a scale of contribution but has generously given), Luxembourg, the Netherlands. I think we can all look to those States as leaders and try to match their generosity.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Related: Ambassador Baer Response to Russian Federation on the Situation in Ukraine