Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at a UNSC open debate on the Middle East

As prepared. Check against delivery.

I thank the Swedish Presidency for convening this Open Debate as it gives us a vital opportunity to discuss some of the most burning issues defining the Middle East regional situation.

Mr President,

The Middle East Peace process remains at the very core of any efforts aimed at restoring regional stability. Ukraine consistently supports the Middle East peace process and the principle of a two states solution with Israel and Palestine coexisting in peace and security.

In this regard, we are outraged by the latest wave of attacks and widespread violence. Ukraine strongly condemns the terrorist attack in East Jerusalem on the 8th of January, which is another stark reminder how dangerous the situation has become. Preserving the existing status-quo and doing nothing will only lead to further deterioration of the volatile security environment for both Israelis and Palestinians. I want to make it crystal clear that absolutely no terrorist act can be justified and we strongly condemn any attempts to glorify such acts. Perpetrators as well as instigators and sponsors of terrorism must be brought to justice.

At the same time, both sides must demonstrate genuine restraint and refrain from use of force that could only stir up the violence and lead to increased casualties. This is a very bad time in the region to do things that can play into extremists’ hands.

Diplomatic efforts must be redoubled to contain and de-escalate the latest wave of violence and unlock Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Ukraine welcomes any international efforts aimed at bringing new dynamics to the Middle East settlement and seeking opportunities for the resumption of negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. We believe that the French initiative and the international conference in Paris that had concluded just recently remain an important element in the international efforts to give peace a chance. Nevertheless, it is obvious that any international effort aimed at encouraging the negotiation process cannot succeed without direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict - Israeli and Palestinian sides - and their genuine adherence to their commitments.

Ukraine reiterates its position that Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement lays within the framework of the unconditional fulfillment by the parties of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Mr President,

The Syrian conflict is probably the gravest regional and one of the biggest global challenges the world is facing as walk into the year 2017.

We look with hope towards the resumption of the intra-Syrian political talks scheduled to take place next month in Geneva. However, there is plenty of reasons to remain skeptical of the prospects of these talks. The underlying cause for that skepticism is the fact that Damascus is moving full speed to impose a military solution in Syria ignoring its commitments to the political track and implementing a “kneel or die” type of strategy.

By adopting the resolution 2336 the Security Council gave a generous credit of trust to the Russian Federation and its ability to deliver results after the announcement of the nation-wide ceasefire in Syria. However, after nearly three weeks we do not see substantial changes in Syria – neither on the battlefield nor in the political domain.

I believe that the Syrian government forces offensive in Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghoutta is the main impediment blocking the resumption of talks. To make this ceasefire work, a necessary level of confidence and trust should be built up among all parties, which is clearly missing now after so many years of the Syrian conflict. The establishment of a credible multi-party monitoring mechanism with the participation of the UN is key requirement for any viable ceasefire to work. Unfortunately, so far the monitoring mechanism, embedded in the ceasefire agreements of December 29th , remains only on paper.

We believe that only a full implementation and adherence to the letter and spirit of the 2012 Geneva communique and Resolution 2254 can lead to the settlement of the conflict in Syria. That is why the only way out of the current imbroglio is a result-oriented discussion on the establishment of a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian governance transition body, followed by adoption of a new constitution and holding of elections.

Mr President,

Ukraine is convinced of the urgent need to put an end to the violence in Yemen.

The continued lack of progress of the intra-Yemeni political process is deeply troubling. Absence of a final agreement so far, however, should not be interpreted by the parties as a pretext to escalating fighting. The nationwide ceasefire must be reestablished and observed paving the way for a new round of talks.

Therefore we call on the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions and to conduct these negotiations in the most flexible and constructive manner that would enable them to swiftly reach a final and comprehensive agreement.

Without a meaningful dialogue the results may be disastrous. The only party that would benefit from this would be the terrorist groups that are increasingly active in Yemen. It is increasingly worrisome to see Al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula continuing to demonstrate sustained ability to expand its base of support in Yemen and exploit deepening division lines in the war-torn Yemeni society.

Mr. President,

A rapidly evolving threat of violent extremism surpasses the boundaries of any region. It benefits from existing conflicts and continues to destabilize the countries across the Middle East.

ISIL, despite some serious military setbacks, remains a viable threat to the regional and global security. Pending the ultimate inevitable conventional military defeat of ISIL there is an urgent need to elaborate a “day after strategy”, with regional actors playing a leading role to prevent a resurgence of its clones.

Without a clear way out of the multiple crises that are tearing apart the Middle East, particularly those in Syria, Yemen and Iraq it will be impossible to contain the growing threat of violent extremism and the global spread of terrorist groups.

Thank you, Mr. President.