Statement by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UNSC open debate “Situation in the Middle East, including Palestinian question”

Statement by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UNSC open debate “Situation in the Middle East, including Palestinian question”

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Madame President,

I thank the US Presidency for convening this Open Debate, which comes at the time of great uncertainty in the Middle East.

In Syria we have entered 2017 with the same array of factors that had poisoned all the efforts to reach peace last year. Military logic still prevails over the political will to reconcile, blockade of cities, use of starvation as a means of warfare continue unabated, use of non-conventional and prohibited weapons seems to become a “new norm” and perpetrators are walking away without punishment.

We regret that due to the 8th veto of the Russian Federation last week this Council has once again failed to uphold its duties. The Council’s continuous inability to address chemical attacks in Syria is leading to further impunity and sending a signal to perpetrators that they can get away with murder.

Proxy warfare in Syria and the fact that the foreign controlled militias deepen their roots on the ground is increasingly concerning. Sustainable peace and stabilization of Syria requires expedient and organized withdrawal of those militias. This issue bears particular importance for the future of the Syrian state institutions.

Ukraine condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Rashidin on April 15 during the evacuation of the towns of Foah and Kefraya.

The highly volatile security environment in Syria continues to aggravate the humanitarian situation. The humanitarian disaster is a reflection of the overall situation on the ground: 643 thousand Syrians remain in besieged areas, more than 6 million are internally displaced, 13.5 million people need humanitarian assistance. This council must be pro-active in addressing this crucial issue. A more effective monitoring, verification and enforcing mechanism is badly needed.

With regards to the Syrian political track, today we are clearly at a very low point. Following the latest two rounds of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, It is fair to say that, unfortunately, we have not seen much desired progress on either of the “3+1” (three plus one) baskets. Why is that the case? The answer is obvious — it is a lack of political will, namely from the Syrian regime, to negotiate in full faith on the core issues.

Ukraine is disappointed by the absence of real results from the Astana process and the ceasefire negotiated within its framework.

We are afraid that the stalled political process may set in motion a vast number of alternative scenarios that nobody will like. Damascus and its allies need to realize that the “ultimate victory” standpoint is a mirage which will lead nowhere, prolong the crisis and contribute to increasing extremism.

We are convinced that any political progress would be unsustainable without a clear adherence to the word and spirit of the 2012 Geneva communique, Security Council Resolution 2254, transparent and strictly scheduled political transition.

We expect that the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva will hopefully resume in May. This will be high time for the Damascus and its allies to demonstrate a change, a change in mindset, in intentions and attitude.

Madame President,

Situation in Lebanon remains key to the security and stability of the Levant. It is therefore important that after the election of the President and formation of the Government, the political process maintains a positive momentum.

Stability of Lebanon remains to a high degree a hostage to the developments in Syria and wider regional dynamics. That’s why there is an urgent need at this stage to assist Lebanon in establishing its effective control of the border with Syria and prevent illegal arms transfers.

Madame President,

Ukraine sees an urgent need of putting an end to violence in Yemen.

We are concerned by the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in that country. The international community faces an imminent risk of seeing an entire generation of Yemenis traumatized by hunger and war. This is not only an immediate humanitarian challenge, but a long-term challenge for the stability of Yemen and the wider region.

Reaching a negotiated political solution remains complicated. As the parties continue the strife to improve their military positions, the Council’s unity on Yemen is badly needed to strengthen the position of the Special Envoy and the Secretary-General in their attempts to break the current deadlock and give peace a chance.

We call on the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions and to negotiate in the most flexible and constructive manner that would enable them to swiftly reach a final and comprehensive agreement.

We reiterate our concern with a clear upsurge of rocket attacks in 2017 launched by the Houthi forces in Yemen against objects located within the Saudi Arabia territory as well as maritime vessels operating near Bab Al-Mandeb. Such attacks must cease immediately and necessary steps should be taken to deescalate the situation.

Al Houthi — Saleh forces have to relinquish their arsenal of ballistic missiles under any future peace deal. Unless it is the case, any long-term settlement of the conflict would not be sustainable. More needs to be done to prevent even more sophisticated weapons from reaching Yemen from abroad.

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

Madame President,

Ukraine consistently supports the Middle East peace process and the principle of a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine coexisting in peace and security.

The lack of a direct dialogue and a stalled negotiating process create an extremely unpredictable and explosive situation.

Underestimating the ability of ISIS and Al-Qaeda to capitalize on the grievances of the current unsettled Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can backfire in the most unexpected and dangerous ways. In order to prevent such a scenario from happening the root causes of the conflict must be duly addressed.

Stopping violence and de-escalating the situation is an immediate priority. Concrete steps should be taken by all sides to calm tensions, to bring back the parties to the negotiating table, to renew peace process and to re-inject some confidence into the fading concept of the two-state solution.

Madame President,

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

We are concerned that even despite some serious military setbacks ISIL remains a viable threat to the regional and global security. For example, in Mosul where the military operation on the liberation on this city is currently ongoing. This city is truly deemed the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq. People of Mosul had enormously suffered from the despotic rule of ISIL during the last two years, but now they have a chance to be finally freed from the tentacles of monstrous terrorists masters.

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 in preventing 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 — coupled with the simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict — it will be impossible to contain the growing threat of violent extremism and the global spread of terrorist groups.

Thank you.