OSCE Permanent Council Meeting
27 April 2017
Statement by Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer
Chair, Ambassador Apakan, distinguished colleagues,
Sunday’s incident and its tragic consequences have left us all deeply saddened.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr Joseph Stone, to the United States delegation, and to the SMM and OSCE team.
I also wish a full and speedy recovery to those SMM members injured in the explosion.
Australia deeply appreciates the courageous work of SMM monitors in eastern Ukraine.
These monitors have been the international community’s eyes and ears in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the aggression and violence that has claimed so many innocent lives.
Australia remembers the vital assistance the SMM provided us and others following the downing of MH17.
In these grievous circumstances, I assure you, Ambassador Apakan and colleagues: the SMM has Australia’s unwavering support.
Even before Sunday's incident, we have observed with alarm the increasingly dangerous conditions for the SMM, including hate campaigns and direct physical threats and intimidations targeted at its monitors in separatist-controlled areas.
We condemn, in the strongest terms, all attempts intended to intimate, threaten, restrict or harm SMM monitors.
Sunday's incident must be investigated in a thorough, transparent and timely manner. Those responsible must be held to account.
We are appalled by Deputy Chief Monitor Hug’s revelation on Monday that the position of the lethal blast was located on a road frequently used by monitors as well as civilians.
Continued fighting along the line of demarcation has not only made political solution more difficult – it has seriously deteriorated and endangered the lives of those left near the conflict areas.
We urgently urge all parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under the Minsk ceasefire agreements.
Again, we call on Russia to halt its campaign of destabilisation in eastern Ukraine, including by:
- withdrawing all support to separatists;
- removing all its military forces and assets from Ukraine; and
- fully implementing the commitments made in the Minsk package of agreements, to allow Ukraine to regain full control of its own borders.
And again, we urge Russia to abide by its international obligations, and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Australia will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea.