I would like to thank Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Miroslav Jenča, and the former Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, Mr. Martin Sajdik.
By becoming members of the United Nations, we all agreed to adhere to the Charter. One of the principles of that document is the resolution of international disputes by peaceful means.
Another fundamental aspect of the Charter is its Chapter VIII, namely the importance of the work of regional organizations in maintaining peace and security. As such, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was founded in 1975. The OSCE took steps to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, including through the Special Monitoring Mission. It then succeeded to respond to the conflict in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014 by facilitating the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The OSCE also initiated a process to ensure a continuation of the dialogue. By assuming the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2014 and thereafter, Switzerland was involved in the efforts of the observer mission as well as in the negotiations and implementation of the Minsk agreements, adopted and signed in September 2014 and on February 12, 2015.
Despite difficulties with their implementation, the Minsk agreements were an attempt to resolve this dispute peacefully - as called for by the Charter. They played an important role in de-escalation. Among other things, this Council unanimously approved the measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. By recognizing the independence of the "people's republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk in February 2022 and by launching a military aggression against the entire territory of Ukraine a few days later, Russia has, as its President himself stated, put an end to the Minsk agreements. Russia has resorted to violence on a large scale, in violation of the UN Charter and in disrespect for the principles of the OSCE.
The OSCE has useful mechanisms and expertise in monitoring, confidence-building measures, security and verification. The staff of its Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has made an important contribution for years by providing objective information on the security, humanitarian and human rights situation on the ground. The OSCE has also contributed to improving the situation for the civilian population by facilitating humanitarian access to those most affected. Switzerland has supported the role of the mission and remains convinced that its expertise is relevant.
Let us also recall the founding principles of the OSCE, in particular the objective of ensuring the conditions in which peoples can live in true and lasting peace, free from any threat or attempt against their security. We therefore encourage the continued commitment of the OSCE, despite the great difficulties the organization is facing due to the war against Ukraine. Switzerland fully supports the efforts of the OSCE Chairmanship held by North Macedonia.
Finally, we call on Russia to cease all military operations and to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay. In the territories under its control, Russia is obliged to respect its specific obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law. Furthermore, rapid, unimpeded and sustainable access to humanitarian aid must be guaranteed throughout the territory of Ukraine, including in the occupied areas. Switzerland does not recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territories declared by Russia; the annexation constitutes a serious violation of international law. We demand respect for the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Thank you very much.