Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia prior to the procedural vote to hold a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine
First, let me remind our French colleague that there is no Russian-Ukrainian conflict. There is an internal Ukrainian conflict and there is a crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia, created by the previous Ukrainian government. There is no Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the context that you mentioned it in. If you keep repeating it, I will keep reminding you of that. Second, the law we are talking about was adopted on May 15, rather than on April 25. On April 25 it was passed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Russia has requested to convene this meeting because on May 15 former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko signed law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the national language” that was endorsed by the Verkhovna Rada on April 25. The law will enter into force in mid-July; some of its provisions will start being implemented in the course of several years. However, this does not change its essence.
Therefore, we believe that today the Security Council should proactively give assessment to this document, because it is our conviction that it expressly violates the letter and spirit of the Minsk Agreements, that the Security Council endorsed and supported by Resolution 2202 dated February 2015 and by the Statement of the President dated June 6, 2018. It means that we are talking about violating Security Council’s decisions.
Someone might think that language-related violations of the Minsk Agreements are less significant compared to daily fire at the peaceful population of Donbass by the Ukrainian army, Kiev’s unwillingness to ensure sustainable ceasefire, embody the special status of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in law, carry out exchange of detainees, etc. However, the importance of this issue reaches far beyond the framework of the new Ukrainian law. It is not a coincidence that the right to “language self-determination” is directly enshrined in the Agreements. If we take a closer look at it, we will see that the linguistic issue basically launched the centrifugal trends in Ukraine back in 2014.
It is well known that one of the first decisions of the Maidan authorities was abolition of the law on the status of the Russian language (official title – “On Principles of the State Language Policy”, enforced on August 10, 2012). It was after that decision that people’s silent revulsion at the Maidan events started to transform into struggle to preserve national and cultural identity. This means, the language issue is the root cause of Ukraine’s internal conflict.
We are convinced that the Security Council should send a clear signal to the new leadership in Ukraine saying that they need to move towards unity and solidarity of all Ukrainians rather than towards dividing them. They need to set a course to inclusiveness. Solidarity in the society is the best guarantee of sustainable political settlement. As far as we could tell, President-elect V.Zelensky put this signal to the core of his inauguration today. However, not everyone in Ukraine thinks the same way. Calls of nationalists to oust Russian from Ukraine do not subside.
We hope Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peacebuilding Rosemary DiCarlo and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier will give fair and unbiased assessments to this “swan song” by Mr.Poroshenko and to possible implications of his acts and plans for the settlement in the East of Ukraine.
We know that not all delegations at this table are eager to convene this meeting. Let us remind that a month ago when proposal was made to discuss the decree by Russia’s President V.Putin about issuing passports for the people of Donbass, we never prevented the discussion. Even though this is our country’s internal affair which has nothing to do with the sides’ implementing their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures. The debate that we had eloquently proved that. We believe every Member of the Security Council has the right to submit for discussion any issue, that in their view may pose a threat to peace and security.
Refusal to convene this meeting would be a harsh manifestation of double standards, and it would also undermine the authority of the Security Council.