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  • 7 December 2018

    Today’s talks of foreign ministers in Italy were dominated by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, including the recent escalation in the Kerch Strait area.

    “Solving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is indispensable for ensuring European security. Poland will never recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, nor will we accept the persistent destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” said Minister Czaputowicz. He also expressed concern over some recent attempts to undermine efforts to regulate the conflict. These include the so-called elections which were carried out in eastern Ukraine in violation of the Minsk agreements, the Russian Federation’s unlawful imposition of restrictions on the freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov, and the use of force against Ukrainian vessels and sailors. He highlighted the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the conflict area, and recalled that over ten thousand people were killed and a further 1.5 million forced to flee their homes. As Minister Jacek Czaputowicz also pointed out, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which is made up of several hundred international observers including 40 from Poland, is currently the only international instrument able to monitor the situation on the ground in a relatively objective manner.


    In his today’s address to the meeting, Minister Jacek Czaputowicz reaffirmed Poland’s consistent support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.


    Amid the worsening security situation in Europe, Minister Czaputowicz called for OSCE mechanisms to be used more robustly to deescalate tensions. He highlighted the need to modernize the Vienna Document 2011, recalling that Poland introduced an initiative on preventing dangerous military incidents in 2015. “This is the optimal way to mitigate risks, increase transparency and reduce tensions,” he said. In his remarks, the chief of Polish diplomacy stressed that Poland advocates the promotion of democratic standards, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.


    Next, Minister Czaputowicz took part in a special meeting on the situation in Crimea and the Sea of Azov, hosted by the Ukrainian delegation. As the attendees emphasized, the Russian aggression against Ukraine represents a clear violation of international law. The Polish foreign minister spoke about his recent visit to Kyiv and the presentation of the Pro Dignitate Humana Award to the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is in Russian detention. As Minister Czaputowicz had emphasized in Kyiv, the award recognized Oleg Sentsov’s contribution to human rights, his uncompromising actions to protect the rights of people facing persecution and repression, and his commitment to the protection of the rights of the individual and respect for human dignity.


    According to Poland’s top diplomat, the international reaction to Russia’s aggressive military operations in the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait region will determine the country’s conduct in the future. The minister underlined the need for a more effective and resolute response to Moscow’s actions by the international community.


    Minister Czaputowicz also held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council.

    The Polish foreign policy chief and the head of the United States delegation Wess Mitchell talked about ways in which the international community could react to Russia’s aggressive behaviour in the Sea of Azov. Both officials agreed that it is necessary to take decisive action and urgently free the sailors who are being illegally detained by Russia. Furthermore, the meeting looked at bilateral issues, in particular security and energy cooperation, visa facilitations, and the possibility of including Polish citizens in the Visa Waiver Programme.


    In a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister Czaputowicz confirmed Poland’s willingness to forge closer cooperation in security and eastern policy. The ministers also raised possible actions to be taken by the international community in the wake of developments in Ukraine, specifically around the Sea of Azov.

    Moreover, Minister Jacek Czaputowicz met with his counterparts from Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Moldova, Tudor Ulianovschi, and Kyrgyzstan, Chingiz Aidarbekov. The talks focused on bilateral issues and the Eastern Partnership, which will mark its 10th anniversary next year.


    Bringing together delegations of the 57 OSCE participating States and a group of Partners for Co-operation, the Ministerial Council is the OSCE’s key annual event. Inaugurated today in Milan, the Council informally marks the conclusion of the Italian Chairmanship of the Organization, with Slovakia set to take over that role in 2019.


    Warsaw hosts two major conferences of the OSCE human dimension, i.e. the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) and the Human Dimension Seminar. The events are organized by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE’s autonomous institution which is seated in Warsaw.



                                                                                MFA Press Office

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