Total silence in Donbas requires greater political will - OSCE

Total silence in Donbas requires greater political will - OSCE

The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Ambassador Heidi Grau, has said that the commitment to the ceasefire in the Donetsk conflict zone is overall respected, but that total silence requires greater political will by the sides.

According to Ukrinform, Grau said this in a statement after the regular meetings of the TCG ‎and its Working Groups held through video conferencing.

She noted that observations by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) indicate that the commitment to the ceasefire in the conflict zone and additional measures to strengthen it are overall respected.

"According to the SMM, the average number of ceasefire violations last week was ten times lower than in February 2020. Achieving total silence however requires greater political will by the sides. In addition, continued restrictions and impediments to the SMM's safe and secure access throughout Ukraine, as well as to the use of its technical means, prevent monitoring from being carried out effectively and in full," Grau said.

She said that all these issues were the subject of discussion in the Security Working Group.

"Besides, its participants considered procedures related to the functioning of the co-ordination mechanism for responding to ceasefire violations. The requirement to notify the use of disciplinary actions for ceasefire violations, as confirmed by SMM, was emphasized," she said.

According to Grau, the Political Working Group focused on issues related to the implementation of the tasking given by the TCG to develop a draft action plan in full compliance with the Minsk agreements.

The participants of the Humanitarian Working Group discussed outstanding issues that need to be solved to allow the simultaneous opening and full operation of the new entry-exit crossing points near Zolote and Shchastia of the Luhansk region.

"The issue of mutual release and exchange of conflict-related detainees was also duly considered. Political considerations should not prevail over humanitarian ones in the search for solutions to these issues," she said.

Grau also said that participants of the Economic Working Group discussed water supplies across the contact line in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

"An extensive discussion on environmental issues took place, including the possibility of setting up an international expert group to assess independently the situation in flooded mines in the conflict zone," she said.

Grau noted that on Monday, March 1, a convoy with humanitarian aid intended for certain areas of Luhansk region of Ukraine crossed, for the first time, the contact line via the entry-exit crossing point Shchastia. She said it was an encouraging step and good news for the civilian population and expressed hope that delivery of humanitarian goods to certain areas of the Donetsk region of Ukraine would soon be resumed too.

A meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict in Donbas took place on March 3.


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