OSCE: ‘Minsk agreement not shopping list, all points must be implemented’
RT:A spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic says the OSCE has been provided with all the plans and routes for the heavy arms withdrawal, but your organization denies that. So what is going on?
Alexander Hug: The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission presently has a robust presence in the area that is not controlled by the government as well as in the area controlled by the government, and along the contact line. We have been saying all along that the task given to us by the Minsk package signed on February, 12 is a task of verifying, and verifying the withdrawal of heavy weapons is a different task than monitoring the movement of heavy weapons. And the big difference is to make sure that they can attest to the fact that weapons are being removed and remain removed. Now for us to be able to say that we need to know not only where they are at the moment, and which routes they have been taking out, most importantly we need to know where they are being located so we can go back to that location and attest to the fact that the amount of hardware that is stored in this location remains the same over time, and we can attest that these heavy weapons don’t go back into the zone where they cause so much havoc, they kill, they destroy the infrastructure, and this is what we want to do and we can only do that if we have the cooperation of both sides to provide us the information we need as the basis for our verification task.
RT:But your people are in Donetsk, can't they physically see how the armor is being pulled out?
AH: I have just to make it clear again. Seeing the movement of hardware is something slightly different than verifying that a withdrawal has happened. As you can see from our daily report [Wednesday] we have clearly stated that the Mission has seen hardware being moved in a certain direction. This however is so much short of verifying that weapons have been withdrawn, stored away and not been able to reengaged or redeployed.
The Minsk agreement is a package of measures, it includes 13 measures. It is not a shopping list. It is a package to which all sides have agreed, and we call upon all sides to implement all of these measures, not just one or the other measure or just half or a partial withdrawal. No, it’s a complete ceasefire, entire withdrawal and as soon as that happens the mission will be able to verify and attest to the fact that the parties have lived up to it.
RT:But if one aspect is not holding up to the agreement, the other is also asking so…
AH: The first part of the agreement says that the fire should be held and held all across the contact line.As you can see from our daily report we clearly can attest that both sides are still not able to jointly enforce this ceasefire which is the foundation for the entire package put in place. And we continue to monitor any other incidents in the area, within the area controlled by the government but also where the government has no control.
RT:Would you agree that there have been some violations of the agreement taking place?
AH: What we can certainly say that comparatively the situation now is calmer. We see that in some places the ceasefire holds indeed, but the strategic places such as the harbor town of Mariupol especially to the east of that, then to the west of the city of Donetsk, in and around the airport area, and even in Debaltsevo there is still heavy fighting. Just as an example, last Saturday we went to Debaltsevo finally, but when we were in the town in the afternoon for half an hour we heard at least a hundred outgoing artillery shells and several incoming.
RT:On Monday, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said that Kiev wants UN or European peacekeepers on the ground, saying that OSCE monitors cannot control the situation. What's your reaction to this?
AH: The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission is mandated to cooperate with everyone in Ukraine and we cooperate …with the EU and UN family that has a presence in an ever-growing footprint in the country. We welcome any initiative in addition to ours that will help to bring stability and tranquility to this area, and we are ready to cooperate with any additional mission initiative project that has been put in place to put finally an end to the bloodshed.
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