BERN, 27 April 2014 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter condemned the detention of a group of military inspectors from OSCE participating States and of their Ukrainian hosts in Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine, and called for their release. One military inspector was set free today for health reasons, he confirmed. While this is a positive step, the OSCE continues to work at all levels – through the Special Monitoring Mission on the ground in Ukraine as well as through high-level political contacts – to assist for the release of all the detained persons, he said.
The German-led group of unarmed military inspectors from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, and their hosts from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry were detained by a group of individuals linked to the “people’s mayor” of Sloviansk. The group’s visit was being conducted upon the invitation of Ukraine under the OSCE Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence and Security-Building Measures.
Burkhalter stressed that the detention of the unarmed military inspectors and their hosts from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry was unacceptable and that the safety of all international observers in the country must be guaranteed and ensured.
He thanked the participating States and all international partners for their support in the OSCE’s efforts for the release of the detained persons. He also expressed his expectation that Russia’s signals of support, which are crucial, would rapidly translate into progress in this regard. Burkhalter called upon all sides, particularly upon all signatories of the Geneva Statement, to actively contribute to conditions which allow for effective implementation of the Geneva measures. Furthermore, he repeated his previous calls to resolve the crisis in Ukraine through inclusive dialogue.
This incident goes against the spirit of the recent Geneva Statement agreed upon by Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Union aiming at de-escalating the situation and leading the way out of the challenging situation, Burkhalter said. At the same time, it underlines the importance of the international community’s efforts to assist all sides in Ukraine to keep channels of communication open and find ways to peacefully resolve the crisis, Burkhalter continued.