A stereotyped playbook we have seen in Georgia in 2008

STATEMENT BY HE. Mr. FERIT HOXHA, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of ALBANIA to the UN

(Security Council UNSC Briefing – Letter of Russian Federation PR (S/2014/264) New York, 17 February 2022)

Mr. President,

I thank the USG DiCarlo, Ambassadors Kinnunen and Cevik for their briefing. We welcome the high-level participation in this meeting.

Let me first express our gratitude to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which continues to work in a volatile and unpredictable environment, and as we heard, under multiple challenges and restrictions. We must continue to support the women and men of the SMM, their tireless efforts in contributing to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security, and to monitoring and supporting the implementation of all OSCE principles and commitments, throughout Ukraine.

Mr. President,

Albania supports the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. We reject any pressure on Ukraine to implement Minsk Agreement according to one side interpretation.

Albania expresses its full support for the rights of minorities in Ukraine and anywhere else.

Minorities should enjoy their rights and participate actively in the social and political life of the country where they live.

This must be part of overall commitments to equally serving all the population and building an inclusive and democratic society.

Yet, as we have seen more than once, problems start when minorities are intentionally instrumentalised to create dysfunctional states.

Asking for “executive powers” for Russian minorities in Ukraine, means nothing less than taking control of the decision-making power in Kiev to dictate Foreign, Security and Defense policies, and undermine the democratic processes.

We should not accept such policy of fabricating dysfunctional states. Not in Ukraine. Not anywhere.  

In this very context, we are deeply concerned about the Russian parliament’s call for the recognition of independence and sovereignty of parts of the territory of Ukraine.

Here we are with a stereotyped playbook we have seen in Georgia in 2008.

If taken, such decision would not have any legal validity. They are against international law and the UN Charter. They run totally against the substance of the Minsk Agreements.

Mr. President,

We continue to be alarmed by the very large scale, unprovoked and unjustified Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and in Belarus.

The much-claimed withdrawal of some of the troops stationed there is not verified and credible reports indicate the contrary, a further reinforcement with active combat troops and weapons, which, reportedly, now number 150 thousand.

This continued and reinforcing military surrounding is a Damocles Sword over the government and people of Ukraine, it instigates fear to the population; it frightens domestic and foreign investors, and seeks to bring the economy into collapse and the country to its knees.

The decision to partially block the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait under the pretext of holding regular naval exercises only adds to this strangulation effort.

Further, the most recent reports of heavy shelling from the occupied territory in Donbas only reinforce the worries about the pretext to start executing a long and carefully designed scenario.

In this context let me reiterate our firm position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

We demand the removal of the occupying troops from the occupied territory. We firmly condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and its military support to the separatist’s forces in the country.

Albania remains committed to the foundational principles underpinning European security, including that each nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements.

Any renewed attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a clear and further breach of international law, would severely affect European security and should be met with outright and vigorous condemnation.

We call on the Security Council and on the international community, not to let Ukraine down, not to accept policies and actions that threaten the existence of a sovereign country.

Mr. President,

Despite everything indicating acceleration of escalation, we will continue to emphasize the value and the importance of diplomacy and dialogue in reaching a peaceful resolution in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and dealing with Russian concerns.

Russia should take the offer to engage in a Renewed European Security Dialogue initiated by Poland as the current OSCE Chair.

We support the call by Secretary Blinken for talks with Minister Lavrov as soon as possible and renewed NATO Russia Council meetings. Every mechanism must be used and fully exploited for diplomacy and de-escalation.  

Finally, we welcome the calls of the Secretary-General to defuse tensions and to de-escalate actions on the ground. We would support the intensification of these efforts and the availability of his good offices in the search for a peaceful solution.

Thank you!