STATEMENT BY FERIT HOXHA Ambassador and Permanent Representative of ALBANIA to the UN Security Council Maintenance of Peace and Security in Ukraine “On missile attack in Hrozu”
New York, 9 October 2023 10:00 am
Thank you Mr. President,
I thank USG DiCarlo and Msuya for their briefing.
Let’s imagine the scene: in a quiet and modest village in Kharkhiv oblast, peaceful people are participating in a wake after a funeral, joined in grief by the loss of a son from the village. The café had been closed since the start of the war. It re-opened only for this funeral service.
A fraction of a second later, the cafe was obliterated, the place is filled with thick smoke, and the air burdened by the unbearable smell of dead bodies torn to pieces. Death came again from the sky, from a precision ballistic missile.
52 civilians, one sixth of the prewar population of that little village was wiped away, massacred at a place of no strategic importance whatsoever except for having been on the target-hit-list of the Russian Army.
The Hroza massacre is not the first. It may unfortunately not be the last, as there is no sign this war is ending soon. But it underscores once again the terrible price civilians are paying 20 months after Russia’s invasion.
10,000 civilians that have already died and way more injured had done nothing to deserve this, except for being Ukrainians.
Just as in many other similar cases, we may hear it again : it was not Russia. Yet, Russia is the country that started and continues this unprovoked deadly war, it is the country responsible for horrible crimes, the country that has broken the law. In this specific case, it has also broken the universal ancestral law of absolute respect for those mourning.
Instead of accepting to do the only right thing they have been urged to, and heed the calls to stop the war, the Kremlin is trying desperately to convince the world that black is white through a relentless propaganda machine gone full swing, that is holding nothing back. Every absurdity is fair game.
News anchors, pro-Kremlin mouthpieces, various officials compete with one another to vociferate daily threats of all kinds, and spread false information with scripts filled upside down.
We are all familiar with the frequents rants of a former president detailing its favorite nuclear threats. We thought an-all-time low had been reached.
In fact, no.
The Nobel Prize of Absurdity, if it existed, would certainly go to the Vice Speaker of the State Duma, Anna Kuznetsova.
She said, and I quote: “Our soldiers have found documents on the sale of children and human organs from which Ukraine gets 7% of its national budget, with the support of private British military companies and Coca Cola.”
There is really something special in this Russian obsession of fabricating stories with organ trafficking.
For those who don’t have the time to do the math, 7% of Ukraine’s budget for 2022 amounts to 4 billion US dollars. Ms. Kuznetsova did not dwell on retail prices.
No one can do better in combining the ridicule with depravity.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, this time a real and respected Nobel Laureate, had long warned: “We know they are lying; they know, they are lying; they know, we know they are lying; and still they continue.”
Only a few days ago, the President of Russia said that his aim is to change the world.
For us, change means going forward, learning from past mistakes, strengthening peace, cooperation and friendship; investing in human rights and open societies; improving the life of people and by doing so, making the world a better place for all.
But if change means disrespecting international law and UN Charter, attacking and destroying your neighbor; violating human rights; suppressing freedoms ; applauding, supporting and embracing dictators; we don’t want any of it.
This change « à la russe » means simply going backwards, undoing progress and achievements, returning to times long since past.
Let me conclude with an important reminder.
Tomorrow the UNGA will vote to elect the new members of the Human Rights Council.
It may look like one of those numerous election processes in NY, which most often are uneventful. This one is not !
It is rather a defining moment, one to test once more the strong and high moral grounds of the UN.
Those who think that human rights have a meaning; those who celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human rights as one of the most consequential developments in human history ; all those who care for the credibility of the HRC and its work; they all should think twice before casting their vote.
Beware UN colleagues, here and outside this room: aggressors of their neighbors; killers of innocent people ; deliberate destroyers of civilian infrastructure, ports and grains silos; those who deport children and take pride in doing so; those who use torture and sexual violence as weapons ; those who blatantly disrespect the Human Rights Law have no place in the HRC.
Therefore, the same UNGA that has shown to the world that it doesn’t condone aggression has an important choice to make and demonstrate that it isn’t ready to take an arsonist for a firefighter.
Decisions have always consequences, and there is no wrong time to make the right ones.