MINSK, 6 October 2016 – The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), Martin Sajdik, made the following press statement after the meeting of the TCG and its four Working Groups in Minsk on Wednesday, 5 October 2016:
“Among the economic topics, issues of water and electricity supply, the restoration of railway tracks and electrical grids, payment of pensions and social benefits were discussed today.
The payment for water and electricity supply, including the redemption of the accumulated debt, needs to be addressed urgently. We are grateful to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for its decision to cover running electricity bills for two months, which allows the resumption of water supply. Electricity supply is important for the pumping stations that provide drinking water to the population. It is only a stop-gap measure, not a sustainable solution. It provides for more time. However, only a political solution can resolve this issue.
In the political field, as during previous meetings, the modalities of local elections, a roadmap on political issues, and amnesty issues were among the topics discussed.
In the field of security, the discussion centred around the implementation of the Framework Decision on the Disengagement of Forces and Hardware of 21 September 2016, in particular in the first three priority areas – Zolote, Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrivske. Specific dates for starting actual disengagement were negotiated both in the Working Group on Security Issues and in the TCG. We have reached a mutual understanding that each party shall declare its respective disengagement schedule. Full adherence to the ceasefire would certainly contribute greatly to the prompt implementation of the Framework Decision.
Among the humanitarian issues the exchange of detainees related to the conflict was discussed. The co-ordinator of the Humanitarian Working Group Toni Frisch, will be travelling to certain areas of Donetsk region in the near future to meet detainees and examine their detention conditions.
Concerning the rights of children, problems related to social payments for children in orphanages in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk region were examined in detail.
A key issue is the restoration of access to the pedestrian bridge over the river Seversky Donets at Stanytsia Luhanska, in view of the approaching winter. The head of the ICRC delegation in Ukraine, Alain Aeschlimann, informed us today that the ICRC will provide financial and technical support in this respect.”
Special Representative Sajdik welcomed the fact that in Minsk on 5 October 2016 the sides acknowledged the need to urgently repair the access to the pedestrian bridge (on the north bank of the river Seversky Donets) at the crossing point Stanytsia Luhanska, before the onset of winter.
In order to realize their commitment Sajdik urged the concerned sides to undertake the following steps:
- Fully support the ICRC in its effort to restore access to the bridge, as stated in the road map presented by the ICRC representative in Minsk on 5 October 2016.
- Ensure all conditions are met that ICRC representatives and involved experts are guaranteed safe and unimpeded access to the area in question, including by demining and / or marking and fencing off mined areas adjacent to the bridge.
Sajdik expressed his firm intention to put this issue again on the agenda of upcoming TCG meetings and urged the sides to regularly report on the implementation of repair works, which should be completed by mid-December 2016 in order to ensure safe access for the civilian population to the bridge during winter.