Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 10, 2021
Foreign Minister Linde, thank you for your clear and comprehensive statement on the OSCE’s priorities for 2021. The United States looks forward to working together with you on these important issues in your capacity as Chairperson-in-Office.
As President Biden has made clear, the United States is renewing its commitment to multilateralism and trans-Atlantic cooperation. We welcome and celebrate Sweden’s prioritization of strengthening the OSCE’s activities on the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. And as I said earlier this week, it’s time for all of us to turn our commitments on the agenda into action. We need to do more to protect women, especially women leaders, from threats of silence and violence.
As Foreign Minister Linde and others have noted today, the OSCE and the UN face shared challenges, ones we must address this year together.
We just passed the seventh anniversary of Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and the launch of its aggression in eastern Ukraine. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 13,000 people and wounded tens of thousands more. It has displaced more than 1.4 million people.
And the aggression is far from over. In Crimea, Russian authorities continue to harass and imprison those who oppose its occupation, notably Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups. The United States will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and we will continue to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in eastern Ukraine.
We welcome Sweden’s reappointment of Ambassador Heidi Grau as Special Representative in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group. The Special Monitoring Mission’s presence and reporting on daily activities of violence has improved the situation on the ground. As Council members, we owe it to the Special Monitoring Mission’s leadership, and all of the brave monitors, to do our utmost to ensure the Mission can operate freely and without hindrance.
In addition to its aggression to Ukraine, Russia continues to occupy nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s territory while supporting or systematically ignoring abuses of Georgian citizens living in or near Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia has not yet fully implemented the 2008 ceasefire, including its obligation to withdraw its forces to pre-conflict positions, or its commitment to allow unfettered access for humanitarian organizations. The United States firmly supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We urge the OSCE to push for Russia to end its occupation and implement the 2008 ceasefire agreement in full.
In Belarus, we urge the UN and OSCE to press for progress on the recommendations of the Moscow Mechanism report. The United States will continue to support efforts to facilitate a genuine national dialogue between the Belarusian authorities and the opposition, which would include representatives of the Coordination Council. The OSCE is well-positioned to support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people, and we urge Minsk to engage with the OSCE.
In Moldova, the United States supports the results-oriented 5+2 settlement process of the Transnistrian conflict. This settlement process should be based on Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally-recognized borders, with a special status for Transnistria. We will continue to support a sovereign, democratic Moldova that is firmly anchored in Europe and secure within its internationally recognized borders.
We also welcome Sweden’s support for the Minsk Group Co-Chairs in negotiating a long-term political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Both sides should investigate all allegations of human rights and international humanitarian law violations. It is time to bring justice to those responsible. Both sides must engage with humanitarian actors to complete the exchange process for all prisoners, detainees, and remains.
The United States will work closely with the OSCE to defend OSCE mission mandates, implement our collective decisions, and ensure that all participating States live up to our shared principles and commitments. We are in this together, and we wish Sweden every success in 2021.