Delivered By: His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires a.i.,
I thank Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča and Ambassador Martin Sajdik for their informative briefings.
It is profoundly unfortunate that we meet today to discuss the lessons learned from the Minsk Agreements in the shadow of the very war we had all hoped they would prevent. The Agreements were a worthy effort, and while they did not ultimately hold, they did offer an alternative to conflict. Surely a difficult but ongoing negotiation would have been preferable to the tragedy that has unfolded over the past year.
Searching Minsk for lessons, however, we find that a successful agreement cannot be reduced into a mere talking point – it must be nurtured as a living, breathing organism in which the peace grows, drawing the parties and their partners in, and in the process transforming them.
As the prospects for peace negotiations to end the war in Ukraine grow dimmer by the day, we are concerned that the wrong lessons are being drawn from Minsk:
First, that the past is preordained. The deterioration in relations between the parties and stakeholders of the Minsk Agreements, the war in Ukraine, and recent public statements may lead some to conclude that the Agreements were destined to fail. That reaction is understandable. Yet the eight years that elapsed between the first signature and the final collapse suggest that there was both a desire and effort to preserve the Agreements.
A successful resolution to this conflict that establishes the framework for a sustainable and just peace in Ukraine will surely depend upon its design, its comprehensiveness, and its incentives. Most of all, it will require the ongoing commitment of all relevant actors to implement and evolve with it.
The second wrong lesson is that the past is prelude. We cannot let cynicism about the possibility of a just and lasting peace prevail. That would legitimise the pursuit of military victory at all costs. A point will come when the guns must be silenced. For us, that point is now. Today we meet to discuss the last unrealised attempt at peace amidst reports of an impending escalation.
Let us be clear–a fresh offensive will not make peace more attainable. It would only provoke a counter-offensive, and the wretched cycle of violence will go on. And so, once again we call for a cessation of hostilities and express our support for all earnest efforts to bring peace to Ukraine.
Today, more than 17.7 million Ukrainians require assistance. But even a year ago, 3.4 million people, the vast majority of whom were women and children, needed humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict. This misery cannot continue to drag on. Over the next week we will all reflect on the developments of the last twelve months, the costs of this war, and its implications for Ukraine, the region, and the world.
It is our sincere hope that this reflection fosters a renewed resolve for peace.
Thank you, Madam President.