Right of Reply to Russia on the Anniversary of the Astana Declaration: Statement to the PC

I regret having to invoke my right to reply, but I wanted to make a few points in response to the intervention by our distinguished Russian colleague.

First – and I say this out of regret more than anything else – I just think it’s really sad, I think the statement delivered by the Russian Federation was embarrassing. To say that the intervention of my delegation was “dangerous” or “an attempt to revise international law” is just silly. And I think you should transmit a message back to Moscow to say: “please don’t make us say such ridiculous things.”

Second, I’d just like to remind our distinguished Russian colleague that the origin of the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States that appears in the Helsinki Final Act was inspired in significant part by the presence of Soviet tanks on the streets of Prague seven years earlier. It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic, to hear the Russian Federation, which has attempted to annex part of its neighbor, and whose President admitted this morning to military activities that continue in a neighboring country, lecture the rest of us about interference in internal affairs.

Third point I’d like to make is just that, as a matter of fact, the distinguished ambassador of the Russian Federation said that my delegation has never raised concerns with the human rights situation in Ukraine, or in States of the European Union. If the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation can recall all the way back to last week, when we discussed the recent release of the latest report of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine, I urged, very clearly, the government of Ukraine to follow up on serious allegations of human rights abuses that were contained in that report. And I would note that the ambassador of Ukraine represented his government’s firm intention to carry out thorough investigations of such allegations. In addition, we have raised concerns with Hungary and Slovakia in recent sessions, and both of those States have responded with substantive responses explaining the situation. So it is simply untrue, what you have said in your statement. And I would like to ask the Council to recall those facts, because you have misrepresented them so grievously.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna