UK Reacts to OSCE Chief's Moldova Mission Report, Nov 2023

Thank you, Chair. Ambassador Keiderling, welcome back to the Council and thank you for your report.

Let me state at the outset that the United Kingdom's resolute support for the OSCE Mission remains steadfast. The Mission's critical efforts to monitor the Security Zone, facilitate ongoing 1+1 meetings and ensure access to justice for victims of human rights abuses are instrumental to securing the foundations of a lasting peace. The importance of freedom of movement of Mission members in order to effectively deliver these crucial functions is therefore paramount and must be safeguarded.

We agree with your assessment that the importance of ongoing talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol is now greater than ever, and thank the Mission for its facilitation of the 1+1 meetings. The tenth edition of the annual Donors Forum, which brought together civil society representatives from both sides, speaks to the value of direct dialogue in preventing escalation, reversing the deterioration of relations between Tiraspol and Chisinau and laying the groundwork toward a negotiated settlement. We call on both sides to build on this positive momentum and redouble their efforts to find common ground on the many shared issues affecting peoples on both sides of the Nistru.

The UK's position is unchanged; we continue to support a peaceful, comprehensive and lasting settlement to the Transnistrian conflict on the basis of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognised borders, and with a special status for Transnistria. It is to this end that I reiterate our hope to see the Mission return to a 12-month mandate come December. A yearly mandate would grant the Mission the predictability, the certainty, and sustainability it needs to continue its good work and charter a course toward this objective amidst a challenging environment, made worse by Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Ambassador, we are grateful for your unflinching focus on human rights in the region and commend the Mission's efforts in promoting freedoms of media and expression, combatting human trafficking and addressing the scourge of gender-based violence. There is much still to be done however and we call on all member states to strengthen our commitment to the Mission to support it in fulfilling this crucial role.

Ambassador, at your last appearance at this Council in April, the UK reiterated our concern at the ongoing presence of Russian Forces on Moldovan sovereign territory, in contravention of international law. I repeat that concern today, noting that no progress has been made towards their immediate withdrawal. This too extends to the presence of hazardous material stored at Cobasna, where a considered and thorough proposal for the removal and demolition of the contents of the ammunition site must now be shared as a matter of urgency.

In closing, Ambassador, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and your team for your dedication to support peace and security on both banks of the Nistru. Thank you.

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