UK Responds to OSCE Moldova Mission Head's April 2023 Report

Thank you Mr Chair, and thank you Ambassador Keiderling for your report to the Permanent Council. I join other speakers in thanking you and your team in Moldova for your efforts during a period of immense challenge.

Ambassador, let me start by reiterating the United Kingdom's unwavering support for the Mission and its mandate. The importance of the Mission's work, including monitoring of the Security Zone, cannot be overstated. We commend the Mission's efforts against your three goals: to prevent escalation, reverse the deterioration of relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol and find practical solutions to the challenges of everyday life for all citizens. We look forward to continuing our support under an extended mandate and call for early agreement on this.

Russia's unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine continues to impose serious, direct consequences on Moldova and the wider region. Moldova has displayed extraordinary courage in responding to the challenges posed by this illegal war and extraordinary compassion in welcoming almost one million Ukrainian refugees over the course of the conflict, of which more than 100,000 currently reside in the country.

Meanwhile, it is crucial that we do not lose sight of the needs of the Moldovan people and the government's reform agenda. As our Foreign Secretary stated during his visit to Chisinau in March, 'Moldova, you are not alone'.

Ambassador, the readiness of Chisinau and Tiraspol to continue to meet and negotiate continues to present grounds for cautious optimism. We commend you for facilitating this process, and encourage the Sides to continue discussions, with the shared understanding that all negotiations are designed to lead to the outcome foreseen and agreed by all OSCE participating States at successive Ministerial Councils: an outcome which respects Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, with a special status for Transnistria.

Starting from this position of shared understanding, the day to day needs of the populations on both sides of the Nistru can be effectively addressed. It is to this end that the UK encourages the parties to continue their efforts to deliver tangible outcomes for their populations. Furthermore, we welcome the progress made by the Mission's confidence building projects, which provide a valuable contribution to maintaining peace and stability for Moldova. We support your ongoing work to empower women's voices across Moldova through the Women, Peace and Security agenda and in combatting Gender Based Violence in all its forms. It is firmly our belief that progress against these goals forms the foundation of a sustainable settlement to the conflict.

We note with regret, the lack of progress in either removing potentially hazardous ammunition from Cobasna, nor the withdrawal of illegally deployed Russian forces stationed in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. In accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions, Russian troops situated on Moldovan sovereign territory without host nation consent, must leave. We reiterate our call on Russia to remove its forces without delay and urgently formulate a proposal for resumption of the process of removal and destruction of ammunition from the Cobasna site.

Ambassador Keiderling, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your leadership, and to reaffirm the UK's continued support to you and the Mission in fulfilling your mandate and to secure peace and stability for the Moldovan people.

Thank you.

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