UK Responds to OSCE Report on National Minorities

Thank you, Madam Chair. High Commissioner, dear Kairat, welcome back to the Permanent Council. And thank you for your report today - your final one in this capacity.

The UK is a strong supporter of your mandate, and of your team's work in promoting human rights for all, specifically those belonging to national minorities across the OSCE region. This is a crucial aspect at all stages of the conflict cycle, from conflict prevention to peaceful resolution.

It is difficult to start my statement anywhere other than Ukraine. We welcome your ongoing prioritisation of this work. Civilians in Ukraine must be protected from Russia's ongoing aggression, including national minorities. As we know, minority rights formed a part of Russia's fabricated pretext for its illegal invasion; the fact that those same national minorities suffer so gravely at Russia's hands is an awful irony.

We reiterate the importance of your office's continued focus on the situation in the areas of Ukraine's sovereign territory temporarily under Russian control. In our statement to the Permanent Council last week we reported on Russia's systematic attempt to erase Ukrainian identity in these areas, including forced passportisation and the deportation of children. The deeply concerning situation in Crimea has been well documented by numerous independent organisations. Last month the European Court of Human Rights found Russia guilty of systemic violations of human rights in the territory, including widescale repression against Crimean Tatars.

We wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that respect for the fundamental norms and principles that our predecessors agreed half a century ago is critical to the future of the OSCE. It was in this spirit that leaders gathered in Switzerland last month to agree the path to a sustainable peace in Ukraine, based on the UN Charter. The quickest path to peace would be for President Putin to withdraw all Russian troops illegally present in Ukraine and end its aggression against its neighbour.

High Commissioner, we commend your work across the OSCE region - including in Georgia, Moldova, and Central Asia - where participating States have made use of legislation, education, language, and dialogue to improve cohesion and representation for different national minorities.

The UK greatly values your Office's work looking at the intersectionality of gender and national minorities. It is in all of our interests that we fully support women's full, equal and meaningful participation in all aspects of public life, including in peace and security. It is reassuring to know that your Office also recognises the value and importance of this. We would be in favour of further initiatives which promote gender mainstreaming, and look forward to reports of future progress in this important area.

High Commissioner, the UK is a strong supporter of your institution. We thank you - and your dedicated team - for all of your work during your tenure, and in particular your agreement at the end of last year to continue in the role at such short notice. We wish you well in whatever comes next. Thank you.

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