The Secretary-General -- Opening Remarks at Press Encounter. Kyiv, 21 March 2014

Mar 21, 2014

Thank you very much Excellency,

I want to thank you for welcoming me to Kyiv on such short notice.

This is my second visit to Ukraine as Secretary-General. While I am pleased to be here, I come to Kyiv with a heavy heart.

These are some of the most dramatic and difficult times in the history of Ukraine.

Tensions are high.

Lives have been lost. I express my deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.

I am very seriously concerned at both the tense situation within parts of your country and between Ukraine and Russia.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations it is my responsibility and duty to do my utmost to promote international peace and security.

Yesterday, as you know, I was in Moscow where I met with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. I conveyed to him the same consistent messages I have been repeating since the beginning of the crisis.

This current crisis can only be resolved through peaceful diplomatic solutions based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and a determined statesmanlike pursuit of peace and security.

There has to be a real dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow.

As I also said in Moscow, at times like these it is vital that all parties refrain from any provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation. Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. Intimidation by radical elements has to be firmly prevented. I count on all parties in Ukraine to ensure that this is the case.

I conveyed to Acting President Turchynov my concerns but also said how encouraged I was to see signs of greater inclusion, especially the desire re-introduce Russian as one of Ukraine’s official languages.

Inclusiveness is critical to the restoration of stability to your country.

Earlier this morning, I met with the head of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission.

I am pleased that the team has deployed, including the east and south regions. I very much hope their mission will be supported by all.

In that regard, I was heartened to hear that my Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic has arrived in Crimea.

As I have said repeatedly, it is critical that the human rights of all people in Ukraine, especially minorities, be respected and protected.

I also told the Acting President that the United Nations stands ready to assist, along with other organizations, with the upcoming elections. Everything must be done to ensure that these elections are transparent, free and fair so that all Ukrainians accept the results.

During my stay, I will be meeting with the Prime Minister, the Acting Minister of Defence, Parliamentarians and representatives of civil society. I very much look forward to those discussions.

The world is watching and history will judge us on how we assume our responsibilities and our actions as they relate to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.

Excellency, please rest assured that I will do whatever I can to help restore good relations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation – two brotherly countries and two founding members of the United Nations.

Thank you for your attention, and I’ll be happy to take some questions.