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I would like to underline what our chair has said with regard to Miroslav Lajčák, whom we welcome here today. He is a bridge between the organizations with his previous and present functions at the UN and the OSCE in view of functioning multilateralism. You will have our full support. Also in your briefing, you said one sentence which we believe is absolutely crucial. You said that this briefing today will not change anything. It is crucial that our words today are followed by actions. In this spirit, coming back to the most important area of action: Ukraine. Humanitarian action in the occupied areas of Ukraine and the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska. My question to you would be: is there a chance for a roadmap that we will be able to not only talk about it, but actually get this bridge repaired, which tens of thousands of people have to cross every day?
Together with France in the Normandy Format and Russia and Ukraine, Germany will continue to drive the process forward, with Minsk as the basis. I also want to pay tribute to the important work of the Special Monitoring Mission. Under very difficult circumstances, these people do a tremendous job. It was about two years ago that one member of the SMM lost his life because his car ran over a mine in the area that is not controlled by the government. The OSCE continues to work very well. Our Russian colleague just said that the OSCE should step up the monitoring, but unfortunately they are very often prevented from doing so. Last month, the OSCE sent out the last report about the restrictions of SMM that went to all OSCE member states. I would like to quote one sentence out of this report. It says that in the latter half of 2018, the number of restrictions of the special monitoring mission of freedom rose. The mission encountered 720 restrictions: a more than 60 percent increase compared to the previous six months. The majority of all restrictions were denial of access. Similar to the first half of 2018, the majority occurred in the areas not under government control. 75 percent in the area that is occupied and under Russian influence. At the same time, the report mentions a number of drones that have been lost – again the majority over non-government controlled areas.
Many have mentioned the most recent violations of international law in the Sea of Asov; the release of the Ukrainian personnel has still not happened. As our Russian colleague mentioned, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should cover the whole of Ukrainian territory. Have you thought that the OSCE could also use a ship in the territorial waters of Ukraine to better control also the area?
With regard to Transnistria, we welcome that there has been concrete progress since the Berlin protocol in 2016. I would like to pick up what my American colleague earlier said: do you see a chance now that we can also make progress on the implementation of the OSCE in Transnistria? Istanbul’s commitment with regard to the withdrawal of troops that are not legally there? On Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, I would also like support your activities there. Chancellor Merkel just met with the Prime Minister of Armenia and encouraged him to use his broad mandate to constructively engage in the peace process, so the Minsk Group of the OSCE is in the lead. With regard to international women’s day, you highlighted among other things that you want to also implement the women, peace and security agenda. Do you have concrete plans to have the sub quotas in the SSM in Ukraine, in some of the mediation talks, the Minsk group, or the 5+2 talks? And when you push more on the trilateral contact group in Kiev, could you try to promote women’s participation? Thank you very much.