peace outlook is bleak: OSCE official
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[November 20, 2014]
VIENNA (Reuters) - Prospects for
peace in eastern Ukraine are "bleak", underscoring the need to uphold a
shaky ceasefire between government forces and pro-Russian separatist
rebels, a senior official from the OSCE security watchdog said on
Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe's envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group that
includes senior representatives from Ukraine and Russia, said there
was no alternative to peace accords signed in Minsk in September, no
matter how dire the situation.
"Whatever (their) shortcomings may be and wherever they may need to
be supplemented, the (Minsk) documents are the door on the road to
peace in eastern Ukraine, and they will continue to be so," she told
a meeting of the 57-member OSCE in Vienna.
"I am unable to accept any remarks that the ceasefire arrangements
of Minsk have fallen apart. Yes, it has been broken many times but
it is the only agreement in place which has any restraining power on
the use of force."
Fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed an average of 13 people each
day in the eight weeks since the ceasefire agreement, U.N. High
Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on
Thursday. At least 4,317 people have been killed and 9,921 wounded
The OSCE's special monitoring mission (SMM) in eastern Ukraine said
military personnel shot in the direction of one its convoys near the
rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Wednesday. It did not say which side
was responsible for the firing, the first apparent instance of the
SMM being targeted.
Tagliavini said the situation had not improved since world leaders
met last weekend in Australia, where they threatened Russian
President Vladimir Putin with more sanctions. Fighting continues at
key locations including Donetsk airport and the outskirts of the
coastal city of Mariupol.
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She said the conflict could escalate, with severe consequences for
the region and beyond, if not handled with care. "The outlook is
still bleak," she added, citing reports of a new military buildup in
the conflict zone.
Ukraine has accused Russia of violating the Minsk accord by failing
to stop arms and fighters crossing into its territory, supplying the
separatists with weapons and keeping Russian forces in Ukraine.
Moscow denies these charges.
Russia is pressing Ukraine to hold direct talks with separatist
leaders, but Kiev is refusing, saying this would imply recognition
of 'people's republics' they have set up in eastern Ukraine. "We
will not hold direct talks with your mercenaries," Ukrainian Prime
Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Additional reporting by Richard
Balmforth and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev; Editing by Mark
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