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Foreign minister Urmas Paet at the UN Human Rights Council: the Ukraine crisis is a threat to international security and human rights


Today in Geneva at a high-level session of the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the critical situation in Ukraine is a threat to international security and the human rights situation. “The Russian army has invaded the Crimean peninsula – this is a case of aggression and a violation of international law,” he said. Russia must immediately stop the incursion against sovereign Ukraine and withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing,” he added.

Paet emphasized that sending troops into the sovereign territory of another country on the pretext of protecting its own citizens does not protect anyone. “Ukraine and all of the Ukrainian people, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political views are entitled to stability and peace,” Paet said. “In order to achieve this, dialogue and reforms are needed. In its determination, the Ukrainian nation has stepped up against corruption in order to achieve the rule of law and democratic governance,” Paet emphasized.

According to Estonia’s foreign minister, Ukraine needs international support – both against the incursion and in order to achieve stability. “The European Union, United States of America, NATO, the UN and the Council of Europe have unanimously condemned Russia’s violation of sovereign Ukraine,” he said. “It is very important to talk about it here, at the United Nations Human Rights Council as well, since the international community must do everything possible to assist Ukraine,” the Estonian foreign minister emphasized.

According to the foreign minister, the international community can support Ukraine via a number of concrete steps in order to ensure the country's territorial integrity, sovereignty and respect of human rights. “Firstly, ways must be found to end the aggression; secondly, international observers and mediators must be sent to Ukraine to help promote dialogue between Ukraine and Russia; and thirdly, in order to avoid Ukraine’s economic collapse, the terms for providing financial aid to Ukraine must be agreed upon,” Paet enumerated.

In his speech, the Estonian foreign minister also drew attention to problems of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in the world. “Governments, who are responsible for silencing the voices of their residents, need to recognize that sustainable development can only be based on freedom of expression and access to information,” he stressed. “For Estonia, respecting freedom of expression in today's digitalized world is equally important in both the conventional and virtual space,” he added.

Estonia is chairing the Internet Freedom Coalition this year. “Therefore, we are pleased to be hosting the international, high-level Freedom of the Internet Conference in Tallinn in the end of April,” Paet said. “We must look for the best ways to protect human rights in cyberspace. Free internet plays an important role, for example, in getting a true picture of both the Ukrainian and Syrian uprisings,” Paet said.

Estonia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council during the period 2013-2015.


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