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Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Samuelsen in Milan, 6. December 2018

Mr. Chairperson,

Denmark is a firm believer in a rules-based international order. The OSCE – as a cornerstone of European security and our shared commitments and principles – is key to addressing the challenges we face in today’s world. Regrettably, our shared commitments and principles are being challenged, undermined and violated every day, including our fundamental freedoms, human rights and democratic values.

The Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine has entered its fifth year and the conflict remains a serious threat. Not only to the people of Ukraine, but to Europe and to international peace and security as a whole. Denmark is steadfast in our unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. We call on Russia to do the same. We condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea, which we will not recognize, and I join others in calling for full implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Russian aggression at the Kerch Strait once again underlines the severity of the conflict. International monitoring of the situation in the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea should be considered.

We remain firmly committed to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. We strongly condemn any action that puts its monitors and assets at risk. Free, safe and secure access for the SMM mission throughout Ukraine including the Crimean peninsula and along the entire Ukraine-Russian state boarder must be ensured.

The SMM plays a crucial role as the eyes and ears of the international community in reporting about the conflict. I am therefore pleased to announce that Denmark will give an extra-budgetary contribution of more than 550.000 euros to the SMM mission, in addition to our assessed contribution this year.

Ten years ago, the Russian military invaded Georgia. Let me take this opportunity to stress that Denmark stands firmly behind Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The 2008 cease-fire agreement must be respected.

Denmark is dedicated to promoting a world with more freedom and stronger democratic principles. This includes freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion or belief. We are extremely concerned that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is eroding and pressure on civil society and independent media is mounting in a number of OSCE countries. We are also concerned that women and girls are still denied equal rights and opportunities and that people are persecuted because of who they are or whom they love. The OSCE must maintain its high profile on protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We - the participating States - must all show political will and responsibility to strengthen our commitments. To this end, we will also continue our strong support for OSCE’s institutions, their mandates and their independence.

In conclusion, I thank the Italian Chairmanship-in-Office for its dedicated endeavours throughout 2018. We also look forward to closely cooperating with the incoming Slovak Chairmanship and wish you success for the coming year. Thank you.