Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (54)

Eric J. Byrne


54. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the rapidly moving developments in the Ukraine and the commitment of the OSCE to engage in both an observatory capacity and an election monitoring capacity and in view of the fact that the Tánaiste as a former chairman-in-office of the OSCE, the reason his Department is sending one long-term observer to Ukraine for the forthcoming presidential elections; if he will reconsider this position as the monitoring of these elections will probably constitute the most important and difficult election monitored by the OSCE to date and in view of the tremendous historical importance of the outcome to that election, proper oversight of this election will be vitally important; if he will confirm his intention to send a substantial delegation of short-term observers to monitor this election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12090/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Government has condemned the unprovoked violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Russian Federation. We have participated actively in the development of a strong EU response to Russia’s military mobilisation while commending the measured response shown so far by the new Ukrainian government. In relation to the Presidential election scheduled for May, the OSCE on 3 March issued a call to participating states for the nomination of Long Term Observers for the planned observation mission. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of individuals who are available to participate at short notice in election observation missions organised in the main by the OSCE and the EU. Notification was issued to all roster members last week inviting applications for the observer position. We aim to respond each year to as many of the requests as possible by the OSCE and the EU for election observers. To date in 2014, we have put forward nominations to serve in six missions advertised by the EU and OSCE, and we expect requests for participation in at least 11 further missions during the year.

In recognising the vital importance of the Ukrainian election observation mission, we have decided to put forward a Long Term Observer nomination. Long Term Observers will be required for up to 90 days, which is longer than for most missions of this type. All of the costs associated with OSCE missions are borne by individual member states. While no formal call has yet issued from the OSCE for Short Term Observers, I can confirm that we would hope to be in a position to nominate a substantial number of members of the roster, if requested.

In addition, an Irish officer is also participating in the OSCE observer mission to Ukraine which arrived in Odessa on 5 March. This is a short term mission of one week’s duration during which observers intend to visit Crimea and form an impression of the military situation on the ground. The mission consists of some 47 military officers drawn from 25 OSCE Participating States. The basis for the mission is an invitation from the Ukrainian Government under OSCE procedures.

Discussions have also been taking place in Vienna at the OSCE Permanent Council on the possibility of establishing a long term presence in Ukraine. This would be a classic OSCE field presence, similar to those in Moldova or Albania. This mission would have at least 100 personnel and would be in place for a minimum of six months. If consensus is reached on the establishment of this presence, Ireland will endeavour to contribute personnel to the mission.