Heidi Tagliavini, Switzerland’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) considers the ceasefire in Ukraine to be a great achievement despite setbacks.
Speaking at an event organised by the Eastern Europe Forum of the University of Basel on Monday, she said that maintaining the ceasefire agreement must be “absolute priority”. She said that the area covered by the agreement is equivalent to half the size of Switzerland.
However, Tagliavini acknowledged that while the ceasefire was respected in most places, there were some strategic locations where it was not respected, a situation she described as “terrible”.
She said Ukraine had survived a “hot summer”, taking into account the risk of escalation in tensions. Incidents like the Malaysian Airlines plane crash did not help, she added.
Despite these setbacks, she remains confident. According to her, Kiev and Moscow initiated the negotiations in Minsk with the clear intention of obtaining a ceasefire and starting a peace process.
“It is a step forward,” she said, even if everything could suddenly change.
She also described the Swiss chairmanship of the OSCE at this time of conflict as a fortunate coincidence, given the country’s reputation for neutrality.
The assumption of the OSCE chair from next year by Serbia, a traditional ally of Russia, will not affect the role of the OSCE as a mediator, Tagliavini believed. She pointed out that Switzerland and Serbia had cooperated in the past and there was no reason why that would not be the case in the future, she said.
Tagliavini played a major role in the negotiations concerning a ceasefire agreement involving representatives of Ukraine, Russia, separatists and the OSCE in Minsk in September. She described her current role at the OSCE as the most challenging of her diplomatic career.
swissinfo.ch and agencies