Continued emphasis on negotiation is needed in response to the tense situation between Ukraine and Russia, said Didier Burkhalter, President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, on Friday. At present the organisation has no proof that Russian troops have invaded Ukraine, he said.
The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has established a base in Mariupol and will expand its monitoring activities in the region in order to provide objective information about the situation, said Burkhalter, who is also the President and Foreign Minister of Switzerland.
“The OSCE and also Switzerland must always act in such a way that the possibility of easing tensions and de-escalation exists. That is our role. We’ll continue to pursue it,” Burkhalter said Friday in an interview with Swiss public television, SRF.
“A diplomatic solution has to be found,” he said. “A military solution would be a catastrophe.”
The OSCE will continue to assist Ukraine in efforts at de-escalating the situation and will continue to support, facilitate and promote dialogue on the international level, according to a press statement released by the OSCE late Friday.
Parliamentary reaction to Swiss course
In the Swiss capital, the head of the Swiss Senate’s foreign affairs committee, Felix Gutzwiler, told Swiss public television, SRF, that his committee had discussed the situation in detail in a meeting on Thursday.
The Cabinet’s decision to tighten sanctions against Russia was necessary in order to assure that Switzerland isn’t used to get around the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, said Gutzwiler.
“Now we have to wait and hope that Switzerland can make a difference in the crisis through its role at the head of the OSCE.”
Representative Luzi Stamm of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party stressed that in spite of the situation in Ukraine, Switzerland “clearly must remain neutral. . . . We can’t throw away 200 years of neutrality . . . .”
And Representative Carlo Sommaruga of the centre-left Social Democrats said: “We have to say clearly that violations of international law cannot continue.” Switzerland must demand that the parties go back to the table for discussion.
The EU leaders will speak about the situation in Ukraine – and the possibility of new sanctions – at their summit on Saturday in Brussels.