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Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Jan Lipavský at the Session of the UN General Assembly
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Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Jan Lipavský at the Session of the UN General Assembly


New York, February 23, 2023

Mr President,

We are meeting one year since the start of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine to yet again resolutely defend the UN Charter and promote international peace and security in line with the “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

We are horrified by Russia’s blatant violation of international order. The UN Charter is binding upon all Member States, including Russia.

Russia must immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

Czechia stands with Ukraine and remains committed to supporting Ukraine’s wish for a just peace in line with the UN Charter.

Russia’s aggression is causing unspeakable suffering in Ukraine and beyond. It has sent a shockwave into the world food and commodity markets and is threatening to drive 50 million people on the edge of famine across Africa and other continents.

We support the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the UN efforts to achieve its further extension in March 2023. We cherish UN actions which address wider consequences of the Russia-inflicted war, including global food insecurity.

We commend the Secretary-General for his relentless efforts to stop Russia’s aggression and restore respect for the UN Charter.

We appreciate the Peace Formula presented by President Zelensky.

Let me be clear: Russia’s malicious ambition goes far beyond Ukraine. It wants to change the international order. Russia wants a world defined by spheres of influence, with neocolonial relationships instead of partnerships on equal footing.

Our region - Central Europe - has had its own tragic experience with Russia’s aggressive imperial policy. For the sake of restoring international peace and security, it is essential to say “no” to Russia’s imperialist scheme.

All of us should beware that any country can be the next Russia’s victim. The future of the international order is being determined now. Ukraine is not only defending itself and its people, it is also defending the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.

Efforts to legitimize the use of force for achieving geo-political goals and normalize practices such as food supplies blackmail or nuclear saber-rattling must be decisively rejected.

Russia’s massive airstrikes, deliberately conducted in densely populated areas, are destroying civilian infrastructure and innocent lives. The findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry are shocking – documenting sexual violence and torture used as Russia’s tactic of war.

We are gravely concerned about the continued attacks of the Russian armed forces around Ukrainian nuclear sites and the illegal seizure of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Full accountability for war crimes and all other crimes in connection with Russia’s war must be ensured, including accountability for the crime of aggression. Letting the leadership, responsible for the crime of aggression, go unpunished would mean giving up on the fight against impunity and fuelling aggression.

I am a strong proponent of creating a special tribunal for the crime of aggression in Ukraine, even though it is a complex task. I strongly believe that there should also be a UN involvement to ensure maximum legitimacy and support.

The humanitarian toll of the war is heartbreaking. Russia’s barbaric full-scale war brings back horrors of the Second World War.

Entire towns and villages have been damaged. Critical civilian infrastructure deliberately destroyed. In the middle of this savage winter, people are trying to escape from Russian bombs and survive in temporary shelters.

The war has forced over 8 million Ukrainians to flee abroad. In the spirit of solidarity, the Czech Republic has opened its doors. Almost half a million of them have been granted temporary protection, most of them women and children.

We remain the country hosting the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita. Even though it brings some challenges for the state and our citizens, especially at the time of economic and energy crises, our country and people have demonstrated an unprecedented wave of solidarity.

We have also provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine through in-kind and material support so that people affected by the war in freezing temperatures have access to healthcare, drinking water, electricity and heating. Here, I would like to stress that our assistance to Ukraine does not affect our humanitarian aid, nor budget when helping other countries in need.

Mr President,

My country strongly supports the draft resolution put to our consideration. It defends the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States. I would like to appeal to all those who might be tempted today to take a “neutral” stance and to those who believe that it is not “their” war: if we don’t act now, we are accepting a new international order based on use of brutal force, based on colonialism.

I thank you.