Statement by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko

    Belarus welcomes the ceasefire protocol signed by the contact group "Ukraine-Russia-OSCE" on 5 September 2014. The long-awaited news gives us hope, albeit fragile, for the lasting peace in the region.

    The conflict in the brotherly Slavic state has been recently the most alarming and much discussed issue on the international agenda. Not only regional but also global security came under threat. It is no exaggeration to say that the war started to loom on the horizon in our common European home.

    We should give credit to the initiatives and proposals of, first of all, the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia. Their fundamental highest-level agreements reached on the Belarusian land in late August laid a foundation for the peace process. Dialogue in the format "Customs Union-Ukraine-European Union" allowed engaging in the negotiations the parties who were genuinely interested in peace in Ukraine and in Europe. Concrete proposals of the President of Kazakhstan to resolve the conflict were very important and timely. Certainly, without the persistent efforts of the leaders of the leading states of the European Union, the ceasefire in the eastern regions of Ukraine would have been impossible to achieve.

    No doubt, the contact group "Ukraine-Russia-OSCE" consisting of Leonid Kuchma, Mikhail Zurabov and representatives of the southeast of Ukraine and the OSCE played an extremely important role. The group did a truly herculean job and reached agreement on the matters which seemed absolutely impossible to solve some time ago. The work of the contact group deserves genuine praise.

    This, by the way, is one of the few occasions when the OSCE has played exactly the role for which it was created, and has made a concrete contribution to the regional peace and security.

    We are proud that the peace process was launched in Minsk, on the Belarusian land. We will continue to make every effort for the sake of peace in our sister country. Our peoples have suffered enough in the wars of the last century, and we do not want to see such suffering happening again, this century.

    The news of the ceasefire arrangements was welcomed with joy and hope everywhere. But we should clearly understand that this is only the first step of a long and difficult journey. We will need to overcome a lot of unexpected thingsand obstacles to make sure the Minsk peace process should become irreversible and irrevocable.

    I am convinced that the work of the contact group should continue. Perhaps it makes sense to give it more powers and raise its level for the successful implementation of all agreements reached.

    Now all the parties concerned need to stop and think. Think about the future of the country and the people. It is peaceful and constructive work, not the destructive war that will ensure the well-being of the state and ordinary people.

    The fratricidal conflict in our sister nation will leave severe scars in the heart of the Ukrainian nation. But it will be gradually forgotten. People will remember those who managed to turn the wheel of war towards peace!

    Aleksandr Lukashenko