Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement at the Federal Foreign Office today (3 May) on the release of the OSCE inspectors:
I am pleased and very relieved to be able to inform you that all the OSCE inspectors, including the four Germans, who were detained by separatists in Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine eight days ago have been released.
The team of inspectors is now being looked after by our support team led by the Federal Foreign Office’s Crisis Management Commissioner.
I am particularly pleased that we were able to secure the release of the entire team, including the Ukrainian officers. First impressions suggest that they are in as good shape as can be expected under the circumstances.
The negotiations on the release of the OSCE inspectors were difficult and several times it looked like they might end in failure.
The happy end to the hostage-taking is the result of persistent, dedicated diplomacy by a great many people and it is therefore very important to me to sincerely thank all of those who helped to bring this about:
First of all the OSCE negotiation team in Donetsk, headed by Mark Etherington, which showed great skill and courage in dealing with the separatists, then the OSCE, under the leadership of Didier Burkhalter, with whom we coordinated very closely on a daily basis, and last but not least the German support team in Donetsk and the crisis unit here in the Federal Foreign Office which have literally been working day and night for over a week.
The great personal efforts made by Vladimir Lukin and in recent days Russia’s helpful contribution, alongside the cooperation with the Ukrainian leadership and authorities on the ground, were vital to the positive result achieved today. I also want to express my gratitude for this.
The positive outcome for the team of inspectors means we can finally breathe a sigh of relief, but our work is not yet over. We are far from reaching an end to the crisis in Ukraine. Quite the contrary, the situation continues to escalate, especially with regard to yesterday’s events, with regard to the outbreaks of violence in Odessa and in other cities in eastern and southern Ukraine, where demonstrators attacked each other unchecked, where public buildings continue to be occupied, where murder and manslaughter has been committed.
I hope that for all concerned yesterday’s tragedy in Odessa that left over 40 people dead will be a wake‑up call and remind everyone that violence only provokes counter-violence.
If this latest spiral of violence is not stopped, there may come a moment when unchecked violence will have free rein.
So I appeal to all political leaders to stop fanning the flames further, end belligerent rhetoric and resume the quest for a political solution to the Ukraine conflict.