Mr. /Madam President, dear colleagues,

In the presence of relatives of the victims of the downing of flight MH17, let me start by expressing my sincerest condolences. I am deeply saddened by the fact that 8 years after this horrendous tragedy, you have still not been able to have closure. The investigation has dragged on as a result of Russia’s failure to cooperate in good faith with the Joint Investigation Team. The case is a horrific example of what can happen on the sidelines of conflict.

Flying is one of the safest modes of transport. Of course, as with any vehicle there is always a tiny risk of something going wrong but being downed by a missile fired from the ground should not be one of them. It is completely unacceptable. It takes the Geneva conventions of keeping civilians outside of conflict to a whole new level. There was zero possibility for anyone onboard the plane to anticipate such a scenario, let alone protect themselves. Missiles are not toys that you can point at any moving objects. They are weapons of warfare. This was a cowardice, heinous crime and those responsible must be punished.

There are internationally recognized procedures in place for investigating airline accidents or emergencies, be it large or small. Based on what I have read we have a clear picture of what happened. Russia’s responsibility is unquestionable. The Buk missile did not fall from the sky in the hands of the separatists. Although Russia did not commit this heinous crime, they have a responsibility to do what it takes to help the investigation move forward so that accountability is ensured.

Instead, Russia failed to take responsibility, fabricated evidence and misled the investigation. All this at the expense of the victims’ next of kin. The least we can expect is a public apology by Russia. I fully agree with the recommendations in the report and hope that one day soon we can close this case, punish those responsible and allow for the families of the victims to move on. Actually, swift investigation and resolution of crimes committed in any conflict and war situations are crucial for reconciliation and closure. I sincerely hope that we will never have to deal with such a case again.

Thank you.