OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Edi Rama, on Tuesday concluded a two-day visit to Ukraine, during which he called for strengthened efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in and around Ukraine, which he cited as the most pressing challenge to the security and stability in Europe today.

"Contributing to a peaceful resolution is an utmost priority of the Albanian OSCE Chairmanship in 2020. That is why I wanted to start my official visits with Ukraine, within my first month in the role," he said, the OSCE said in a press release.

In Kyiv, on January 20, the Chairperson-in-Office met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko and Speaker of Parliament Dmytro Razumkov.

Rama welcomed the decisive action undertaken by the Ukrainian leadership towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict. He committed to actively strive to ensure respect for OSCE principles and commitments and full implementation of the Minsk agreements by the sides.

"Despite successive recommitments to the ceasefire, there are still frequent civilian casualties. This must stop. Our aim – first and foremost - must be to ensure a full and sustainable ceasefire. In 2020, we will endeavour to improve the security situation and the daily lives of the people living in conflict-affected areas," he added.

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After meetings in Kyiv, the Chairperson-in-Office visited eastern Ukraine on January 21, to gain first-hand experience of the security and humanitarian situation in the conflict-affected areas, and to observe the practical impact of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) on the ground.

Visiting the repaired and reopened bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, Rama called it "an excellent illustration of what political goodwill can achieve, and how improved security and the easing of people's hardship go hand in hand." Chairperson Rama added that "making a difference on the ground" will be a priority of the Albanian Chairmanship. "The SMM is also a standout example of how a difference is made, with hard work, day after day, by dedicated staff. We do not forget for an instant that the SMM staff are deployed in a volatile and unpredictable environment. We will, therefore, work to encourage safer and more secure access for the Mission throughout Ukraine," he said.

Rama also expressed strong support to the efforts of the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG).

"The resumption of dialogue and the outcomes of the Normandy summit are steps in the right direction. Nevertheless, there is much more to be done. It is a long road ahead to lasting peace. My Special Representative in Ukraine and in the TCG, Ambassador Heidi Grau, will be exploring how best to move the process forward," he said.