Sunrise, Kyiv: interview with David Koch

  • Transcript, E&OE

JOURNALIST Well in Ukraine the country's parliament has formally approved Australian and Dutch officials taking the lead in the investigation at the crash site. Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins me now live from Kyiv. Foreign Minister good morning to you. As a result of your lobbying there was overwhelming support for the move, how do you feel?

JULIE BISHOP Well, Kochie, good morning, but it wasn't something I was going to take for granted. I'm a parliamentarian and I know you just can't take a vote for granted so over the last few days I've been meeting with the leaders of the political parties to urge them to vote to support our resolution so that we can carry out our mission here. And no one could guarantee that we would be able to get to a simple majority of 226 votes. So I went along to the Parliament today, called the Rada, and I can't tell you how relieved I was to see 324 hands go up and they applauded. So I just felt so relieved for the families of those killed on MH17.

JOURNALIST Now the vote allows our officers to carry weapons at the crash site. Just how dangerous is it there?

JULIE BISHOP We won't be carrying weapons at the crash site. It will be an unarmed police mission. It's just a contingency, like an insurance policy, contained in an agreement that covers the conditions under which we can operate. So it allows us to bring in all the equipment that we need and all the personnel we need to carry out this mission of retrieving the bodies and remains and collecting the evidence for the crash site investigation. It allows us to bring in our sniffer dogs, for example, so we won't be armed but there is provision in the agreement should that be necessary. I don't envisage that it will be.

JOURNALIST OK. A couple of our investigators and their Dutch colleagues finally accessed the scene today. Have you had reports back from them?

JULIE BISHOP I certainly have. In fact, while I was at the Parliament waiting for the vote, they had set out from our base in Donetsk and were making the trip from the base through Ukraine-held territory into no man's land, as they call it, and then into the separatist-held territory. And they had to go through checkpoints all the way. And the two guys on board, our two Aussies, were sending texts back as they reached each milestone and back in Kyiv our team were so excited when they'd say, 'ok, we've reached the last checkpoint'. And when we finally heard that they were on the site and about to start work, we were all so relieved for the families. But also knowing that this was the beginning of the hard work they had to do to scour the site, and we know there are bodies and remains on the site, and to collect the wreckage for the investigation so that we can hold those responsible for this shocking act accountable.

JOURNALIST Your sense of the region. Do you fear for the region? You've eyeballed the Russians, you've eyeballed the Ukrainians, you know what the rebels are like. Is there a fear that this is going to escalate out of control?

JULIE BISHOP What has amazed me is the resilience of the Ukrainian people, determined to resist Russian aggression. And there is no doubt that Russia is behind the separatists. They are well armed. They are very professional. They are well trained. They have the most sophisticated military equipment, heavy equipment and weaponry including missiles and rockets. And the Ukrainian people here in Kyiv are going to resist that Russian incursion into their territory. The issue of sovereignty is so very powerful here and being in the Parliament today when 324 people voted in support of our mission effectively and the government only has about 237 seats in the Parliament, so many people from the opposition and the non-aligned parties supported what we were seeking to do. And so there is very strong feeling here. I believe that Russia will have to reconsider its position. I think that this terrible tragedy has actually changed the dynamics between Ukraine and Russia; an extraordinary and cruel stroke of fate has actually been a game changer.

JOURNALIST Well, let's keep our fingers crossed. Julie Bishop an extraordinary job. Thanks for joining us this morning.

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