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Lavrov: Normandy Four prepare concrete security proposals for Ukraine Contact Group
The Normandy Four foreign ministers have prepared concrete security proposals for the Contact Group on settlement in east Ukraine, Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrov said after the meeting with his counterparts from Ukraine, Germany and France. In particular, they agree that the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Ukraine (JCCC) should join the work.
"We have an entire package of agreements concerning the provision of security, the observation of the ceasefire regime; weapons' withdrawal and ways of increasing control over how these weapons is being stored at depots so that it does not disappear from there. We asked the Contact Group in the first place to tackle all those issues because, let me remind you, one of the Normandy format functions is to exercise control over how the Contact Group is discussing and resolving the tasks assigned by the Minsk agreements," the Russian foreign minister said.
Along with this, Lavrov said that "all members of the Normandy Four format advocate implementation of the Minsk agreements."
According to the Russian minister, security at Donbass elections can be ensured without introducing an additional armed mission. The diplomat pointed out that Germany and France agreed with Russia that elections in Donbass should not be delayed due to security issues.
"Ukraine wants some kind of a militarized mission, says without it there will be no free campaigning before elections," Lavrov said. "However, I think this is an artificial campaign. [Local election] may be held without any militarized structure," he added.
The foreign minister confirmed that observes from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be invited to monitor Donbass elections. "This is a part of the Minsk Agreements. It was also confirmed by both Donetsk and Lugansk. It is the most important thing now to directly coordinate all issues connected with elections in the Contact Group and its political subgroup," he said.
"We [Russia] is not a party in the conflict. Thorough the Normandy process, through the Minsk Contact Group, we are trying to help Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk to search for an agreement because that is precisely what the Minsk accords demand," Lavrov noted.
He expressed regret that Ukraine does not yet want to enter direct dialogue. "Our Ukrainian colleagues are trying to take many issues out of the framework of the Contact Group while it is the only structure where Ukrainian leadership is represented along with Donetsk and Lugansk. This is where they should negotiate," the foreign minister said.
"Our ideas about elections and constitutional reform, amnesty, special status of Donbass are our contribution to the process that should continue directly between the sides in the conflict," Lavrov concluded.
"We also filed a requested for [Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo] Klimkin, asking the Ukrainian side not to avoid prescribed commitments," Lavrov said. "On our side, we will exert our influence on Donetsk and Lugansk so that they will be responsible for the undertaken commitments."
"So my conclusion is the Ukrainian side periodically steps forward with new pretexts in order to delay implementation of agreements on coordination of the entire package of political aspects of settlement," he said.
According to Lavrov, there's no move ahead in respect to political issues in Donbass.
The diplomat also said that the date of Donbass elections depends on resolution of political issues in the Contact Group.
Political settlement impossible without holding amnesty
Lavrov stressed that no political settlement in Ukraine is possible without ensuring national reconciliation through amnesty.
"It is impossible to hold election and settle the conflict without ensuring national reconciliation through amnesty," Lavrov said. "In accordance with the Minsk Agreements, all these problems should be resolved in direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass - Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk," he added.
"All these aspects - the elections, the status, the constitutional reform and amnesty are interconnected," the minister said. "We are convinced that it will be practically impossible to hold elections until this package is agreed and approved, and it should be approved by the Verkhovna Rada, of course," Lavrov said.
Economic issues in Donbass remain unsolved
The foreign ministers of the Normandy Four have also agreed the economic issues in Ukraine's south-eastern Donbass region remain unsolved.
"We touched upon the issue of economic blockade of Donbass, the unsettled issues of social payments, pensions, allowances, the unsolved problem of provision of banking services in these areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions," Lavrov said.
No joint statement planned
A spokesperson for German Foreign Ministry told reporters on Wednesday that there would be no joint statement after the meeting of the Normandy Four foreign ministers in Berlin.
"No joint statement is planned," the spokesperson said.
The meeting of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) at the level of foreign ministers has just finished in Berlin. The meeting started at around 1pm Moscow time and continued for three hours.
[Source: Itar Tass, Berlin, 11May16]
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