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OSCE hails weapons withdrawal agreement as path to peace in Donbass
OSCE hails the agreement between Kiev and self-proclaimed republics of Donbass on withdrawal of weapons as a path to peace, OSCE's Chairperson-in-Office and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said commenting on the agreement on withdrawal from the front line of weapons of calibre under 100mm, which the parties signed on Tuesday.
He said the agreements proved the parties are ready to continue the peaceful settlement process, which is the only way to achieve the goal of gaining peace. It is time to improve trust and to speed up implementation of the measures on political, economic and humanitarian settlement of the situation.
OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission will follow up implementation of the agreement, he said, thus it would be most important the observers have access to all regions and their safety is provided accordingly.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Trilateral Contact Group initialled a document envisaging withdrawal of weapons under 100mm calibre to a distance of 15 kilometres for the line of engagement. The first stage would begin in two days, OSCE's (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Special Representative in Ukraine Martin Sajdik said, adding that first tanks would be pulled back, then artillery and then mortars. The first stage of 15 days will be followed by a 24-day second stage.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.
The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people's militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
On July 18, the Donetsk and Luhansk republics announced their plans to unilaterally withdraw tanks and armoured vehicles with a calibre of less than 100mm to a distance of at least three kilometres away from the line of military engagement.
The Donetsk republic said at the end of July it had pulled back weapons under 100mm calibre from the contact line, leaving tanks only in "hot spots" to the north of Donetsk and in Debaltsevo. The Lugansk republic said it had also completed the withdrawal of weapons from the contact line, leaving tanks and armoured vehicles only on positions near the Schastye settlement.
The republics' self-defence forces also expressed their readiness to pull back weapons from "hot spots" if Kiev took a similar action.
[Source: Itar Tass, Vienna, 30Sep15]
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