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Russian official: Donbass security is impossible without political settlement

March 23, 2016, 20:00 UTC+3 MINSK

The need to ensure security can hardly justify a delay in holding elections in Ukraine's Donbass

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Boris Gryzlov

Boris Gryzlov

© ITAR-TASS/Alexey Nikolsky

MINSK, March 23 /TASS/. Boris Gryzlov, Russia’s representative in the trilateral Contact Group for settlement in eastern Ukraine, believes that the need to ensure security can hardly justify a delay in holding the Donbass elections.

"Today everybody agrees that the settlement of the Ukraine conflict should be based on the Minsk agreements. It is fundamentally important that a package of measures [to implement the September 2014 Minsk agreements] which was approved by the ‘Normandy format’ leaders be implemented in full measure with due consideration for all the points," Gryzlov told journalists after the Contact Group’s meeting in Minsk.

According to him, it is impossible to pretend that some provisions of the package of measures [also known as Minsk-2] should be implemented completely by ‘one hundred percent’, so to speak, while others should remain practically non-existent.

"The Minsk agreements clearly point to the need of constitutional changes with decentralization being the key element; permanent legislation on the special status of separate districts of the Donbass region; amnesty supported by a law banning the persecution of participants in the Donbass events. Under the Minsk agreements, this should be the basis for resolving other problems envisaged by the package of measures," Gryzlov said adding that no one was trying to belittle the security factor.

"Nevertheless, practice shows that it is impossible to guarantee security without a political settlement. By the way, everybody agrees with it if Syria is in question. There should be no double standards in this case. As for Ukraine, it is ready to hold the elections exclusively in ‘paradisal’ conditions, and that can deadlock the whole process," the Russian representative in the Contact Group stressed.

"Indeed, the urgent need to ensure security and guarantee full ceasefire cannot justify a delay of the Donbass elections and consequently of the political settlement for 3, 5 or 10 years. On the contrary, if we embark of the path of postponing the political settlement, the situation may indeed get worse," Gryzlov stressed.

"Therefore, I am convinced that today it is important to start dealing directly with the political settlement. Compromises are realistic: there is an agreement on using ‘the Steinmeier formula’ , which suggests that the law on the special status of local self-government will become fully functional after the OSCE Office for Democracy and Human Rights publishes a report on monitoring the elections. And here, I can only agree with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault: there are real opportunities to solve problems linked to the election legislation and hold the elections as early as the first half of 2016," Gryzlov concluded.

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