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Russia has proposals for Normandy Four meeting - Russian diplomat

May 08, 20:27 UTC+3
"We are going there to prepare a productive meeting of the ministers on May 11", said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin

© TASS Archive/EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON

MOSCOW, May 8. /TASS/. The key task of the forthcoming talks between the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) foreign ministers due to take place in Berlin on May 11 is to prompt Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk swiftly implement their liabilities. Russia will come up with a number of initiatives of how to achieve this goal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Sunday.

"The agenda is obvious," he said. "I’d refrain from repeating the provisions of the Minsk agreements but would like to focus on the most important task - to speed up the implementation of all liabilities undertaken by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. We have certain proposals for that, at least."

"We have prepared a set of proposals that will be considered at a ministerial meeting," the Russian diplomat said. "We hope that our partners in the Normandy Four format will be as constructive as the Russian side in what concerns giving an impetus to the implementation of the agreements."

The work on Ukrainian settlement will start in Berlin on May 10 when deputy foreign ministers will meet ahead of the ministerial meeting. "On May 10, a Normandy Four-format meeting at the level of deputy foreign ministers will be held in Berlin," Karasin said. "We are going there to prepare a productive meeting of the ministers on May 11".

There will be no taboo topics at Normandy Four ministerial talks in Berlin

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also said, that there will be no taboo topics at a meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Four countries, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, due to take place in Berlin on May 11.

"I don’t think there will be any taboo topics. The ministers will discuss everything they might think necessary to discuss," he said when asked whether the ministers will discuss Ukraine’s initiative to arm the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Donbass.

"We believe it is necessary to push the settlement of political issues, first of all, holding of elections, adoption of necessary decisions on the special status for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and amnesty, without which elections look at least strange," the Russian diplomat noted. "This will be the topic of the talks," he stressed.

On April 24, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for deploying an OSCE police mission equipped with heavy weapons in the Donbass region. He noted that representatives of the current OSCE mission are not always able to register which side the shelling came from. According to the president, the tasks of the new armed mission should be "to effectively monitor the line of engagement," the construction of checkpoints in the areas where the withdrawn weapons are stored and along the sections of the Ukrainian-Russian border uncontrolled by Kiev.

On April 27, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said that the possibility of deploying a police mission in Donbass has not been looked at within the organization. Moreover, the OSCE has no experience in organizing such missions, he added.

Kiev’s attempts to postpone settlement in Donbass until lasting ceasefire non-serious

Grigory Karasin also told TASS, that Kiev’s attempts to postpone discussion of political settlement in Donbass till the establishment of a lasting ceasefire regime are not serious.

"All of Kiev’s excuses that political issues cannot be discussed until a lasting ceasefire regime is established are not serious," he said. "The more so as the agreements on so-called Easter and ‘holiday’ ceasefire are being observed."

"There will be a serious conversation about that. I think time is ripe to get this process moving, despite Kiev’s non-constructive position," Karasin said.

Ukraine’s representatives, including President Petro Poroshenko, have repeatedly said that local elections in Donbass will be possible only after all-round security is ensured. Interpretation of this term vary in the Kiev authorities’ statements but the establishment of a lasting ceasefire regime is central to their demands.

Russia believes elections in Donbass may be held in June-July

Russia believes that it is possible to hold elections in Donbass in June-July 2016, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. 

"We believe in this possibility," he said, when asked to comment on the prospects of holding local elections in Donbass in these timeframes.

When asked about concrete proposals of the Normandy Four countries (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) on the date for elections in Donbass, the Russian diplomat said that appointment of a concrete date is a matter of details. "Elections may be held in July, even in June," he said, commenting on leaks from the sources that Germany’s and France’s negotiators are expected to once again come out with an initiative to organize voting in the above period. "This is not what matters most. The most important thing is to agree principles and observe these principles," he stressed.

Local elections in Donbass is one of the key provisions of the Package of Measures on the implementation of the Minsk agreements that was signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12 after marathon talks between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, the so-called Normandy Four format.

Apart from that, the 13-point Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements, known as Minsk-2, in particular included an agreement on cessation of fire from February 15, withdrawal of heavy armaments, prisoner exchange in the all-for-all format, as well as measures on long-term political settlement of the situation in Ukraine, including establishment of working subgroups as priority tasks.

Under the Minsk package, local elections in Donbass were to be held back in 2015, along with a constitutional reform to grant a special status to certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

However these elections have been postponed more than once due to Kiev’s reluctance to fulfil its liabilities, in particular to grant amnesty to all participants in the developments in Donbass, to pass laws on the special status and on elections.

At a previous meeting in the Normandy Four deputy foreign ministers in Paris on March 3, Germany and France came out with an initiative to organize internationally-monitored local elections in Donbass under the OSCE standards before the end of June. However Ukraine blocked this initiative, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting.

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