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Lavrov arrives in Berlin to take part in Normandy Four meeting

May 11, 11:50 UTC+3 BERLIN
The participants in the meeting will "continue a substantive dialogue on all aspects of the intra-Ukrainian settlement, especially with regard to the obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© EPA/KATIA CHRISTODOULOU

BERLIN, May 11. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Berlin to take part in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the "Normandy Four" (Russia, Germany, Ukraine, France).

The ministers will discuss later in the day the settlement in the Donbass region on the basis of the Minsk agreements. They are expected to pay special attention to the security situation and the organization of local elections.

The peaceful settlement has again come to a halt of late. The ceasefire regime in Donbass has become "more fragile," and the number of violations and casualties has increased, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.The Minsk peace deal implementation has been also affected by the political crisis in Ukraine that had paralyzed power bodies in the country for two months and ended only in mid-April.

Ahead of the meeting, Moscow called the situation with the Minsk-2 implementation "deplorable." But the Kremlin said "the Normandy process is now the main basis for searching how to resolve the crisis in Ukraine."

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday at the meeting in Berlin "the sides will continue a substantive dialogue on all aspects of the Ukrainian internal settlement, particularly as regards the obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015 on the settlement of the key issues through Kiev’s direct dialogue with Donbass."

These are primarily the issues of local elections, granting to the region of a special status formalized in legislation, amnesty and the implementation of a real constitutional reform, the diplomat said.

On Tuesday, Berlin hosted the meeting of the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) deputy foreign ministers to prepare the ministerial meeting.

In comments on its outcome, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS that the Kiev authorities are still either unable or unwilling to take steps towards the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Local elections in Donbass are one of the key points of political settlement in eastern Ukraine. Under the Minsk agreements, the polls were to be held back in 2015, along with a constitutional reform to grant a special status to certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

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

Late last year the leaders of the Normandy Four countries set a new timeframe for elections - the first half of 2016. Ukraine still refuses to discuss preparations for the elections explaining this by a low security level in the region.

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