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No settlement if Donetsk, Luhansk deemed separatists — Lavrov

August 04, 2014, 16:34 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Settlement of the Ukraine crisis is hardly possible as long as southeastern Ukrainians are considered terrorists and separatists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says

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© ITAR-TASS / Zurab Javakhadze

MOSCOW, August 04. /ITAR-TASS/. Settlement of the Ukraine crisis is hardly possible as long as southeastern Ukrainians are considered terrorists and separatists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview to ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“Certainly, our partners (the US) make statements on Ukraine. They say they cannot share our approach but are only interested in a speedy peace settlement, they cannot have hidden agenda and do not have any. They only propose some ‘let’s organize contacts, continue discussion with Europeans and Ukrainians’,” he said adding Russia was ready for this.

In this connection, Lavrov mentioned Geneva agreement signed on April 17 by Russia, the US, EU and Ukraine, and July 2 Berlin declaration.

“We are ready to work in different formats, in particular with OSCE participation,” said the Minister citing the meeting in Minsk. “Any formats that will help promote dialogue but this should be a dialogue between the government in Kiev and the regions, primarily Southeast.”

No settlement was likely as long as the people who represented the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions had no place at the negotiating table and “are not considered people representing Ukraine’s vast territories and are described as terrorists and separatists at any opportunity”, Lavrov said. That approach should be changed as trying to convince the rest of the population eastern Ukrainians were separatists distorted the whole situation, the Minister added.

Russia will not allow “sweeping under a carpet rug” all international agreements on the Ukrainian crisis settlement stipulating that all regions in Ukraine must be part of the country, which elects its leaders and provide for the cultural and humanitarian traditions of its population, including the use of the native language,  Sergei Lavrov added.

“Firstly, it is about the meeting in Minsk,” Lavrov said. “The president already gave his evaluations of this event, including in his talks with foreign leaders.

A contact group seeking to resolve the conflict in Ukraine gathered last week in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The group comprises former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma, Russia's ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe's special envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini.

Participants in the meeting agreed on steps to secure a ceasefire, release of hostages and access to investigators probing the Malaysian aircraft disaster.

“We welcome all steps directed at a dialogue instead of continues armed clashes,” Lavrov said. “The dialogue must be undoubtedly productive and equal. In other words, representatives of the Southeast must be treated as partners in the current situation, which must be resolved in a way so that all those living in Ukraine would feel themselves Ukrainians and part of the country, where they directly took part in reforms, which had long been due and overdue.”

“This is by the way what current representatives of Ukraine were talking about when they were in opposition and now they are in power of the state,” the Russian minister said adding that the current authorities must not forget what they were asking for being in the opposition in the past.

“Secondly, it is highly important to abide by other agreements as well reached at the international level,” he said. “The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers jointly with the US secretary of state and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton signed in particular on April 17 in Geneva a statement, which was aimed at the solution of three tasks and all thyree of them were urgent.”

“The first task was the immediate halt to the use of force. The second was the immediate resolution of humanitarian issues. The third was to immediately launch a constitutional reform in the format, which would stipulate the participation of all Ukrainian regions and be open to public opinion,” the top Russian diplomat said.

“None of the three requirements, undersigned by the Ukrainian foreign ministers, ywere implemented primarily because Kiev chose the other path and tried to replace international accords with the so-called peace plan of [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister said the Geneva accords must be respected as they were signed by the US and European representatives as well and “Russia would not allow” to get rid of the accords by simply “sweeping them under a carpet rug.”

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