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Foreign ministers of Normandy quartet to discuss Ukrainian crisis settlement ways

January 12, 2015, 3:36 UTC+3 BERLIN

Monday’s meeting is expected to focus on the implementation of the Minsk agreements

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© Valeriy Sharifulin / TASS

BERLIN, January 12. /TASS/. Foreign ministers of the “Normandy quartet” countries (comprising Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France) will meet in the German capital on Monday to discuss the Ukrainian situation settlement.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will receive his colleagues from Russia, Ukraine and France - Sergei Lavrov, Pavel Klimkin and Laurent Fabius at the German foreign minister’s guest house - Villa Borsig.

The ministers’ telephone conversations on Friday, January 9 preceded Monday’s meeting. Steinmeier then proposed the foreign ministers of the “Normandy quartet” to hold a meeting in Berlin. In addition, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sides “continued the discussion of the ways of assisting the peaceful settlement of the situation in the southeast of Ukraine with emphasis on the implementation of the Minsk agreements by the conflict sides.”

“We want to do everything for attaining a political compromise that would help defuse the situation in the east of Ukraine,” the German foreign minister said after the talks.

This format of negotiations got the “Normandy” name after a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine on June 6, 2014 in French Normandy during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the landing of the Allied forces that made a decisive contribution to the liberation of Europe from fascism.

Monday’s meeting is expected to focus on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Both Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel from the German side have in recent days emphasised that there is no alternative to the fulfilment of all the clauses of this document.

Germany’s federal government says that before proceeding from foreign ministers’ talks to the summit-level negotiations “progress should be made,” in particular, in the sphere of “the observance of the ceasefire regime and setting the demarcation line.”

Merkel says that there is no progress at present on the basis of the Minsk accords and therefore official Berlin has not confirmed the chancellor’s participation in the “Normandy quartet” meeting in Astana on January 15 of which Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko previously spoke. German government’s spokesman Steffen Seibert has repeatedly said that it is unknown when such a meeting will take place, if at all.

In this connection local observers said that the ministers’ meeting at Villa Borsig may promote progress to the absence of which Merkel pointed and thus may pave the way for the summit-level meeting of the “Normandy quartet.”

A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the OSCE on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. The signed memorandum comprises 12 points the main of which are the ceasefire and prisoner exchange agreements.

On September 19, a memorandum was adopted in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5. The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line from each side.

The sides have a long and hard way ahead for implementing all the clauses of the document, the German foreign minister previously said. “On Monday we will make another attempt to remove all the obstacles from the way. It would be wrong not to use this chance,” Steinmeier said.

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