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Hollande and Merkel to decide on whether to go to Minsk meeting after talks — French FM

February 11, 2015, 11:21 UTC+3 PARIS
According to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the decision on whether to go to Minsk will be taken after Hollande and Mekrel hold telephone talks in the morning
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande


PARIS, February 11. /TASS/. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will decide whether they will go to Minsk after morning telephone talks, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio station on Wednesday.

"The decision on whether to go to Minsk will be taken after their [Hollande and Mekrel] telephone talks in the morning," Fabius said.

"I think that they will make a decision to go to Minsk, after all," he noted. "It is necessary to discuss the results of yesterday’s Contact Group meeting. Many problems remain that need to be solved," the minister said.

"Two goals will be set at the talks in Minsk. First of all, the agreement should be reached. Secondly, it should not be just words on paper. It needs to be implemented," he stressed.

Two main problems remain unsolved at the moment, Fabius said. Firstly, it is the future of Ukraine’s eastern regions, he added. "The Ukrainian government agrees with the principle of decentralization, which is absolutely legitimate," the minister said, adding that "France in this issue will act as a mediator."

"It is important to secure the territorial integrity of Ukraine. At the same time, however, it is important to allow the Russian-speaking population [in Ukraine] to freely use their language and have certain rights as an autonomy," Fabius said. "At the moment, these problems have not been solved," he added.

"The second issue is border guarantees," the minister said. "In this issue, Russia has put forward a number of preconditions. A compromise with Kiev has not been reached yet as it [Kiev] wants OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) to control the inviolability of state borders," Fabius added.

Ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weaponry and prisoner exchange are on the agenda as well, the minister said. "The talks [on Ukraine in Minsk] will be very difficult, and they represent the last chance," he stressed. "The solution to the Ukrainian crisis should be political and diplomatic. France does not plan to supply arms [to Ukraine]," Fabius stressed.

At the same time, "the issue of returning Crimea to Ukraine is not on the agenda, especially by military means," the minister said. Fabius also spoke against Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

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