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MOSCOW, 4 March. /TASS/. The so-called "Normandy format" group, comprising Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, has proved effective in the search for a solution to the Ukraine crisis without undergoing changes in its composition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
"An interest in the Ukrainian crisis is understandable. Let me remind you that besides the ‘Normandy format’, which was created in early June and proved its effectiveness, there are situations when certain multilateral forums are being held attended by the ‘Normandy format’ countries and other states concerned, and initiatives are being launched to discuss the Ukrainian issue in a particular circle," Lavrov said.
The foreign minister recalled a summit of European and Asian leaders in Milan last October, initiated by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who brought both "Normandy format" members and several other European leaders to the negotiating table. "A very useful conversation took place," he said.
"We thank the Italian leadership for the initiative which to a large extent allowed us to start a process of understanding the reasons hindering the implementation of the September Minsk agreements and helped to start a process that led to a complex of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements adopted in Minsk on February 12," Lavrov said.
The "Normandy format" group is recognized as "a very important support mechanism to reinforce the work of the Contact Group" on the Ukraine crisis, which brings together both the Kiev authorities and representatives of east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions alongside Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) acting as mediators, he noted.
"This ‘conglomerate’ is generally accepted, also due to the fact that the UN Security Council has approved in its resolution the Minsk package" consisting of the complex of measures, signed by the Contact Group, and the declaration, adopted by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in support of these measures, Lavrov said.
"We will continue to insist that all these agreements should be fully implemented," he added.
On February 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko held a marathon negotiating session in Minsk, Belarus, seeking to reach political settlement in the future of eastern Ukraine.
Simultaneously, the Belarusian capital hosted a Contact Group meeting attended by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Kiev’s special envoy for humanitarian issues and leader of Ukrainsky Vybor (Ukrainian Choice) public organization Viktor Medvedchuk, both representing the Ukrainian side, alongside the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, OSCE special envoy for Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov.
The meetings produced a package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, including ceasefire in certain areas of east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions starting from February 15, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line and measures for long-term political settlement of the conflict in Ukraine.