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BERLIN, March 5. /TASS/. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has spoken against long-term isolation of Russia because of the Ukrainian conflict Thursday in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt. It is necessary to continue negotiations on the Ukrainian crisis, Steinmeier stressed.
"Clear words are appropriate" for solving the Ukrainian conflict, the minister said. "However, I never had any illusions that conflicts can be solved only with them [words] or with sanctions," Steinmeier said. It is important "to have courage to return to the negotiating table" in order to solve problems and use every opportunity for that, he added. Along with that, West’s critique of Russia does not exclude its commitment to dialogue with Moscow, the minister stressed.
"I do not bid on Europe’s long-term isolation of Russia," Steainmeier said. "Even if the search for a political solution takes many years or maybe even decades, we must do everything that we can to solve the conflict," he stressed.
The Minsk agreements "are not perfect," the minister said. "I always said that reaching them [Minsk agreements] is not a breakthrough. However, if heavy weaponry withdrawal is completed, if ceasefire is held in general and if we possibly get an opportunity to deliver humanitarian aid to the region, it will be a lot more than ‘nothing’, which everyone wants to see in the Minsk agreements," Steinmeier said.
On February 12, negotiations in the "Normandy format" were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The talks lasted for around 14 hours.
Simultaneously, a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement was held in Minsk, bringing together former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, both representing the Ukrainian side, alongside representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, who acts as a mediator.
As a result, a package of measures on implementing the Minsk agreements was adopted, including on ceasefire in separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions starting from February 15, heavy weaponry withdrawal and long-term political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.