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European Parliament proposes international forum in Ukraine’s war-torn Donetsk in May

March 11, 2015, 21:13 UTC+3 STRASBOURG

Members of the European Parliament want to discuss the future of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics

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A street in Donetsk

A street in Donetsk

© Alexey Slavny/TASS

STRASBOURG, March 11. /TASS/. Members of the European Parliament have put forward a proposal for an international forum in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk to discuss the future of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics in the wake of the Minsk peace deal agreed in Belarus last month.

The first meeting of the forum under the working title "Donbas: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" is expected to take place in Donetsk in May.

"We want to see how the provisions of the Minsk agreement are being implemented in terms of recognizing local authorities and establishing dialogue with them, as well as ensuring control of the border," Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a French member of the European Parliament and one of the initiators of the proposal, said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Strasbourg, Schaffhauser said, "The aim of our trip is to get an insight into what is going on there and to unite colleagues in searching for a peaceful settlement to the conflict."

Schaffhauser said he had already sent corresponding requests to authorities in eastern Ukraine. "Practical preparation will start after we receive final responses from Donetsk and Luhansk," he added.

The cross-party initiative is a brain child of participants in an international observer mission who monitored the recent elections in the two self-proclaimed republics, including German publisher and journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter, and Italian political scientist Alessandro Musolino.

The idea also received support from Latvian MEP Tatiana Zhdanyuk and Czech MEP Miloslav Ransdorf.

The deal struck on February 12 in Minsk by the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia envisaged a pull-back of heavy weapons from the front line, a release of prisoners and an agreement for international observers to monitor the truce.

Among the terms of the truce were also a commitment to grant wider self-rule to Donetsk and Luhansk, and calls for talks on their long-term status.

Addressing the packed briefing in Strasbourg, the French politician also expressed confidence that last year's overthrow of the Ukrainian government was organised by US intelligence agencies.

"Obviously, it is necessary to recall the events of February 2014. There was an electoral process of democratic renewal in the country. This process was stopped, and there was a coup," Schaffhauser said, noting that the West was "trying to legitimise the coup", but "this does not stop it from being a coup, which was prepared and conducted by representatives of the U.S. intelligence services."

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