MINSK, July 21. /TASS/. The Contact Group on the Ukrainian settlement has reached an agreement on the withdrawal of tanks and other weapons of a caliber less than 100mm from the line of engagement in Donbas, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ivica Dacic said on Tuesday after the Contact Group meeting.
"The text has been squared. An agreement has been reached to pull back tanks and certain types of weapons of under 100mm caliber. The text has been agreed completely. We expect it to be verified in the evening," he said.
According to Dacic, the agreement will provide for the exact procedure of verification of weapons withdrawal, i.e. who does it and how.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office also noted certain progress reached by the Contac Group’s subgroups on humanitarian, political and economic issues. "There is progress in all issues. I have come to give impetus to this process."
The "key event", expected in autumn, would be local elections in eastern Ukraine, Dacic said, noting the need to agree on the terms for conducting them with all sides - the authorities in Kiev and representatives of east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk republics. OSCE observes should monitor the elections, he said.
He also suggested using Kosovo’s experience in settling the Ukraine conflict. "The success consists in daily small steps rather than in big ones. The purpose is to make weapons silent and achieve progress by means of dialogue. I personally took part in the Kosovo talks. My experience tells me that it is necessary to use the method of small steps to reach agreements on Ukraine," Dacic said.
Ukraine’s representative in the humanitarian subgroup Irina Gerashchenko said certain agreements had been reached on convoying prisoners to Kiev-controlled territories. "We have agreed that the Red Cross [the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC — TASS] may join the international prisoner convoying procedure as a monitoring mission," she said, obviously referring to prisons and penitentiaries in Donbas territories that are not controlled by the Kiev authorities.
The agreement, in her words, is applicable to prisoners "who were sentenced by Ukrainian courts" before the force operation in Donbas was staged. She said there might be about 10,000 such prisoners. "According to our information, about 1,000 of them want to continue serving their sentences at other penitentiaries in Kiev-controlled territories," she wrote on her Facebook account.