BERLIN, August 24. /TASS/. France and Germany have listened to the Ukrainian vision of the situation in the Donbas region, but contacts with the Russian president on the issue are necessary, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Monday following talks with Presidents of France and Ukraine Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko.
"We discussed many issues today", we listened to the stance on them "from the Ukrainian angle," the chancellor said. "We will also resume contacts with the Russian president. I do not rule out that a four-party meeting will take place," Merkel noted.
According to the German leader, there are differences of opinion on Ukraine between the West and Russia which "should be necessarily settled."
Merkel stressed that ceasefire agreements reached in Minsk, Belarus, in February, were "fundamental to peace in Ukraine" and they should not be called into question.
The chancellor also highlighted the importance of ceasefire monitoring by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She expressed concern about attacks on the OSCE observers, urging not to cast doubt on their work in eastern Ukraine.
French President Francois Hollande on Monday pointed to the need for new meetings to resolve the situation in eastern Ukraine, including talks in the so-called Normandy format between leaders and foreign ministry officials from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.
Hollande said: "Fresh talks are certainly needed to implement the Minsk agreements. We have met here today to prepare meetings in the ‘Normandy format’."
According to the French leader, the agreements signed in the Belarusian capital in February should be fully observed, noting also that, according to the Minsk deal, local elections in the Donbass region "should be held under Ukrainian law."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after the meeting said he considers the Minsk process to be a universal tool for achieving peace in Donbas.
"I will repeat once again - there is no alternative to the Minsk process. We confirm it now. The Minsk process is an absolutely universal tool, it’s ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy equipment and artillery, ensuring full release of prisoners, access of OSCE to monitoring these processes," Poroshenko said.
According to him, all issues can be resolved within the framework of the Minsk and Normandy formats. "We do not need new formats, we have the Minsk and Normandy ones. I am prepared to discuss new formats, but we believe the basic format is the Normandy one, which has proved its efficiency," he said.
Kiev "consistently implements the Minsk agreements, including on the humanitarian issues, on ceasefire, on the OSCE, and on the establishment of humanitarian centers in the coming months," Poroshenko said.
He noted that during the meeting the parties discussed the issue of access of monitors to the border to an uncontrolled territory, elections in Donbas, "which threaten the Minsk process."
The leaders of the three countries "discussed the energy issues, the tripartite cooperation between Ukraine, the European Union and Russia on the issue of gas transit through Ukraine to ensure its uninterrupted supply," Poroshenko said.
"I hope that the result will be de-escalation, local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation under the supervision of the OSCE," he said.
The Ukrainian president confirmed that three humanitarian logistics centers will be set up in the Kiev-controlled territories in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions by late August.
"I have ordered to set up three humanitarian logistics centers by the end of the month," Poroshenko said.
Earlier, Pavel Zhebrovsky, the head of the Donetsk regional administration, said that a chain of trade centers would be set up along the disengagement line in the Donetsk region to sell food, household chemicals and medicine. The centers will also be equipped with bank terminals where pensioners will be able to withdraw their pensions.
The logistics centers, Zhebrovsky went on to say, will be protected by national guards and the State Border Service. US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt promised help in creating the logistics centers.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has criticized the idea of logistics centers. Andrey Purgin, the speaker of the DPR People’s Council, said that Kiev’s idea to set up logistics centers from the Kiev-controlled part of the disengagement line had no practical sense in conditions of Ukraine’s blockade of the self-proclaimed republics (DPR and LPR). He added that the Minsk-2 package of measures did not say a word about any logistics centers.