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OSCE urges Kiev to open checkpoints in Luhansk region to relief aid

October 20, 2015, 19:42 UTC+3
Certain progress has been reached at today’s talks of the Contact Group on the Ukrainian settlement
1 pages in this article
©  TASS/Mikhail Sokolov

MINSK, October 20 /TASS/. The Contact Group for Ukraine settlement has urged Kiev to open checkpoints on the disengagement line in Donbas to relief aid, Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the Contact Group, said on Tuesday.

We are calling on the Ukrainian authorities to open the checkpoints on the disengagement line in the Luhansk region as early as possible, Sajdik said adding the issue was partly linked to the mine clearance problem.

According to Sajdik, 16,000 tonnes or approximately 800 trucks of relief cargo, consisting of food and building materials, are ready for dispatch but cannot be delivered. He stressed the population of the Luhansk region needed food and building materials ahead of the forthcoming winter.

OSCE notes certain progress reached at Contact Group talks

Certain progress has been reached at today’s talks of the Contact Group on the Ukrainian settlement, Martin Sajdik also noted.

"Very interesting discussion. We continue interesting work. Progress has been reached on various matters," he said, adding that the security subgroup had focused attention on issues of demining "due to urgent humanitarian and economic projects."

"The second topic was further de-escalation in Shirokino. The third topic - verification of heavy weapons withdrawal," he said. In his words, the subgroup had agreed to continue efforts to elaborate the principles of demining and outlining the list of relevant priorities.

"No progress can be reached in other spheres [such as economy, politics or humanitarian matters] and no elections can be held without progress in demining. All these issues are interrelated," the OSCE envoy said.

The political subgroup focused on elections-related problems. "Attention is focused on the organization of the election process, the role of political parties and the mass media," he said.

The economic group centered round issues of resuming water supplies. "Today, this discussion was continued. This subject is linked with the issue of demining, as these projects can be possible only after demining," Sajdik said. "Positive steps in issues of resuming railway service and electricity supplies were noted." He also said that coal supplies from the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk to Ukraine-controlled territories were daily increasing. "And this is also linked with the issue of demining," he underscored.

According to the OSCE envoy, most of humanitarian organizations have not been active in Donbas since mid-July. "In the recent time, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only international organization that can work there. All United Nations agencies have been prohibited to work here until today. The United Nations has been denied permit despite the fact that it presented all necessary documents," he said.

In his words, a total of 16,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes, or 800 trucks, were prepared for shipment but could not be delivered. He said these cargoes included not only foods, but also building materials.

"We are calling on the Ukrainian authorities to open the checkpoints on the disengagement line in the Lugansk region as early as possible," Sajdik said, adding the issue was partly linked to the mine clearance problem.

The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, signed a 13-point Package of Measures to fulfil the September 2014 Minsk agreements. The package was agreed with the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine.

The Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.

To spur up the work of the Contact Group, four working subgroups were set up within it on four key aspects of the Minsk agreements, namely on issues of security; on political issues; on issues of prisoner exchange and refuges; and on social, humanitarian and economic aspects.

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