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Contact Group for Ukraine meets in Minsk for a new round of negotiations

February 17, 4:07 UTC+3 MINSK
The political subgroup of the Contact Group has hard work in store, addressing thorny issues on the political agenda ahead of a next ministerial meeting of the Normandy Four
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© Oksana Manchuk/BelTA/TASS

MINSK, February 17. /TASS/. The Contact Group for the settlement in the east of Ukraine will once again meet on Wednesday in the Belarusian capital Minsk for a regular round of negotiations.

"I want to draw attention to the fact that it will take place after Munich Security Conference. There, as well as at the meeting of the Normandy Four foreign ministers and separate international consultations, the importance of consistent implementation of the Minsk Agreements and inadmissibility of hampering them was emphasized," Russia’s envoy to Minsk talks Boris Gryzlov told reporters on Tuesday.

"Russia firmly supports the same position, and will do everything possible for the implementation of these agreements in the framework of the Contact Group," the envoy noted.

‘New political action is needed’

The political subgroup of the Contact Group has hard work in store, addressing thorny issues on the political agenda ahead of a next ministerial meeting of the Normandy Four (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) that is due no later than at the start of March.

"We need new political action, it is necessary to get down as soon as possible to discussion on difficult issues that remain open. The danger of a new escalation is not ruled out as of yet," German Foreign Ministry’s representative said after a meeting in Munich.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, said no full-value discussion on the settlement in Ukraine was held in Munich. "Given the lack of time, we could only exchange assessments. I hope we will have a substantial conversation within the next few weeks," Lavrov said.

He said political issues should be seriously worked out for the next talks. "OSCE representatives in the political subgroup, French representatives came out several times with concrete proposals that Donbass was ready to take as a basis, but Kiev refused to do this," he explained.

The succession of moves to settle the crisis in Donbass was determined and no variant readings were possible, he said.

Russian envoy’s proposals in the focus of discussion

Certain progress was made at the latest meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on January 27 as it discussed the political agenda of the settlement.

OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine Martin Sajdik said after the meetings that discussion had focused in particular on offers of Russian envoy Boris Gryzlov on a constitutional reform in Ukraine with an aim to ensure a special status to Donbass on a permanent basis.

Envoys of the Donets and Lugansk self-proclaimed republics also put forth their proposals on the constitution, but they could not be discussed because of the time limit.

Meanwhile, Kiev’s political stance remains unchanged, Darya Olifer, the press secretary of Ukrainian representative in the Contact Group for the Ukraine settlement, said after a regular round of negotiations in Minsk, Belarus, on January 27.

"Elections in Donbas areas, which are not under Ukraine’s control, should be held according to Ukrainian laws with the presence of Ukrainian parties, Ukrainian journalists and international monitors," Olifer wrote on her page in Facebook.

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