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Minsk to host Contact Group’s meeting on Ukraine crisis

April 20, 2016, 5:47 UTC+3 MINSK

A meeting will be held in the Belarusian capital on Wednesday

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MINSK, April 20. /TASS/. Another meeting of the Contact Group on resolving the conflict in Donbass will be held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday amid the government reshuffle in Ukraine.

On April 14, Kiev managed to end the two-month-long political crisis as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned and a new government was approved led by former parliament speaker Vladimir Groysman. This brought hopes for positive changes in Kiev’s policy and also progress at the peace talks.

Partners in Normandy Four waiting for progress

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande told Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko in a phone conversation that they support the new government and called for making a quick progress in implementing the Minsk agreements. The European leaders underlined the importance of ensuring ceasefire and also progress in adopting a law on elections in Donbass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also expects that Kiev will start taking particular steps on meeting its commitments under the Minsk deal. In a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Putin said it is important for the new government in Ukraine "to establish direct dialogue with Donbass, announce amnesty, carry out a constitutional reform and enforce the law on special status upon agreement with representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk."

Compromise on OSCE

The hopes that the talks on Donbass will intensify come amid the rapprochement of positions between Kiev and Moscow on strengthening the mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the conflict zone.

During his question and answer session on April 14, Putin said for the first time that he supports Poroshenko’s proposal to deploy armed OSCE staff members along the contact line in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko has been calling for this step for several months, including in the Normandy format (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) and at Minsk talks, the Ukrainian presidential administration told TASS. The next day after the Q&A session the Ukrainian president coordinated his position on the armed OSCE mission to Donbass with the German and French leaders.

New proposals on swaps

Ahead of the Minsk talks the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic prepared new proposals on prisoner exchanges with the Ukrainian side. "We are preparing a proposal for the exchange of 25 for 50," the DPR human rights commissioner Daria Morozova said.

The DPR representatives in the humanitarian subgroup plan to ask Kiev to release some 120 elderly people from Ukrainian jails. There are also DPR servicemen and civilians among the prisoners and their health is assessed as unsatisfactory.

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