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KIEV, July 8. /TASS/. The exchange of views between Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics (DPR, LPR) within the Contact Group and its working subgroups is useful for Ukraine, special envoy of the OSCE chairperson-in-office in Ukraine Martin Sajdik has said.
"I think the Minsk format exists to facilitate the exchange of views between Kiev and representatives of separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. This exchange of views is useful for Ukraine," he said in an interview posted on the Ukrinform website.
Sajdik noted though that "he would be glad if the Minsk format ceased to exist." "I cannot say what the group’s expected ‘shelf life’ is… When the trilateral Contact Group ceases to exist, it will be a very positive sign," Sajdik said, adding that the meetings in Minsk continue, and the next one will take place on July 13.
According to the envoy, the humanitarian aspect, in particular prisoner exchange, is one of the most important factors in the work of the Contact Group. "Every time there is small progress" in the work of the humanitarian subgroup, he said, adding that there is an understanding of all parties in this matter, including DPR and LPR experts, "who want to solve issues for the benefit of the people." "I do not have the impression that they do not want and do not understand the humanitarian aspect of the issue," Sajdik said.
He noted, however, that the Donbass republics (DPR, LPR) "are reluctant to give the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a greater role as a coordinator." "But it is necessary to do basic work - where and what prisoners are kept and what they really want. All these issues should be addressed by outside experts, and, of course, the ICRC is a number-one expert in the world," he said.
Sajdik admitted that to date he had not visited the areas in eastern Ukraine beyond Kiev’s control. "I am in Kiev, but I have been on the ground. I visited Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk a month ago," he said, adding that now "it would be useful to see the other side too.".