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Contact Group to focus on de-escalation along contact line in Donbass

August 03, 10:16 UTC+3 MINSK
The Contact Group’s subgroups on security, political, humanitarian issues and on economic aspects will hold meetings in Minsk on Wednesday
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Denis Pushilin, chief negotiator of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Vladislav Deinego, representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic

Denis Pushilin, chief negotiator of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Vladislav Deinego, representative of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic

© EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

MINSK, August 3. /TASS/. The issue de-escalation of the situation along the contact line of the conflict sides in Donbass is still on the agenda of the Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in the east of Ukraine. The group participants will meet in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday to negotiate a peaceful solution to the problem.

The Contact Group’s subgroups on security, political, humanitarian issues and on economic aspects will also hold meetings in Minsk on Wednesday.

New attempt

The security subgroup was supposed to agree on a document on the disengagement of the conflict sides in a number of areas along the contact line. In particular, according to Russia’s chief negotiator in the Contact Group Boris Gryzlov, the sides considered a possibility to create up to 10 security zones, including in the areas adjacent to the checkpoints. However, they have failed to come to terms so far.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Martin Sajdik, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in the East of Ukraine, commenting on the results of the group’s meeting held on July 27, sad that the issue of the disengagement of forces would be discussed at the next meeting of the security subgroup on August 3.

Viktoria Talakina, the press secretary of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic’s (DPR) chief negotiator Denis Pushilin, said for her part that despite the best efforts of the DPR and LPR republic’s negotiators, the only agreed disengagement points remain Petrovskoye and Zolotoye.

On July 28, at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna with the participation of Martin Sajdik and the political subgroup coordinator Ertugrul Apakan, Russia's permanent representative to OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said that "the first step toward de-escalation (in Donbass) should be the earliest agreement in the Contact Group on the parameters of the disengagement of the sides’ forces parties and the creation of demilitarized zones on the contact line." He added that it is necessary to simultaneously ensure political guarantees of security for the residents of the southeast of Ukraine. "To this end, Kiev should agree with representatives of separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on the permanent legislation on the special status of these districts and the decentralization amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine", the Russian permanent representative said.

Security and political settlement - parallel processes

Russia’s chief negotiator Boris Gryzlov said he was certain that the issues of security in Donbass should not impede the political settlement progress. "The security issue should not become a stumbling block to the solution of other political questions. Otherwise, the settlement process will be dependent on those who do not want peace in Donbas," he said.

Gryzlov also proposed to regulate and record the work of the Contact Group’s subgroups, socially the political subgroup. This is important, according to the official, for "fixing the reached agreements, and not to return to the discussion of issues over and over again." He reiterated that any progress in matters of security must be accompanied by the political settlement progress.

Denis Pushilin accused the Kiev authorities of dragging out the Minsk-2 political issues’ settlement. Even the progress made in the negotiations, in particular by the political subgroup, is neutralized by the frequent change of Kiev’s representatives, he said. According to him, the work of the group has now returned to the situation of May 2015, because the Ukrainian representatives lack full powers and due to the fact that not all the reached agreements are formalized.

Political agenda

The Contact Group’s political subgroup will return to the discussion on Wednesday of the roadmap for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, prevention of persecution of the Donbass events’ participants and the modalities of the elections.

DPR Acting Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova said that at the previous meeting, the political subgroup members received from the Contact Group a direct instruction to clearly define and submit for initialing all the points on which the parties have reached consensus. "There are not many of them, but they exist," she said, adding that Kiev had to present its position on these issues back on July 29 via its coordinator, but has failed to do so.

Nikonorova said she hoped that the Ukrainian representatives on Wednesday would at least not refuse from the matters long agreed upon. "If the situation on the diplomatic front is stalled further, we are concerned over its possible aggravation in the military sphere: shelling attacks on our territories have intensified of late", she said.

The official also said that at the meeting of the Contact Group Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine Martin Sajdik would be presented signatures of Donbas residents under a petition on Ukraine’s non-fulfilment of the Minsk agreements. "We hope that all these signatures, and there are more than 300,000 of them, will get the attention of not only Kiev, but also of the leaders of the guarantor countries," she said.

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