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Merkel, Macron say Russian military should return to Joint Center in Ukraine

December 23, 2017, 16:10 UTC+3

Russian officers withdrew from the JCCC and left Donbass on December 19

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© EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

BERLIN, December 23. /TASS/. German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron say the Russian military should return to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of Ceasefire in Donbass.

Merkel and Macron say the Joint Center "is playing an important role in efforts to support the OSCE observers and the agreements on ceasefire," press service of the German government said on Saturday.

Russian officers withdrew from the JCCC and left Donbass on December 19. According to Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, Russian officers will return to the JCCC only after Kiev ensures due conditions for their work.

The decision to set up the Joint Center for Control and Coordination tasked to monitor the ceasefire and promote de-escalation and stabilization in the region was passed at a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group of the settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine on October 2, 2014.

On Friday, German government spokesman Georg Streiter after a telephone conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said Germany and France plan to act as mediators to have the Russian military return to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in Donbass. "The chancellor and the Ukrainian president shared the opinion that Russian officers should be back in the JCCC as soon as possible," he said. "They agreed to take efforts so that specialists from Germany and France act as mediators on this matter."

The Russian defense ministry noted on December 13 "the conditions for the presence of Russian officers from the JCCC in Ukraine have become substantially more difficult due to Ukrainian side’s efforts." "They have become openly discriminatory in relation to our officers and apply to both the performance of their duties as part of the JCCC activities and daily living activities," the ministry stressed.

As a result, the Russian foreign ministry said on December 18 that further presence of the Russian military in the JCCC was impossible in such conditions and placed "responsibility for possible consequences on the Ukrainian side."

No alternative to Minsk

Merkel and Macron "stress importance of the overwhelming implementation of the Minsk agreements." "They do not have an alternative in the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict," the statement reads.

The leaders hailed the Contact Group’s agreement on exchange of up to 380 prisoners and called on all the parties to favor fulfilment of the agreement on the prisoners’ exchange and to provide access to the prisoners for representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The German and French leaders also hailed the agreement of December 20 regarding a long-term and overwhelming ceasefire and stressed it is important to respect the OSCE Monitoring Mission’s mandate.

Merkel and Macron said they "would continue watching very closely the situation and how the parties to the conflict observe their promises.".

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