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Putin, Macron confirm readiness for further cooperation on Karabakh, Ukraine

Previously, the two leaders discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 16

MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh in detail and confirmed their mutual readiness to continue the coordination on various aspects of the peaceful settlement, Kremlin press service said Tuesday.

"Russian President underscored that the situation in the region stabilizes itself, and the November 9 agreements, achieved by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia - are generally being complied with. The sides noted a successful work of the Russian peacekeepers, who ensure the ceasefire and the safety of civilians under the request of Baku and Yerevan. The sides confirmed mutual readiness for further coordination on various aspects of the settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh, within the OSCE Minsk Group in particular," the press service said.

Humanitarian problems, connected to repatriation of refugees, restoration of infrastructure, preservation of religious and cultural memorials were named as the most pressing issues.

Previously, the two leaders discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 16. At that time, Putin told his French counterpart about the stabilization of situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and deployment of a peacemaker contingent in the region.

Ukrainian crisis

Putin and Macron also exchanged opinions on settling the internal Ukrainian conflict and agreed on continuing work in the Normandy format, the Kremlin press service reported.

"During the exchange of opinions on issues of settling the internal Ukrainian conflict an interest was expressed to activate efforts in order to implement key provisions of the 2015 Minsk Agreements as well as decisions coordinated at the "Normandy Summit" on December 9, 2019 in Paris. Due to that, the Russian side again emphasized the necessity of Ukraine fulfilling its obligations on the political aspects of settlement, including the legalization of the special status of Donbass and enshrining the "Steinmeier formula" in the national legislation. It was agreed on continuing work within the framework of the Normandy format," the statement said.

At the last meeting of leaders of the "Normandy Four" - Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and France on December 9, 2019 in Paris, the participants approved a concluding statement in which, for instance, they supported amendments to the Ukrainian constitution based on the "Steinmeier formula" and expressed adherence to establishing a complete ceasefire in Donbass.

France urges to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine politically, based on negotiations in the so-called Normandy format which existed since June 2014 when the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany who gathered in Normandy for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day discussed the settlement of the conflict in Donbass for the first time. Currently, the peaceful process is based on the Minsk Agreements reached as a result of the February 2015 summit of the "Normandy Four." They include, among others, a complete ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement of the conflicting parties, an amnesty, the renewal of economic ties, as well as a profound constitutional reform in Ukraine.

Vaccine production

The two heads of state also addressed stepping up cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Kremlin press service reported.

"A number of pressing issues of the bilateral cooperation were touched upon with the emphasis on fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The intention to develop contacts between relevant organizations of the two countries on issues of vaccine production and mass inoculation of residents was confirmed," the statement said.

The Kremlin press service noted that Putin wished Macron a happy belated birthday and hoped for his soonest recovery. It was reported earlier that the French president tested positive for the coronavirus on December 17.

On Monday, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told journalists that, according to the report of a treating physician, "the president still has symptoms after contracting the coronavirus." At the same time the spokesman stressed that Macron’s condition is stable and he "continues to work."

In August and November Putin and Macron discussed in phone conversations cooperation in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. For instance, the sides expressed interest in deepening the cooperation in vaccine production and development.

Other issues

Syria, Libya and Iran were among other issues, raised by the two leaders during their phone conversation.

"Regarding the situation around Iran’s nuclear program, both sides stated the demand for collective efforts directed at preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA - TASS). The current situation in Syria and Libya was discussed. Regarding Libya, the importance of observance of a ceasefire regime and promotion of the effective political process with the participation of representatives of all key Libyan forces was noted," the statement said.

The future of the JCPOA came into question after the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018 and introduced oil export sanctions on Iran. A year later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran was reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal. On January 5, 2020, Iran announced the final stage of scaling down such commitments.