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OSCE head asks not to question frameworks of Minsk, Normandy Four talks on Ukraine

Miroslav Lajcak stressed that those "who are not interested in solving the problem, in stopping the war" were the people who "might question those formats"

KIEV, September 14. /TASS/. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak asked not to cast doubt on the frameworks of the Minsk and Normandy Four peace talks on Ukraine and added there was "commitment" in them.

"Minsk is what we have, and it was signed at a given time, under a given set of circumstances, and it has not been sincerely implemented. Now we have momentum, we have pressure, we have commitment. It would be detrimental to the whole process if we started questioning the basis, which is Minsk, or the format, which is Normandy," Lajcak said at the 16th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting held in Kiev on Saturday.

He stressed that those "who are not interested in solving the problem, in stopping the war" were the people who "might question those formats".

Prisoner swaps is a top priority for those frameworks, he said.

"One of the most immediate steps is to continue the exchange of prisoners and detained persons. From what I hear from our Ukrainian partners, there is a commitment to continue," he continued. "This is fundamentally important. It is about improving the lives of hundreds and thousands of people, and is also a confidence building measure. I was pleased to hear from my interlocutors in Kyiv, that this is on the cards, it is on the agenda. This is one of the most immediate steps to take if we want the conversation to continue," he said.

Apart from that, Lajcak said he did not consider the deployment of a peacekeeping force in Donbass as a timely measure.

"In order for the peacekeepers to be able to start working, we first need disengagement of forces. There is still no peace, and people are still dying. We need to have the troops withdrawn first, and then think about how to keep peace, how to introduce the peacekeeping mission and monitor how the agreement is respected," Lajcak emphasized.

The first talks of the Normandy Four group took place in France in June 2014 amid commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the landing of allied troops in Normandy. Then the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met for the first time to find a solution to the conflict in the southeast Ukrainian region of Donbass. Since then, the Normandy Four group has held a series of phone talks and summit meetings, along with meetings of foreign ministers and other officials.