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DPR rules out further compromises on Steinmeier formula for conflict settlement

Kiev’s representatives had refused to sign the Steinmeier formula earlier this week
DPR Foreign MInister Natalya Nikonorova Mikhail Dzhaparidze/TASS
DPR Foreign MInister Natalya Nikonorova
© Mikhail Dzhaparidze/TASS

DONETSK, September 20. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is categorically against any further concessions under the so-called Steinmeier formula, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova, who represents in the Contact Group on settlement of the conflict in Donbass, said on Friday.

"Ukraine’s practice of rejecting what it agreed earlier is perplexing. Now it is about the text of the Steinmeier formula that has been twice approved by the Normandy Quartet summits and confirmed at meetings of advisers to the leaders of the Minsk accords guarantor nations, including by UKraine’s representative Andrei Yermak, more than once. Nonetheless, Kiev is not hesitating to say it wants to change the text of this mechanism, ignoring a direct instruction from its own envoy in the Normandy format to endorse the agreed wording," she said, adding that this fact calls to question Yermak’s mandate as his instructions are ignored by his own colleagues.

"We would like to point to the Ukrainian leadership that the Steinmeier-suggested mechanism of enforcing the law on Donbass’ special status is not a compromise that emerged due to Kiev’s inability to implement the political provisions of the Package of Measures in a way and with the timeframe outlined in the document. So, it is inadmissible to call on Donbass representatives to make further compromises - we have already agreed a compromise solution and strongly insist on Ukraine’s implementing it," she stressed.

According to Nikonorova, advisers to the Normandy Quartet leaders had to discuss the Steinmeier formula after Ukraine’s negotiators in the Contact Group had refused to work on this mechanism. "Hence, now that there is a direct order to sign the text of this formula at the Minsk talks the Ukrainian side refusal to do that is a flagrant and openly cynical violation of its commitments," she said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko said in an interview with the European Truth news outlet earlier that Kiev could not sign the Steinmeier formula text on September 18 in Minsk because of a "technical misunderstanding." He said that Kiev’s negotiator Leonid Kuchma had said that "something might be added or removed" from the text.

After the Wednesday meeting of the Contact Group, Russia’s chief negotiator Boris Gryzlov said that Kiev’s representatives had refused to sign the Steinmeier formula. This way, in his words, Kiev had frustrated a resolution on the disengagement of forces in Petrovskoye and Zolotoye and had called to question a Normandy Quartet summit as its condition was a positive result in the two above mentioned areas.

Peace settlement of the conflict in Donbass rests on the Package of Measures, known as Minsk-2, that was signed by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising senior representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE on February 12, 2015, after marathon 16-hour talks between the leaders of the Normandy Four nations, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. The 13-point document envisages a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also lays out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including amnesty, resumption of economic ties, local elections and a constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.

The conflict settlement formula for Donbass that was proposed by the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in late 2015 envisages the enforcement of the Ukrainian law on a special procedure of local self-government on certain territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on a temporary basis on the day of local elections in Donbass, and on a permanent basis after the OSCE publishes a report on their results.