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Top Ukrainian diplomat calls for calm over ‘Steinmeier formula’

On Sunday, October 6, about 3,000 people took to the streets in Kiev in protest against the "Steinmeier formula"
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Prystaiko REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Prystaiko
© REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KIEV, October 7. /TASS/. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Prystaiko has warned the Ukrainians against rushing to condemn the "Steinmeier formula," as a broad discussion of the laws on a special status for Donbass and elections in the region is due before it is put into practice.

"Everyone in Ukraine has already hashed over the ‘Steinmeier formula’. There are people at the Foreign Ministry who are still looking into its consequences, and meanwhile everybody already knows all about it, specifically the people who are protesting against it in the streets," he noted ironically at a news conference.

"I want to tell you that the ‘Steinmeier formula’ means nothing in itself until we have two laws — on holding elections and on a special status," Prystaiko stressed. "The formula itself only explains how they will be applied. These laws must be coordinated by our society, our deputies," Prystaiko noted.

He added that Ukraine was also looking into alternative scenarios. "As to whether we have plan ‘B’, or ‘C’ and ‘D’ — yes, of course we do have these plans, but we are not going to discuss them as long as there is the option that will be discussed by the Normandy Four leaders," the diplomat stressed.

Protests against the so-called "Steinmeier Formula" that Kiev’s representatives approved at a meeting in Minsk on October 1 have been taking place across Ukraine — namely in downtown Kiev on October 1 and 2 and in Kiev’s central Nezalezhnosti (Independence) Square on Sunday, October 6, involving about 3,000.

Nationalists demand that Foreign Minister Vadim Prystaiko and Kiev’s Envoy to the Contact Group on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine Leonid Kuchma step down and a criminal investigation be opened into them "if the document is signed on Russia’s terms."

In his video address on October 3, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky urged the Ukrainian people not to fall for provocations in connection with the approval of the "Steinmeier formula." There is no capitulation, no surrendering of national interests in this document, he stressed. He also said the Donbass election should take place "not at gunpoint, but in line with the Ukrainian law" and "with the border controlled by the Ukrainian border guards."

Meanwhile, Moscow reiterates a need to consistently comply with the Minsk Agreements, which say that Kiev gets control of the state border only after the local elections in Donbass, and after certain areas of the region get a special status.

Steinmeier formula

In late 2015, the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier put forward a plan that later became known as the "Steinmeier Formula." The plan stipulates that special status be granted to Donbass in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. In particular, the document envisages that Ukraine’s special law on local self-governance will take effect in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on a temporary basis on the day of local elections, becoming permanent after the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) issues a report on the vote’s results.