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OSCE secretary general notes real progress in Donbass peace process

However, Thomas Greminger noted that this progress should not be overestimated, stressing that it only represents one of the stages of regulation

PARIS, November 15. /TASS/. The new Ukrainian government has contributed to real progress in the Donbass peace process, however, the regulation is far from over, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper published on Friday.

"Such a turn of events has become possible after a change of president in Ukraine," he said, commenting on the disengagement of forces on the Donbass line of contact. "We witness real progress regarding adherence to the ceasefire." The OSCE commended the reconstruction of the bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya, the only official crossing point between Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic.

However, Greminger noted that this progress should not be overestimated, stressing that it only represents one of the stages of regulation. "After the three pilot zones, we need to demilitarize the entire line of contact spanning 450 km. And there are unresolved issues: we need to agree on what the special status of Donbass will represent," he pointed out. According to Greminger, the decentralization issue needs to be discussed, along with the conditions of the elections on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).

"For this, we need direct political control, which is possible in the course of the so-called Normandy Four summit, which unites Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany," Greminger said. "We hope that it [the summit] will take place in the next three-four weeks."

The secretary general added that the OSCE has no mechanism to influence the sides; however, it can provide a negotiating platform. "We do not forget Crimea," he said in response to a question on whether the issue of Crimea could get lost in the light of the success in Donbass. "Speaking of this conflict, we always discuss the crisis in Ukraine and around it."


Disengagement of forces and Normandy Talks


On November 12, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission confirmed the pullback of forces near Petrovskoye - the last of the three previously agreed pilot areas in Donbass.

The completion of disengagement in Petrovskoye finalizes the process of disengaging forces and weapons in three pilot security zones on the contact line, namely near Petrovskoye (in the Donetsk People’s Republic), Zolotoye and Stanitsa Luganskaya (both in the Lugansk People’s Republic). A framework agreement on disengagement of forces in Donbass was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in September 2016. The parties resumed efforts to implement the 2016 agreement after the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine.

The disengagement of forces and weapons at the contact line in Donbass is required for holding a summit of the Normandy Four countries (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) to discuss further steps to settle the conflict in the region.

Earlier on Friday, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron informed that the Normandy Four summit would take place on December 9, 2019 in Paris.