PARIS, December 30. /TASS/. France’s former president, Francois Hollande, who participated in attempts to settle the conflict in Donbass and in shaping the Minsk agreements in 2015 has confirmed the then German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement to the effect the agreements were needed for the sole purpose of letting Kiev gain time and build up military muscle for another conflict.
"Yes, Angela Merkel is right on this point," he told the Kiev Independent media outlet, while commenting on Merkel’s remark that the Minsk agreements allowed Kiev to gain time, but by no means prevented further hostilities in the Donbass. "Since 2014, Ukraine has strengthened its military posture. Indeed, the Ukrainian army was completely different from that of 2014. It was better trained and equipped. It is the merit of the Minsk agreements to have given the Ukrainian army this opportunity."
The former French leader said that he was not sure that Russia would respect the Minsk agreements, but acknowledged that President Vladimir Putin accepted the proposal for Normandy Quartet talks (by Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) and adhered to the policy of a dialogue. He also acknowledged that at that moment the West also needed a lull.
While commenting on the prospects for negotiations in the current conflict, Hollande said that "for a dialogue to be fruitful, it must be based on a balance of power."
"Dialogue for the sake of dialogue has no meaning and can even have negative consequences by suggesting that responsibilities are shared and by offering a convenient communication framework [for Russia]," Hollande said. "A dialogue (now) can only serve to translate a military situation into a political framework."
Hollande said that the negotiations should lead not just to truce, but to a complete and lasting settlement of the conflict. He speculated "the Minsk agreements can be resurrected to establish a legal framework already accepted by all parties."
Merkel about Minsk agreements
Earlier in December, in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, Merkel said the Minsk agreements were an attempt to give Ukraine time to become stronger. She argued that it was clear to everyone that the conflict was frozen and the problem remained unresolved, but in this way Ukraine gained invaluable time. She expressed doubts that at that time the NATO countries were able to provide support for Kiev to the extent that they do now.
Russian President Vladimir Putin later said that he had found Merkel's confessions concerning the Minsk agreements totally unexpected and disappointing.