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OSCE official: Solving Donbass’ humanitarian, economic woes requires goodwill

Martin Sajdik stressed that the talks on these matters should not be dramatized, nor considered to be deadlocked
Prisoner exchange in Ukraine's war-torn Donbass (archive) Mikhail Sokolov/TASS
Prisoner exchange in Ukraine's war-torn Donbass (archive)
© Mikhail Sokolov/TASS

KIEV, September 14. /TASS/. The hardest humanitarian and economic issues that are vital for the Donbass residents cannot be solved unless all the parties to the conflict show goodwill, Martin Sajdik, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in the East of Ukraine, said in an interview with TASS.

"If there is goodwill, then some developments in the humanitarian area are possible. If the parties are willing, then it is very easy to free people," he said noting that the parties’ unwillingness to meet each other halfway often hold back agreements from being reached.

At the same time, Martin Sajdik stressed that the talks on these matters should not be dramatized, nor considered to be deadlocked. "I would not call this a deadlock but rather a tunnel. It can get very dark in this tunnel at times but once in a while some light can be seen. We are moving through this tunnel, moving forward," he added.

The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson noted with regret that many delicate humanitarian issues still remained unsolved. "For example, (the humanitarian sub-group) speaks about children from orphanages and boarding houses whose family members live on the other side of the border, they talk about reuniting these children with their families. This is a very painful issue, no one must treat it in a cynical way," Sajdik said.

According to him, the missing persons’ issue has also been discussed. "Their numbers are too great," Sajdik noted. Questions remain as to "how the families can find out what happened to their elderly relatives whom they haven’t heard from for a long time." "We need to bring up this issue, but unfortunately little progress has been made in this field," the OSCE official admitted.

The residents of Donbass still face great economic difficulties, Martin Sajdik went on to say. "Unfortunately, there are no bank connections, everything is very complicated as far as finances are concerned," he added speaking out in favor quickly restoring the system of entitlement programs and social welfare payments.

At the same time, the OSCE official pointed out that thanks to the Contact Group’s efforts, much work had already been done in the region on renovating destroyed infrastructure. "We are working on restoring economic ties. Without us, the railway junctions would not be operating and there would be much more difficulties in rebuilding the energy infrastructure," Sajdik explained.

In this regard, he placed some hope on the upcoming meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian Energy Ministries’ representatives that is scheduled for September 21. He stated that the Ukrainian side had already confirmed its readiness to participate in the meeting.