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Opinions & Interviews

29 Nov 2016

Lavrov: No breakthroughs during the Minsk talks on Ukraine

Lavrov: No breakthroughs during the Minsk talks on Ukraine

MINSK, 29 November (BelTA) – No breakthroughs were made, however, the agreements secured by the Normandy Four leaders are not challenged. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov made the statement after the four-way meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany in Minsk on 29 November, BelTA has learned.

According to Sergei Lavrov, the meeting in Minsk took place upon instructions of the Normandy Four heads of state, who had met last in Berlin. Among other things the discussion touched upon progress in carrying out the Minsk agreements of February 2015. “It is clear that the fulfillment of these agreements is stuck in the mud despite the attention that the leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine regularly pay to these matters. So far we’ve been unable to routinely agree even the sequence of the steps that need to be taken, first and foremost, in the area of security and political reforms,” stated the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sergei Lavrov said he was referring to the law on the special status of several parts of the Donbass area, the amendment of Ukraine’s Constitution to secure this status, the amnesty and the organization of municipal elections.

“We tie the steps, which are needed to prepare all these reforms, to steps in the sphere of security. And it is the sequence of these actions that we were talking about,” specified Sergei Lavrov.

In his words, violations in a number of situations were registered. Heavy weapon systems had been withdrawn in line with the previous decisions but some of the weapon systems are regularly returned to the contact line.

The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs said that apart from the sequence of steps in security matters and political reforms they had also discussed the humanitarian situation and the economic one. “We support the decisions that need to be made to fulfill the instructions of the Normandy Four leaders. I am referring to the access of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to all the prisoners of war on both sides of the contact line and to the resumption of services for the population, who have been unable to enjoy the services in full so far. It is true for a number of issues relating to water supply, basic economic life, and many other things,” said Sergei Lavrov.

Participants of the Minsk talks on Ukraine also toyed with the idea of withdrawing personnel from the so-called three pilot areas along the contact line in addition to the withdrawal of heavy weapon systems. Those areas are Zolotoye, Petrovskoye, and Stanitsa Luganskaya. “The withdrawal did happen in the former two. But the process is still stuck in Stanitsa Luganskaya due to some difficulties on the part of the Ukrainian army,” said the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“So we saw no breakthroughs today. Yet I deem positive the fact that the agreements that the [the Normandy Four] leaders made on 19 October are not challenged the way it was done in the past, including with regard to the initial Minsk accords and the decisions made in Paris a year ago,” said Sergei Lavrov.

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