'Normandy Quartet' reloads Minsk II

'Normandy Quartet' reloads Minsk II

All the leaders of the 'Normandy Quartet' confirmed their commitment to the Minsk Agreements at the summit, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said after international talks in Berlin.

In addition, Putin said that it was agreed that the monitors from the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) will "broaden their mission" in the conflict zones.

"We paid special attention to security issues and agreed on what should be done in the near future in terms of solving issues regarding the separation of the conflicting sides," TASS cited him as saying.

Putin noted that Russia was prepared to “broaden” the OSCE mission in the zones of withdrawal and storage of heavy machinery.

The parties aim to continue working together on settlement in eastern Ukraine, in particular, in reaching “final agreements on the framework of implementation and enforcement of the agreement on special status of certain areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

"We agreed on a few, unfortunately just a few humanitarian issues. Unfortunately, there was not much progress on the issue, but the sides expressed readiness to solve humanitarian problems," the Russian President expressed regret.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that the Normandy Four leaders have reached an agreement at talks in Berlin on establishing four new zones of disengagement of forces in Donbass.

According to Merkel, the Normandy Four reached an agreement on access of OSCE observers to the Russian-Ukrainian border in Donbass.

"The Minsk Agreements envisage access of Ukrainians to the border at the end of the process. Meanwhile, an agreement was reached - it was discussed in detail today - on free movement of OSCE observers near the border," TASS cited her as saying.

"When the law on election is ready, when the working process is coordinated, then we can talk about an OSCE mission, which may be armed. However, today it was of absolutely no urgency. At first we need a law on election," Merkel added.

Merkel said the Normandy Four plans to bring together approaches to security issues in east Ukraine and political settlement in the framework of the roadmap.

"We discussed the working process in which there are many sides and from which one should proceed in the work on such issues as security, political process," Merkel said. 

"This should continue in the framework of the roadmap on different steps of the Package of measures on implementing the Minsk Agreements. This is a progress," she added.

"We agreed that work on the roadmap will continue in the next month at the level of foreign ministries, and will be more intensive," Merkel said, adding that the Normandy Four leaders think regular meetings necessary in the future.

French President Francois Hollande, in turn, said that the foreign ministers of the Normandy Four countries are tasked with immediately starting preparations for election in Donbass.

"The roadmap will be coordinated by the foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet. It will be devised with observance of all points of the Minsk Agreements. It was important to move forward on several matters, in particular on security, humanitarian and political issues," the French president noted.

"Immediate and full ceasefire should be ensured, along with weaponry withdrawal, and parts of Ukrainian territory should be established that still have difficulties with implementing these decisions," he said. "In security matters, we need to avoid those misunderstandings that happened last summer," Hollande added.

In the humanitarian sphere, among top priorities are issues connected with prisoners and ensuring the access of people in east Ukraine to social services," he said.

Hollande stressed that "summit in the Normandy format is the only framework, in which the Ukrainian problem may be resolved effectively".

Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said that the foreign ministers should approve a draft roadmap by the end of November. 

The roadmap will also establish the sequence of implementing the Minsk Agreements, he continued. "Security comes first, then power will be transferred to lawful representatives during the election," Poroshenko said. "After the roadmap is prepared at the level of experts, it will be presented to ministers and then approved by them," he noted.

Poroshenko noted that Normandy Four leaders separately discussed preparations for election in Donbass. "We agreed to continue work at the level of experts, at the level of working subgroups (of the Contact Group) on preparing a concept of election legislation, implementation of the so-called ‘Steinmeier formula’ (introduction of special status in Donbass)," he said.

"Election is not yet discussed," the Ukrainian president said adding that "we will be able to discuss elections only after coordinating the roadmap."

Poroshenko also confirmed adherence to releasing prisoners on the "all for all" basis. "We discussed our proposal to ensure access to them by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. We hope this will also facilitate the resolution of issue of people detained on the Russian territory," he added.

The political scientist Andrei Yepifantsev, told Vestnik Kavkaza that it would be hardly correct to sum up the results of the 'Normandy summit' now, because a number of uncertainties remain.
He explained that it will be possible to sum up the results of the meeting in Berlin only after studying a 'roadmap', which is unfinished yet.

However, according to the expert, it can be argued that Kiev's maximalist expectations from the 'Norman Quartet' meeting did not come true. "The 'road map' was unexpected for the Ukrainian side, because Poroshenko arrived in Berlin with other objectives: a greater involvement of the OSCE in the process, the OSCE military mission at the border between Donetsk, Luhansk and Russia, the withdrawal of Russian troops, although they are not there. In addition, the closure of all public institutions in Donetsk and Luhansk - that is, quite impossible conditions," the political expert said.

Regarding the issue of elections in Donbass, Kiev puts it in dependence on the course of the hostilities, using any excuse to not fulfill the Minsk agreements, which are unprofitable for them.

According to him, the approach taken by Europe and Moscow may work: it is necessary to move the troops away, and then it will be difficult to open fire. "But Ukraine will use every opportunity to delay the process," Yepifantsev said. On the other hand, according to the expert, the level of public dissatisfaction with the actions of Ukraine increased in Russia.

Commenting on Poroshenko's statement about the OSCE military mission, Yepifantsev explained that in the first place, Kiev is intended to draw the West into conflict.

Therefore, in the current environment, it makes sense to only strengthen the OSCE mission, to increase the number of observers, so that they visit the territories more actively, Andrei Yepifantsev concluded.

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