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Crisis in Ukraine

Crisis in Ukraine

Published on May 27, 2014
Latest Official Statements From the French Authorities

Communiqué issued by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, on the Normandy format ministerial meeting

Paris, February 24, 2015

The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met this morning in Paris, in accordance with the decision made by the heads of state and government in the Normandy format last week.

The meeting followed the signing in Minsk of a “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” and the declaration by the heads of state and government of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine adopted on 12 February 2015, providing for the establishment of an oversight mechanism in the Normandy format.

This morning they exchanged views on the implementation of the ceasefire. The situation in Debaltseve in particular was discussed and particular attention was given to the situation in the region of Mariupol.

The four ministers call for the strict implementation of all provisions of the Minsk agreements, beginning with a total ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of heavy weapons.

They call for the swiftest possible conclusion of the plans for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and their full implementation. They ask for a reinforcement of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and the extension of its mandate with additional personnel, equipment and financing. To this end, they are ready to take the initiative in Vienna to ensure that this mandate is extended swiftly.

They call on all parties to ensure full access by the OSCE observers to all areas. They call on all parties to fully cooperate with the OSCE, in order to enable it to fulfil its mandate, particularly regarding the monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. They invite the OSCE and the JCCC to liaise closely in their work in order to help the OSCE monitor the ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
They also call on the Trilateral Contact Group to establish working groups without delay, in order to achieve progress on a range of issues, including the political process, as agreed in the “Package of Measures”, with the participation of representatives of all signatories of the Minsk agreements.

They underline the importance of unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to all areas.

Lastly, they confirm that France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine remain determined to continue their action in this format and to do their utmost to ensure that the commitments made are honoured and the crisis is resolved.

They task their political directors/deputy foreign ministers to oversee the implementation of the Minsk Package. They will return to the issue if need be./.


Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to I-Télé (excerpts)

Paris, February 12, 2015

MINSK TALKS

Q. – You’re back from Minsk, where you took part in the 16 hours of tense negotiations on Ukraine’s future; we’ll come back to the details of the agreement reached, which includes a ceasefire, the creation of a buffer zone and a democratic process. But before that, a word about the atmosphere of that 16-hour diplomatic marathon you attended alongside François Hollande, of course, Angela Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sixteen hours of high tension and robust discussions?

THE MINISTER – It was very difficult: nearly 17 hours of negotiations. As is often the case in these kinds of negotiations, there were highs and lows. At the beginning, we were working on a text that we, the Germans and French, had drawn up together; things were going well. The person who sets the tone is very important – the one who proposes the text prepared by our advisors beforehand.

Q. – In fact, it was Angela Merkel and François Hollande who set the tone.

THE MINISTER – Right. As we entered into the discussions, on two main points it became very difficult. In the end, it was almost scuppered completely because the separatists, who were in another building in the city, said they didn’t agree.

So there were two main points where the discussions foundered for several hours. Firstly, of course, the control of the borders: if Ukraine’s integrity is to be respected, there must be borders, and the Russians were and remain very reluctant. The other aspect is, what’s the status of the much-talked-about regions, Luhansk and Donetsk? There’s a whole very complicated mechanism there; it took a long time.

If I had to sum up the agreement that was finally signed, I’d say hope but vigilance.

Q. – When you say it became very difficult at one point, do you mean Vladimir Putin lost his temper?

THE MINISTER – No.

Q. – Were there tense discussions with the Ukrainian President or not? Did they simply talk, directly?

THE MINISTER – Yes, of course. We were in a large, circular room with a small room next door. Depending on what point we were at in the discussion – there were about 15 or 20 of us – everyone was talking together or in small groups. For example, François Hollande and Angela Merkel, Mr Poroshenko and Mr Putin, Mr Putin and M. Hollande. At other moments, there were meetings of the foreign ministers – there were four of us –, or meetings with just the four heads of state and government. (…)

CEASEFIRE/MILITARY SITUATION

Q. – Has war been avoided?

THE MINISTER – I think so and I hope so. The plan proposed and adopted is a peace plan. Now, clearly, I say “hope but vigilance” because a lot has yet to be done. A ceasefire has been decided for 0.00 on Sunday; it will have to be implemented. Then there are a whole series of legal and economic problems to overcome. I was telling you that it was almost scuppered at one point because the separatists said, “no, we don’t want your agreement”. Why? Because – I imagine you have the map in mind – there’s a city which is currently…

Q. – Being surrounded…

THE MINISTER – Well, that’s disputed: the Ukrainians say, “not at all, we’re relatively relaxed”. The Russians and the separatists say, “we’re about to surround it”.

Q. – It’s the city of Debaltsevo, a strategic hub…

THE MINISTER – Exactly. There are 5,000 to 6,000 men with powerful weapons. So the separatists wanted – want perhaps – to exploit their advantage to push it to the limit. So they wanted the ceasefire to come as late as possible so that they could turn their malicious thoughts into deeds.

Q. – Moreover, as soon as he emerged from the 17 hours of talks with you, Mr Putin asked those Ukrainian soldiers, who are supposedly surrounded, to lay down their weapons. Is it him, Vladimir Putin, who’s giving the orders?

THE MINISTER – Vladimir Putin has an influence over the separatists, but at the same time he makes out he’s an external party. Ultimately, what he’d really have liked was to be in the same situation as the Germans and French. That’s not the reality. On one side you have the Ukrainians, and on the other the separatists supported by the Russians, and you also have the French and Germans playing the role of mediators. But he challenges that role.

Q. – Do you take Vladimir Putin at his word? Why would this ceasefire agreement be respected when, as you were saying, it wasn’t in September?

THE MINISTER – We can’t be sure of anything; that’s why I say: great vigilance. (…)

Q. – Last night alone, while you were in the talks, 50 Russian tanks entered Ukrainian territory via a border post. Is there still a risk of a military escalation between now and Saturday evening?

THE MINISTER – Yes, I’d say both that it’s tragic, with the human consequences it’s having, but also that it’s like this whenever ceasefires are planned: everyone seeks the maximum advantage so as to hold their positions. So the tragic paradox on the human level is that, just before peace, there’s the maximum amount of fighting. (…)

HEAVY WEAPONS’ WITHDRAWAL/OSCE ROLE

Q. – We’ve talked about the ceasefire; there’s also going to be the buffer zone set up, with the combatants withdrawing…

THE MINISTER – Yes, on both sides. The chief aim is for heavy weapons to be withdrawn, because heavy weapons can have a considerable range – 50 kilometres, 70 kilometres. So heavy weapons must be withdrawn on both sides of the ceasefire line. You’ll understand how difficult that is because it means that a number of people will be giving up their positions. Here too, it’s a practical, natural difficulty.

Q. – Who’s going to supervise this military dismantling?

THE MINISTER – The OSCE has to supervise that. It is a body where everyone is represented, with observers. From the – I was going to say, moral – point of view, there’s obviously Germany and France.

Q. – It seems a very unreal agreement when viewed from the Ukranians’ side, from those on the front line. There are deaths every day, civilians dying in the bombardments.

THE MINISTER – Of course!

Q. – What guarantee are you giving them today? What guarantee of peace?

THE MINISTER – The commitment of the two major countries of Germany and France, the Russians’ signature and the fact that Poroshenko himself has had to make an effort. That must be clearly borne in mind: President Poroshenko was elected. He’s taking what I’d say is a relatively moderate line, but a whole section of the public in Ukraine has become increasingly anti-Russian as the conflict has developed. So it’s very difficult for him, too, to sign, because a whole section of the public is saying, even if it’s unreasonable: “We’ve got to go Russian-bashing”. (…)

RUSSIA/SANCTIONS

Q. – And what about the sanctions against Russia? There’s a European summit this evening in Brussels. What is France going to ask? For the threat of sanctions to be maintained or not?

THE MINISTER – For the moment, in the current context, increasing the sanctions wouldn’t make sense. On the other hand, if there hadn’t been an agreement, it’s extremely likely – certain, even – that further sanctions would have been decided. Sanctions are adopted to exert pressure, but there, at the Council taking place this afternoon, there are no further sanctions.

UKRAINE/ECONOMIC AID PLAN

Q. – Does a massive economic aid plan for Ukraine also have to be embarked on, a sort of Marshall Plan? Ukraine is obviously on its last legs, because of the war effort.

THE MINISTER – Yes, that’s planned. The IMF has also released more money and the issue is raised because Ukraine was already in a very difficult situation. Here, obviously, as there’s a conflict, it’s in an even more difficult situation; in particular there are the energy supply problems. So yes, economic support undoubtedly has to be provided.

FRANCE-RUSSIA MISTRAL CONTRACT

Q. – Is the sale of the Mistrals still on hold? No decision on this from the French side?

THE MINISTER – Yes, we’re at the same point and that’s completely understandable. How do you expect the contract signed several years ago to be applied in this context? No, the contract is on hold for the moment./.


Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, in his joint declaration with the Chancellor of Germany

Minsk, February 12, 2015

A week ago, the Chancellor and I took an initiative to find a solution to this over-long Ukrainian conflict. So we had the idea of first going to Kiev, then Moscow, and finally meeting again in the Normandy format here in Minsk. It was a long night and also a long morning, but we reached an agreement on a ceasefire and on a comprehensive political settlement to this Ukrainian conflict.

The ceasefire will take effect at midnight on [the night of 14-] 15 February. The comprehensive settlement will relate to all the issues, from the ceasefire to the end, the control of the border, including decentralization, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, of course, and also the resumption of economic relations. All the issues were dealt with in this text, which was signed by the contact group and by the separatists.
The Chancellor and I pledged, along with President Poroshenko and President Putin, to verify the implementation of this process, i.e. the comprehensive political settlement. I want to pay tribute to all the efforts made over these long hours, and in particular to President Poroshenko, who fully committed his country to settling this conflict, and also President Putin, who exerted as much pressure as was necessary on the separatists.

I particularly want to highlight the Chancellor’s role and the way France and Germany’s approaches complemented each other in this process, which allows Europe also to be fully committed.

This afternoon, we shall be at the European Council. We shall report on the mission we carried out. With President Poroshenko, we shall ensure that Europe itself can support the process. It provides serious hope for Ukraine, even though not everything has been accomplished yet. It’s also a relief for Europe. It’s a fine example of what Germany and France are capable of doing for peace./.


Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, on his arrival at the European Council

Brussels, February 12, 2015

There’s been an agreement. There could have been a failure. But the agreement doesn’t guarantee lasting success in the coming days. For that, we must continue to be vigilant and exert pressure and continue the momentum begun thanks to the initiative the Chancellor and I were able to launch.

So now there’s also the responsibility of those who signed, and the responsibility of the countries that have been particularly mobilized in recent hours. So this is a crucial time, one where an agreement has been reached – I think it’s a glimmer, and more than a glimmer, of hope – and at the same time one where anything could still happen either way, and the coming hours will be decisive.

But even beyond the coming days, it will be very important – and this is also the purpose of this European Council – for us to continue exerting the necessary pressure, [and having] the essential vigilance to bring about peace in Ukraine. But we’d already embarked on this process; I think we’re on the right track.

Thank you./.


Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements¹

Minsk, February 12, 2015

1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12 a.m. local time.

2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of calibre of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS “Tornado-S”, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):

for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;

for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014;

The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day two of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days.

The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.

3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day one of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.

4. Launch a dialogue, on day one of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law.

Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine “On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014.

5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle “all for all”. This process is to be finished on day five after the withdrawal at the latest.

7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.

8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).

To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.

9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day one after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015.

12. Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.
Participants of the Trilateral Contact Group:

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini
Second President of Ukraine, L. D. Kuchma
Ambassador of the Russian Federation
to Ukraine, M. Yu. Zurabov
A.W. Zakharchenko
I.W. Plotnitski

(1) Such measures are, according to the law on the special order for local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions:

Exemption from punishment, prosecution and discrimination for persons involved in the events that have taken place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Right to linguistic self-determination;

Participation of organs of local self-government in the appointment of heads of public prosecution offices and courts in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Possibility for central governmental authorities to initiate agreements with organs of local self-government regarding the economic, social and cultural development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

State supports the social and economic development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Support by central government authorities of cross-border cooperation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with districts of the Russian Federation;

Creation of the people’s police units by decision of local councils for the maintenance of public order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

The powers of deputies of local councils and officials, elected at early elections, appointed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by this law, cannot be early terminated./.

¹ Source of text: Elysée website.


Joint communiqué issued by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, Mr Vladimir Putin, President of Russia and Mr Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine

Minsk, February 12, 2015

The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, the President of Ukraine,
Petro Poroshenko, the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel, reaffirm their full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. They firmly believe that there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful settlement. They are fully committed to undertake all possible individual and joint measures to this end.

Against this background, leaders endorse the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements adopted and signed on 12 February 2015 by all signatories who also signed Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014 and Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014. Leaders will contribute to this process and will use their influence on relevant parties to facilitate the implementation of that Package of Measures.

Germany and France will provide technical expertise for the restoration of the segment of the banking system in the conflict affected areas, possibly through the establishment of an international mechanism to facilitate social transfers.

Leaders share the conviction that improved cooperation between the EU, Ukraine and Russia will be conducive to the crisis settlement. To this end, they endorse the continuation of trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on energy issues in order to achieve follow-up stages to the gas winter package.

They also support trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia in order to achieve practical solutions to concerns raised by Russia with regards to the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

Leaders remain committed to the vision of a joint humanitarian and economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific based upon full respect for international law and the OSCE principles.

Leaders will remain committed to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. To this end, they agree to establish an oversight mechanism in the Normandy format which will convene at regular intervals, in principle on the level of senior officials from the foreign ministries./.

¹ Source of English text: German Chancellor’s website.


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