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Ukraine/Russia

Published on October 8, 2014
Press conference given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Tokyo, October 5, 2014

(…)

Q. – In Ukraine, the separatists seem to have won. What’s your strategy now?

THE MINISTER – You probably know that there’s a general election in Ukraine on 26 October. For the moment, the president is Mr Poroshenko, but an election is scheduled throughout Ukraine. There was an interesting, positive agreement in Minsk adopted between Ukraine, the OSCE and the so-called separatists. We think this 12-point agreement is good; it now has to be honoured. In this agreement there’s the ceasefire, but not only that. There’s also the fact that in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, an election is scheduled. The rebels signed this agreement, but now they’re not abiding by it. The ceasefire is more or less being observed but let’s say that the situation, although far from being totally stabilized, is less acute than it was a few weeks ago.

We’ll see what happens with the election. As soon as the election has taken place, we’ll have on the one hand a president, Mr Poroshenko, who was elected, and on the other a parliament with full legitimacy to move forward.

At the same time, as you know, there’s an Association Agreement which, in its economic aspect, has been postponed and won’t be applied until the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016. And there are also talks under way between the different parties. Some of the rebels are still not accepting this system. But we – France and the European Union – are in favour of a free and independent Ukraine whose territorial integrity is respected. That’s the stage we’re at.

And there are also discussions to resolve the difficult issue of gas. In recent days there have been ups and downs, but we’d genuinely like to move towards an agreement – which is clearly also an agreement with Russia – to allow gas to be supplied this winter.

France has taken the same stance from the outset. We think Ukraine must have good relations with both the EU and Russia. Geography decides, determines and necessitates this. We say it’s necessary to take a firm stance towards Russia, because there are things that are unacceptable. You can’t accept one country annexing a region of another, Crimea. You can’t accept one country having soldiers in another which doesn’t want them. There have been sanctions because this behaviour is unacceptable, but on the other hand dialogue is also necessary because we want the situation to improve. France is behind the dialogue process known as the Normandy process, which, when necessary, brings together Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

Q. – The sale of the Mistral to Russia has been suspended until November. It’s now October; what will you do in a month’s time?

THE MINISTER – Regarding the Mistral, the President has set out our position. A contract was signed in 2011, at the time of M. Sarkozy’s presidency. That contract was signed, and when contracts are signed the rule is for them to be honoured. But clearly it can be honoured only if, on the one hand, the ceasefire is observed and, on the other, a political solution is initiated. When the President spoke – it was a few days ago – he said those conditions hadn’t been met. We’re still at the same point. We’d like those conditions to be met but today, as we speak, they haven’t yet been met. But I hope they will be met. (…)./.

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