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Ukraine/Russia/New Year greetings to the diplomatic corps

Published on January 21, 2015
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, January 16, 2015

(…)

Acting for peace is also what France is doing in Europe because there is a conflict on the European continent. The crisis in Ukraine. For months now I have been closely involved alongside Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, in seeking a solution and working to get a return to peace and a humanitarian situation which stops deteriorating.

Here again, the conditions for resolving the crisis are known: the complete implementation of the Minsk Protocol adopted on 5 September 2014. Since that date, we have unfortunately seen the situation deteriorate with a failure to observe the ceasefire, and deaths – many deaths.

For several weeks now, other, more encouraging signals have been sent out, despite continuing deaths in eastern Ukraine. A new ceasefire came into force on 9 December. Prisoners were exchanged at Christmas. The ministers of foreign affairs met in Normandy format a few days ago with a view to a meeting in Astana, not only with Germany and France but also with Ukraine and Russia.

The priority must be to ensure a successful meeting in Astana. But we shall not be meeting simply to place our observations on record. There will be no meeting in Astana unless there are results.

We have several objectives. Firstly, clear definition of the line of demarcation, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and detailed arrangements for the supply of humanitarian aid to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Additionally, elections in eastern Ukraine to allow all sides to be represented in due accordance with Ukrainian law.

Such conditions are not out of reach and we must work on this. That is what I am doing in very harmonious agreement with the Chancellor because we are directly concerned, and because we are also committed to Europe and Russia regaining relations of trust and having shared prospects for development too.

Because this conflict is very costly. It is costly in human terms first and foremost given the substantial deterioration in Ukraine’s situation. It is costly politically given the distancing that has occurred and the sanctions that have been applied. It is economically costly not only for Russia but for the entire region, as well as for Europe. It is therefore time, high time, that an agreement was found.

I travelled to Moscow for discussions with President Putin because France has a historical relationship with Russia and we must use that bond so that Russia returns to the relationship I still wish to consolidate between Europe and that great nation. However, Russia must also make the essential gestures expected of it. We are working on this but it is now a responsibility President Putin must exercise. (…)./.

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