Q. – What do you think of the Minsk agreement? How effective has it been?
THE MINISTER – The Minsk agreement was possible because France and Germany, in the Normandy format, succeeded in persuading Ukraine and Russia to reach an agreement. That agreement is positive, because there was an escalation previously, and there’s been a de-escalation of tension since. We’re continuing to follow this closely, and in a few minutes’ time I’ll be speaking to my Ukrainian and Russian colleagues about it. There’s indisputably a de-escalation, the ceasefire is being observed and the withdrawal of heavy weapons has made considerable progress.
This is broadly recognized on both sides: President Poroshenko made a statement to this effect and the Russians believe there’s been progress. However, tensions remain around Donetsk airport and not far from Mariupol. Meanwhile, the decision has been taken to increase to 1,000 the number of OSCE observers, who play a very useful role, insofar as they can inspect everywhere.
Several issues remain – mainly two: the Minsk agreement says there must be decentralization and institutional change to give the eastern territories more autonomy. As soon as this procedure is carried out, the border between Ukraine and Russia can be freed up and Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty will be restored.
If I had to sum things up, I’d say there’s a genuine improvement but it remains fragile and must be built on; France and Germany are paying close attention to this.
Q. – What’s the situation in the area of Debaltseve? Is it in the separatist territory, enjoying special autonomy?
THE MINISTER – There’s discussion about the geographical territory concerned by this broader autonomy, which is part of the implementation of the Minsk agreement. It’s an issue which must clearly be resolved in the framework of increased decentralization. The Russians and the separatists must each prepare to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. (…)./.