“The guns must fall silent” – Foreign Ministers hold virtual Normandy-format meeting on Ukraine

Foreign Minister Maas in virtual Normandy-format meeting

Foreign Minister Maas in virtual Normandy-format Meeting, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

30.04.2020 - Article

The Foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France have discussed the implementation of the conclusions of the last summit in Paris, with the aim of achieving tangible progress for the people in eastern Ukraine.

Since 2014, an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has caused great suffering to the people in the region. Working together in the Normandy format, Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France laid down a road map for resolving the conflict in the form of the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015. Since the last Normandy-format summit in December 2019, implementation has not progressed as desired. However, two successful prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine were signs of tangible progress.

Situation worsened by the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis

Conflict‑ridden eastern Ukraine has not been spared the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. Despite UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for a worldwide ceasefire, the situation has continued to deteriorate for people in the region. The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is still being broken.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented as follows:

We need a lasting, real and verifiable ceasefire. Only when the guns truly fall silent can we pool our resources to tackle the challenge of the hour.

Safeguarding humanitarian access

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, crossing points along the contact line between areas under government and separatist control have been closed to the civilian population in eastern Ukraine, thus tearing families apart and drastically curtailing essential supplies of cash, food and medicines. The Foreign Ministers discussed how further crossing points can be created and how humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross and relevant UN agencies can be given unimpeded access to the occupied territories.

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine must be able to perform its mandate

The civilian OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) plays a key role in verifying implementation of the Minsk agreements and adherence to the ceasefire. Its work has become considerably more difficult due to the separatists’ refusal to grant access. It is important that the SMM can resume its work and that a judicious balance between health protection and performing its mandate be established.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented as follows:

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission must also be able to work unimpeded in the separatist territories. Healthcare in the pandemic must certainly not be used to conceal other less noble intentions.


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