On the third anniversary of the Minsk peace plan, the Federal Foreign Office called on all parties to the conflict to abide by the agreements. “The state of implementation is far from satisfactory,” a spokesperson said. 12 February 2015 was the day on which the Heads of Government of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France concluded the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements. These measures included not only a ceasefire, but also steps towards a political process, such as local elections in the Donbas and constitutional reform.
The plight of the civilian population
However, the ceasefire has been violated time and again. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives so far. The impact on the civilian population is particularly harsh during the winter months. Many villages are cut off from food deliveries, often for weeks at a time. People also lack coal to heat their homes in sub-zero temperatures.
Negotiations are a cause for hope
The Minsk peace plan could in fact work – as demonstrated by the small steps forward taken thanks to the agreement, even in the face of many setbacks. At the end of December, for example, the two sides exchanged hundreds of prisoners. Stabilising the security situation is the top priority for the Federal Foreign Office. As stipulated in the Minsk peace plan, both sides should first withdraw their heavy weapons from the conflict zone. A potential United Nations peace mission could help achieve this, if it were tasked with supporting the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Germany, together with France, will continue to do its utmost to bring lasting peace to the region by means of fair negotiations. A key role is played in this endeavour by the Normandy format, which brings German, French, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators to the table.