At the Ukraine conference held at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 2 July, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his counterparts from France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on important steps towards a sustainable ceasefire.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin met at the Federal Foreign Office on Wednesday for intensive discussions on ways to calm the situation in Ukraine. They agreed on a series of points intended to prevent further escalation in violence in eastern Ukraine and to pave the way for a ceasefire.
Steps towards a ceasefire should be implemented quickly
In the subsequent press conference, Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the outcome of the discussions:
It is a first step towards a mutualy agreed ceasefire and an opportunity we should grasp with both hands. The task now will be to implement the points agreed upon as quickly as possible.
The quadripartite talks were arranged at the initiative of the German Foreign Minister. Steinmeier stated, “Given the dramatic situation, it was not a given that we would be able to conduct difficult, intensive, serious and constructive talks here in Berlin.”
Steinmeier went on to say that the situation in eastern Ukraine had escalated dramatically in the previous 48 hours. It was therefore necessary to seize any opportunity to bring about a de-escalation, he added. At the same time, the German Foreign Minister warned against unreasonable expectations and stated, “This is not the solution to all of the problems or a magic formula which will put everything right overnight.” However, the agreement presented an opportunity, Steinmeier stated, for everyone involved to work together to prevent an escalation and to end the bloodshed.
Return to the tripartite Contact Group
In a joint declaration, the Ministers confirmed their commitment to a mutually agreed sustainable ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The Foreign Ministers said that the talks in the tripartite Contact Group made up of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE should be resumed in Ukraine to this end. The Contact Group should meet by Saturday (5 July) at the latest with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed sustainable ceasefire.
Furthermore, the Ministers want to make possible the deployment of OSCE observers at border checkpoints. Russia stated its readiness to grant Ukrainian border guards access to border checkpoints on Russian territory.
The Ministers called on all participants to ensure that the OSCE can carry out its duties in a safe environment. They also stressed the importance of the release of all hostages in their joint declaration.
Intensive diplomatic efforts
The meeting in Berlin was preceded by intensive diplomatic efforts. As early as Sunday, Foreign Minister Steinmeier was negotiating with all parties on steps to defuse the situation. Steinmeier expressed his disappointment on Monday after no solution was found and the situation in eastern Ukraine escalated once more. However, he stated that he was still convinced a political solution to the crisis was possible in the long term. In the course of numerous telephone conversations, he succeeded on Tuesday in arranging for the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Russia, as well as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to come to Berlin at short notice for joint talks.
The Ukraine conference in Berlin is part of intensive diplomatic efforts by the Foreign Minister and the German Government to help defuse the situation. To this end, Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled last week (24 June) to Kyiv to gain a first-hand impression of the current situation in the country.
For more information on this trip click here.