Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to Ukraine on 19 December for political consultations. In Kyiv he had talks with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on the situation in eastern Ukraine and on stabilising the country both economically and financially. During his trip, Steinmeier stressed the importance of the Ukraine Contact Group for the implementation of the Minsk Protocol.
This was his sixth visit to Ukraine this year: Foreign Minister Steinmeier had talks with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on the situation in the country. After the talks, Steinmeier stated that he had great respect for Ukraine’s decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire for the second time on 9 December. The German Foreign Minister went on to say that since then there had been a fall in the number of deaths and injuries and that this was a good sign.
Importance of the Ukraine Contact Group
The Minister added that it was important that the Ukraine Contact Group, which brings representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian Governments as well as the separatists and the OSCE together round one table, meet again.
Steinmeier expressed the hope that the Contact Group would reach concrete agreements on “the exchange of prisoners, the disengagement line and the establishment of the buffer zone”. Looking ahead to the approaching winter, he went on to say it was also important that “agreement is reached on humanitarian assistance for eastern Ukraine”.
The Foreign Minister added:
If there were to be a meeting of the Contact Group and if it were to reach concrete agreements, that would be a sign of hope, especially now in the days leading up to Christmas. I believe we owe that to people throughout Ukraine.
Implementation of the Minsk Protocol
Straight after his arrival, Steinmeier met Heidi Tagliavini, the OSCE Special Representative for Ukraine, at the airport for initial talks on the implementation of the Minsk Protocol towards a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The talks with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk also focused on the situation in eastern Ukraine and on the progress made in implementing the Minsk Protocol. This Protocol addresses steps towards a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the disengagement of the fighters as well as initial moves towards a political solution to the conflict. The Protocol, whose implementation is proving difficult, was agreed upon under the auspices of the OSCE.
After the Minsk Protocol had been signed, the Ukrainian Government declared a ceasefire for the second time on 9 December. During his last visit to Kyiv and Moscow on 18 November, Steinmeier stated his desire to see the Minsk Protocol implemented step by step.
Advancing the economic reform process
The talks also focused on the economic situation in Ukraine and the economic reform process. Steinmeier’s trip to Kyiv shortly before Christmas was also meant to signal solidarity: Germany wanted to continue helping Ukraine as it sought to establish political and economic stability and it therefore supported the European Commission’s proposal on a Compact for Growth.