Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin at the Federal Foreign Office today (8 September). Their talks focused on the situation in Ukraine and the state of play as regards implementing the Minsk agreements.
Close cooperation on domestic reforms
Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his Ukrainian counterpart meet very frequently these days. They met last week at the Informal Meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Potsdam and again today when Klimkin visited the Federal Foreign Office. After their meeting today, Steinmeier underlined that Ukraine can count on Germany’s support in implementing the domestic reform agenda. “We want an independent, democratic and thriving Ukraine, where the rule of law applies, a Ukraine that can live in peace with its neighbours.” German experts were thus in close contact with their Ukrainian counterparts, with the aim of helping to implement the reforms, be they in the field of state and administration, resource efficiency, infrastructure, the rule of law or the fight against corruption. “We plan to continue this wide-ranging support in the future,” Steinmeier added.
Fragile situation in eastern Ukraine
The situation in eastern Ukraine was also a key topic on the agenda of today’s talks. “Both of us were glad that it was possible to agree on a ceasefire for the start of the new school year. This came into effect on 1 September and was upheld in the first few days,” Steinmeier said. However, the overall situation remained fragile. In recent days, there had been an increased number of violations of the ceasefire. “This is why we cannot allow ourselves to ease off and reduce our efforts to bring about greater stability,” Steinmeier said.
Much remains to be done to implement the Minsk agreement
With regard to the Minsk process, Steinmeier said that a framework agreement on disengaging the opposing troops had still not been reached. There had also been repeated setbacks as regards the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Furthermore, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine had still not been granted full access. There had been long phases of standstill both as regards the security situation and the political dimension of the Minsk agreement. “We know that a lot of work is still needed,” Steinmeier said. “We cannot be satisfied with the level of implementation of the Minsk agreement.” In the coming weeks,attempts must be made to resolve the outstanding issues, including those related to disengaging the troops, in order to stabilise the ceasefire. Above all, a willingness to compromise was needed on all sides.
Visit to Ukraine with the French Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister Steinmeier announced that he would visit Ukraine next week with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault. This would provide “an opportunity to talk in Kyiv with all those involved and hopefully to make progress in the coming weeks in implementing the Minsk agreement”. Foreign Minister Klimkin welcomed this announcement and thanked Steinmeier for his support in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. The situation in eastern Ukraine was one of the main topics on the agenda at last Thursday’s Informal Meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers.
Promoting interpersonal exchange
The two Foreign Ministers also announced that it had proved possible to retain Germany’s last Chair in Ukrainian Studies, at the University of Greifswald, thanks to help from the Federal Foreign Office. It had now been decided to hold a Year of the Ukrainian Language in Germany and a Year of the German Language in Ukraine together in the coming years. This will be a way to bring the people of the two countries even closer together and to foster exchange, particularly among young people.