Highly topical and dangerous
“Last year, we witnessed the most violent months in eastern Ukraine since the signing of the Minsk agreements,” said Gabriel prior to his departure for Kyiv. The conflict in the east of the country has lasted for four years and has claimed more than 10,000 lives to date. The fighting has had a devastating impact on people in the region, especially in the winter months. There is a lack of coal for heating as well as insufficient water and food.
“It is with this in mind that I am flying to Kyiv today and then to Mariupol tomorrow, in order to make it clear to the people in Ukraine that we will not abandon them,” Gabriel continued. “For us, this conflict is neither frozen nor forgotten, but is highly topical and dangerous. We will continue to do our utmost to achieve a solution to this crisis that will bring peace to the region at long last.”
Signs of hope in the conflict
There were two recent signs of hope in the conflict in the form of an exchange of hundreds of prisoners and the agreement of a Christmas truce. This progress must now be continued in order to further the implementation of the Minsk agreements and to find a solution to the crisis in the region. It is with this in mind that Gabriel will meet members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and hold talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin in Kyiv.
A first important step is to stabilise the security situation and to withdraw heavy weapons from the region. A possible UN peace mission in the Donbas will also be discussed.
Ukraine’s reform policy
Alongside the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the country’s reform policy will also be on the agenda of the political talks in Kyiv. Since the Maidan revolution, a great deal has been achieved and major changes have been made. The country has initiated courageous reforms and set important parameters for the future. An association agreement with the EU entered into force in 2017 and visa procedures were liberalised. The path of reform is set to be continued, especially with regard to the fight against corruption. Ukraine can count on Germany’s support also in this area.