The conflict in the Donbass has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine: over 1.4 million people have lost their homes since 2014, and more than 13,000 have died in the eastern part of the country. Prior to his departure for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Maas said:
We want to make more rapid progress in the Minsk process – that is why I am travelling to Kyiv today. My visit falls on Independence Day in Ukraine, and I would like to take this opportunity to offer all Ukrainian citizens my heartfelt congratulations! This day is a particular incentive for us to continue to work intensively on finding a solution to the existing conflicts, especially in eastern Ukraine.
Ways to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine
That is why Foreign Minister Maas wants to talk today with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Shmyhal and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba about the next steps towards resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The parties to the conflict have much work to do to arrive at a political solution to the conflict. Since last summer, the Ukrainian Government has made painful compromises to bring some movement into the long-entrenched conflict. That helped calm the deadly conflict in the east of the country and brought progress for the people.
The OSCE is continuing to work with Russia and Ukraine on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Germany and France are mediating between Russia and Ukraine in the Normandy format to maintain the dynamic for a solution. As a result, some elements of the conclusions of the Normandy summit in Paris have been implemented since December 2019.
Longest ceasefire since 2014
For the first time, an agreed ceasefire has been observed for several weeks, since the end of July. No ceasefire has lasted this long since the conflict erupted in 2014. So that the ceasefire persists, Foreign Minister Maas will also talk with his Ukrainian counterpart about what form a mechanism to pursue violations of the ceasefire might take.
Mine clearance has been advancing this summer, and new crossing points are to be set up along the more than 400 kilometres of the contact line. These measures will make life easier for the people there and also give grounds for hope that further politically tricky issues will be tackled.
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission: Building confidence through controls
During his trip, Foreign Minister Maas will also meet representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, whose work is absolutely vital for finding a solution to the conflict: only where there are independent, neutral observers as an impartial body can the necessary trust evolve between the conflict parties. Foreign Minister Maas commented:
I will also meet representatives from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. Its work as an independent observer and impartial body remains immensely important.
Continuing reforms and expanding bilateral cooperation
During his talks in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Maas will also address the significant endeavours towards reform being undertaken by the Ukrainian Government: progress is key, particularly in the fields of justice and anti-corruption, to freeing up important investment for Ukraine.
Both areas are also important for economic cooperation between Germany and Ukraine and for bilateral investment projects. Germany is the world’s biggest bilateral donor to Ukraine: since 2014 it has made available 1.2 billion euro to support the country’s economy, culture, reform projects in the administration and social concerns.