Foreign Minister Steinmeier concerned about the fragile ceasefire in eastern Ukraine
Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (29 December) on the implementation of the Minsk agreements as regards the situation in eastern Ukraine:
The fact that the number of ceasefire violations increased again in eastern Ukraine over the Christmas period, rather than decreased, is a worrying development as the year ends.
I thus welcome the initiative taken by the Trilateral Contact Group and moved forward by Ambassador Martin Sajdik to renew the ceasefire over Christmas and the New Year. I urgently call on all sides to now adhere strictly to the ceasefire in the interests of the people in the conflict areas.
All of this shows that although the situation in eastern Ukraine is no longer in the headlines, there is no reason to rest on one’s laurels. It is true that at the start of this year, we were close to the outbreak of war. Thanks to the Minsk agreements, it was possible to prevent this.
Over the course of the year, significant progress has been achieved on military de‑escalation and the withdrawal of weapons. At the meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group and its four working groups in Minsk, headway is being made on a difficult but now sustainable political process. There has also been concrete progress on economic and social affairs.
Nevertheless, many important questions remain unresolved. The ceasefire has turned increasingly fragile. Agreement has still not been reached on a special law on local elections in the parts of the Donbas currently under separatist control. The humanitarian situation in these areas has deteriorated sharply in recent months, causing further suffering to local people.
This much is clear: In the coming year, we will continue to do our utmost to support the implementation of the Minsk package of measures within the framework of the Normandy format and in line with the timetable agreed by the Heads of State and Government at the Normandy format meeting in Paris on 2 October.
This means that we must continue working to ensure that local elections take place at the beginning of 2016 and that the Minsk package of measures be implemented in its entirety, including through the restoration of Ukraine’s complete control over its national borders.
We call upon all sides to now implement urgent humanitarian measures, to release all prisoners and hostages, to lift all restrictions on the registration of aid organisations in the Donbas and to restore the water supply in the Donbas.