Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement on 10 May with regard to the meeting of the German, French, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers to be held in the Normandy format the following day:
Here in Berlin tomorrow, we will meet the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Ukraine in the Normandy format for the twelfth time.
German and French foreign policy has invested a lot of time and energy in mediating in the conflict over eastern Ukraine and preventing military escalation or, in any event, open war in the middle of Europe.
The latter endeavour has been successful at least. Compare the initial security situation with what it is today and you will see that, while not yet satisfactory, it has nonetheless become significantly less risky than it was a year ago. It is also true, however, that we have been pushing for months, without real success, to persuade Moscow, Kyiv and the separatists to continue implementing the agreements they themselves concluded in Minsk. If any progress at all as been made on this – on the political solution – then it has been a snail, edging forwards by mere millimetres.
Things cannot go on like this. This is not the way to make a lasting ceasefire take hold. I therefore hope that tomorrow’s meeting can bring about progress on security, on preparations for the local elections and on security arrangements for those local elections, so that we can avoid a return to escalating tensions.
One thing is for sure: the Minsk process cannot be extended indefinitely. Tomorrow therefore needs to bring not only the conflict parties’ clearly expressed commitment to the Minsk process but also, and primarily, progress on implementing it.