Normandy format meeting in Berlin – Steinmeier: Progress towards enhancing security in eastern Ukraine
Following the meeting of the German, French, Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers held in the Normandy format in Villa Borsig, Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement on 11 May:
For the first time, our talks in the Normandy format in Villa Borsig ended in the afternoon and not in the middle of the night.
However, that does not mean that we reached a breakthrough today or that we were able to resolve all the outstanding issues before dusk. Once again, at our twelfth meeting, we had difficult discussions and there were some tough exchanges between our colleagues from Moscow and Kyiv.
I believe it was important – and right – to meet today.
I have to admit, however, that the results we achieved are, at best, a mixed bag.
And yet, we made progress in some quite crucial points regarding security:
We agreed that we wanted to do everything, indeed must do everything, we can to consolidate the ceasefire, which has more or less held since Easter.
To help achieve this, we have agreed on a whole series of concrete measures which should now be swiftly implemented. These include:
1. The disengagement of forces along the line of contact with a view to establishing demilitarised zones with concrete coordinates and deadlines;
2. The completion of the agreed complete withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact;
3. A ban on military exercises in the conflict area, which have heightened the tensions time and again;
4. Expansion of the contacts between the parties to the conflict and an exchange of information at the line of contact in order to prevent a military escalation through early warning and prevention;
5. Complete transparency of all these steps, which are to be monitored and verified by the OSCE observer mission on the basis of the sensible proposals put forward by the OSCE for improved monitoring and security;
6. All of this – and this agreement is new –should be worked out in detail, actively supported and monitored via a consultation mechanism in collaboration with the OSCE observer mission and military experts.
If these measures were to ensure a truly lasting and robust ceasefire, that would be a genuinely big step forward and would provide a basis on which swift progress could be made in all other issues.
I would like to expressly thank my colleague from Moscow and Kyiv and their teams for their good proposals and their constructive approach in the question of security – and, at the same time, to call upon them in all earnest to quickly start implementing them.
However, it also has to be said that the political process is still deadlocked. Once again, we were unable to make any really substantial progress on the key questions relating to the political process of the Minsk agreements.
II. Security of local elections
There are still many unresolved issues when it comes to ensuring security during the local elections. At least we discussed the detailed good proposals put forward by the OSCE at great length today and agreed that the observer mission should now work with us to bring them closer to realisation in line with future developments.
III. Local elections
In the key question of the local elections themselves, it is evidently especially difficult to make headway. That is regrettable but not surprising in view of the importance of the elections, the many months of consultations in the Contact Group without reaching agreement and the many difficult constitutional, political and technical issues.
At least we were able today for the first time to discuss the matter on the basis of concrete proposals for a local election law. And we have tasked the Contact Group with continuing the discussions on the basis of a Ukrainian concept with Russian proposals.
We will have to wait and see whether this makes it possible to take real steps towards local elections. In the Contact Group, the negotiations can hopefully now be continued more quickly and in a more structured fashion.
Much of what we discussed today were details – however, they are important details based on a clear commitment to the Minsk agreements without which we cannot make any progress on the further implementation of the agreements.
No headway will be made without the willingness to compromise on the part of the parties to the conflict. I presume that Kyiv and Moscow are also aware of that.
The results of our meeting are thus a mixed bag and they will now have to be implemented in many places.
I am pleased that Moscow and Kyiv were prepared today to work together more closely in the security sphere.
For in eastern Ukraine security is not everything – yet without security there is nothing.