German FM says ‘significant progress’ made in Ukraine talks

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier says ‘significant progress’ made in talks with French, Russian, Ukrainian counterparts on conflict in eastern Ukraine

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Foreign ministers (L-R) Sergei Lavrov of Russia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, Laurent Fabius of France and Pavlo Klimkin of Ukraine pose for a picture ahead of their meeting at the German foreign ministry's Villa Borsig at lake Tegel in Berlin, Ger

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “significant progress” made toward a resolution for the conflict in eastern Ukraine, following a meeting with Russian, Ukrainian and French counterparts in Berlin.

Steinmeier said that warring sides were close to strike an agreement over the withdrawal of weapons from the frontlines and emphasized the importance of strengthening the current ceasefire.

"We all reaffirmed that the ceasefire which has been kept for two weeks now needs to be further consolidated and secured," Steinmeier said.

Ukrainian army forces and pro-Russian rebels have been abiding the terms of a recent ceasefire since Sept. 1, according to Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Speaking to TRT World in an interview, spokesperson of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Michael Bociurkiw said that “we are hopeful that his current calm is sustainable and it remains in place.”

Echoing the words of Steinmeier, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said that "so the cease-fire now has being holding for more than 10 days and that's good news, because that is opening now the space to make progress on a political level," following his visit to southeastern city of Mariupol, which has been the scene of fiercest clashes.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine started in April 2014 after protests led to ouster of then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and pro-Russian rebels in the east declared independence in Donetsk and Luhansk.

According to the UN, an estimated 8,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

The sides signed a ceasefire agreement in February in Minsk but clashes continued in several places as both sides accused each other of violating the terms of ceasefire.

Leaders of Germany, Russia, France and Ukraine are set to come together in a summit next month in Paris for talks aimed at finding a resolution for the conflict.

Ukraine is to hold local elections on Oct. 25, but the central government and the separatists could not agree on how to hold them as separatists in Donetsk, and Luhansk said that they would hold their own votes on Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, respectively.

The Ukrainian government said that the elections under separatist control would be in violation of the ceasefire agreement.

Steinmeier said there is a tentative agreement that the elections in eastern Ukraine should be held on a common legal framework and under the supervision of the OSCE.

OSCE Secretary General Zannier said that they were ready to send international observers to the elections in rebel held areas if "the Ukrainian government tells us 'yes, those elections are based on Ukrainian law.'"


TRTWorld and agencies