Leaders agree to delay Ukraine local elections until 2016

French President Francois Hollande after talks in Paris says local elections in Ukraine will be postponed until next year in order to prepare legal infrastructure

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

(R-L, clockwise) French President, Francois Hollande, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko attend a meeting in Paris, France, October 2, 2015.

French President Francois Hollande on Friday said elections in eastern Ukraine will be postponed until next year to assure the legitimacy and the security of the process.

Hollande said “We don't want elections to get held in eastern Ukrainian territories under conditions that would not respect Minsk." He added that the elections "must be held according to Ukraine's electoral law."

The French president’s remarks came following a meeting between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Paris to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Both Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a new electoral law would be passed in Ukraine, therefore 90 days needed to get ready for the election process.

German leader Merkel said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is committed to working towards ensuring the conditions agreed in the Minsk accord.

“Russian president committed to working towards ... establishing the conditions that would allow elections to take place according to Minsk, based on Ukrainian law, in a coordinated fashion between the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk and the Ukrainian government,” Merkel said.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov also affirmed that all four leaders agreed to uphold their commitments to the Minsk accord and defined the meeting as “businesslike.”

The four countries in February agreed to end the conflict between the Ukrainian Government and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, following the talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

According to the ceasefire, which was just one of the parts of the February agreement, weapons of over 100 mm calibre had to be withdrawn from the frontline. The ceasefire later faced obstacles because of violations from the both sides.

However, recently there have been signs of progress. Ukrainian Army forces and pro-Russian rebels, since Sept. 1 have been abiding to the terms of a recent ceasefire.

Following the meeting, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on Saturday that in 41 days his administration would begin withdrawing tanks and many weapons.

The pull-back agreement is expected to reduce the attacks on civilians. Poroshenko’s office said this means “truce,” however it also added that “the war will be over when the last piece of the Ukrainian land has been liberated."

Poroshenko described how he feels about the recent developments as "cautious optimism," Interfax Ukraine reported.

TRTWorld and agencies