Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has retracted his rejections about eastern Ukraine's regional autonomy which he made on July 1, saying he is willing to hold a referendum if needed.
Poroshenko had previously rejected a demand for autonomy in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the country’s east, or even adopt a federal government system.
However, after meeting with the Parliamentary Committee, Poroshenko agreed to the demands he had rejected in the past, accepting a possible referendum.
“I’m ready to launch a referendum on the issue of state governance if you decide it is necessary,” he said.
According to the United Nations, in the year-old ongoing conflict, more than 6,000 people have reportedly died. The rebels are reputed to get help from Russia, which denies playing a role in the conflict.
After formed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country following months of pro-EU demonstrations in Kiev in February 2014, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine demanded more autonomy for their region, a request that was not fulfilled. The rebels have been fighting the government ever since.
The president stated that security, defence, and foreign policy issues will still depend on the government’s decisions.
Poroshenko proceeded to say the constitutional change was supported by the United States as well as the French and German leaders.
According to Washington’s State Department representative Marie Harf, the changes introduced by Poroshenko aim to “bring the government closer to the people and to strengthen regional and local institutions."