Joint, results-oriented work in Paris and Minsk

Participants of the negotiations on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis hold a brainstorming session
Heads of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs under the ‘Normandy Format’ have gathered in Paris, while a contact group and three working subgroups have assembled in Minsk. Martin Sajdik, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, has joined the Minsk team of negotiators as a full member for the first time.

Martin Sajdik replaced Heidi Tagliavini

Replacing Heidi Tagliavini, Sajdik is a very experienced diplomat with a wide spectrum of knowledge: from international law to multilateral relations. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross have, for the first time, expressed their intention of participating in the trilateral group’s work, which features experienced diplomats and is supported by Red Cross workers. This continues the traditions of the Minsk process; from the very beginning, it has followed objective principles regarding Ukrainian events.

“Worldwide, everyone understands that there is no better platform for a range of perspectives than that in Minsk,” notes Kiev representative Leonid Kuchma. He believes that the contact group is facing difficulties, noting that ‘it stumbles and falls, yet still moves forward’. Of negotiations, he believes that they ‘show the clear road to peace’. The ‘Normandy Format’ stands behind the contact group, offering its support.

The meeting of ministers in Paris is hopeful that Minsk arrangements made on February 12th will receive practical realisation, since Europe has no other plan. However, time passes, as one participant of the ministerial meeting pointed out, underlining that .it’s necessary to achieve results more quickly, to bring events to a close’.

On the eve of the Paris meeting, the presidents of Russia and France and the Chancellor of Germany chatted by phone on the ‘need to exert pressure on both sides of the conflict’. Certain expectations are connected with the new representative of the OSCE, whose political premiere took place in Minsk.

Sessions of three subgroups have met to discuss settling the situation in the east of Ukraine, concerning political, humanitarian and economic problems. There are many pressing issues to consider. Some are connected with restoring destroyed infrastructure, reconstructing the banking system, and making grants to Donbass. It is clear that we must work, foremost, on issues vitally important to public welfare, and the efficiency of such work directly depends on political progress: constitutional reform and decentralisation of power in Ukraine, guaranteed by the Minsk arrangements.

The most urgent themes on the agenda are connected with saving lives. The Red Cross is eager to help in seeking out and identifying missing people, and helping control the legal transfer of aid from international humanitarian missions.

By Nina Vasilieva
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