A detailed discussion of the situation in Donbass, resumption of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and the start of a dialogue on gas are the outcomes of the talks in the Normandy format, which were held yesterday in Paris. The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany gathered for the first time after a three-year hiatus. The participants answered journalists' questions after the summit. Vladimir Putin stated that the peace process in Ukraine is going in the right direction and reminded that according to the Steinmeier formula, agreed upon by the parties beforehand, the separation of forces in the southeast of the country should be done in parallel with political reforms.
Vladimir Putin: "We expect that the separation of forces will be continued step-by-step and mine-clearing and defortification works will be done in the areas of the withdrawal. We should also synchronize the process of reaching a truce and the introduction of political reforms in Ukraine, provided for by the Minsk agreements. First of all, this is about introducing changes to the country's constitution, setting forth a permanent special status for Donbass. Of course, it's necessary to extend the treaty on the special status of certain Donbass regions and ultimately make this provision permanent, as provided for by the Minsk agreements, which I mentioned in the beginning. It's necessary to begin works to introduce amendments to it, first and foremost, concerning the implementation of the so-called Steinmeier formula. It isn't also advisable to delay the fulfillment of other obligations, such as to grant pardons, to prohibit by law criminal prosecution of those taking part in the events in the southeast of the country. In the talks, the idea to organize the exchange of detainees between the aggrieved parties based on the principle of "all identified for all identified".
The French President called the summit successful. Emmanuel Macron thinks that the discussion made it possible to confirm a common goal at the top level, which is to put an end to the conflict, which took thousands of lives.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France: "Our foreign ministers and diplomatic advisors have to work to reinforce security in the region and look for political solutions to organize the local elections for months. We should hold a new summit in the Normandy format where we finalize this work, four months from now. We believe a lot in this work aimed at the restoration of peace. The discussion we held during the meeting, including the untold things, I say that it lets us make significant progress, and we haven't had such progress for about three years".
Angela Merkel also commented on the summit in Paris. She said that the Normandy four agreed on the separation of forces in another three areas at the demarcation line in Donbass. This process should be launched before the spring.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany: "We managed to discuss three core issues, which are the issue of the non-observance of the ceasefire, the issue of the contact line, and the issue of the separation of forces. We set realistic goals, including a ceasefire before the end of 2019, which isn't simple. We also hope that by March of 2020, some changes with respect to Lugansk and Donetsk will take place. It's also very important to ensure the observance of the ceasefire. Most importantly, control over the ceasefire remained for 24 hours, not 12 hours".
The Ukrainian president called the dialogue not simple. According to Vladimir Zelensky, the Russian President discussed every issue in detail. The Ukrainian leader also noted that they decided to prolong the special status for Donbass for a year. He stressed that this is a temporary law.
Vladimir Zelensky, President of Ukraine: “We discussed the release of all captives before December 31st, 2019 based on the principle of "all for all." We need to make complete lists and provide Red Cross representatives with the right of access to captives. We discussed the work of the trilateral contact group, which is to determine new areas for the separation of forces in three settlements. I insisted that Ukraine restore full control over its border. I'm sure that we'll continue discussing this issue at the next meeting, four months from now.