Minsk talks must resume to rapidly advance peace efforts, Swiss Chair says
Bern, December 26, 2014 – Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE-Chairperson-in-Office, Didier Burkhalter, expressed his expectation that the meeting between the Trilateral Contact Group (consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Chairmanship) and representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, scheduled for today in Minsk, would take place without further delay. He took note that this meeting, which had been planned as a follow-up to the Minsk meeting of December 24, has not come about as yet.
Burkhalter welcomed news indicating progress regarding the release of hostages and illegally detained persons.
The purpose of the two meetings scheduled for December 24 and 26, which had been agreed by the leaders of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Germany and France during a telephone conversation in the so-called Normandy format earlier this week, was to make further progress in four key areas of the Minsk arrangements, namely on the implementation of the ceasefire and a disengagement plan, the release of all hostages and detained persons, humanitarian aid to be delivered to the affected areas and some economic questions. At their meeting on December 24 in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group and the representatives of certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk had discussed all these issues in preparation for today‘s meeting at which all the signatories of the Minsk arrangements were expected to take part in person.
The CiO reminded all sides involved that the Minsk Protocol of September 5 and the Memorandum of September 19 continue to serve as the basic framework and reference point for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and must be implemented in their entirety and in good faith. He notably stressed that one of the preconditions for settling all military, political, economic and social aspects of the conflict was to fully implement all the provisions of the Memorandum on the implementation of the ceasefire, including the annex to the Memorandum.
Burkhalter called on all sides to redouble recent efforts undertaken to find common solutions to facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn region. He concluded by calling it the duty of all parties involved to do their utmost to fully observe the ceasefire and avoid any further casualties.