The leaders of the Normandy Four countries: Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine, held a telephone conversation early today (24 May) over the issue of improving OSCE monitoring in eastern Ukraine.
The first talks in the so-called ‘Normandy format’ between François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko were held on the occasion of the celebration of D-Day, in Normandy, in June 2014.
Poroshenko and Putin’s press releases differ in their accounts of what was discussed and agreed on. The Kremlin press release speaks of “increasing the efficiency in the conflict zone of the special monitoring mission of the OSCE by conferring it greater prerogatives, as well as strengthening the joint centre for control and coordination”.
The Kremlin document also stresses that a key element of settling the conflict should be “the direct contact between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk with the purpose of full and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements from 12 February 2015”.
It is also mentions that the Russian side has given its Normandy format partners a package agreed on with the authorities of Donetsk and Lugansk, with proposals concerning the holding of local elections, the special status of the territory, an amnesty and decentralisation.
Conversely, the Ukrainian presidency press release only says that the leaders of Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia have expressed support for the deployment of the OSCE police mission in Donbass, and the beginning of consultations on the issue.
The Ukrainian document focuses on the worsening of the situation, specifically in Avdeyevka, a suburb of Donetsk, quoting Poroshenkho as saying that this was an impediment for progress in the peace process.
Poroshenko is also reported to have said that Russia should withdraw its troops from the occupied part of Ukraine, and to stop supplying weapons to rebels, and sending mercenaries. He also drew attention to the need to restore control over the Ukrainian-Russian border.
Regarding the holding of elections, the Ukrainian press release stresses the need to create “security conditions for the holding of local elections in some regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions on the basis of Ukrainian legislation and norms of the OSCE / ODIHR”.
Poroshenko called on Russia to release all Ukrainian hostages, including Nadia Savchenko, Gennady Afanasiev, Yuri Soloshenko.
The Ukrainian president is also reported to have called the constant violation of the rights of Crimean Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea “unacceptable”, urging Russia to stop the persecution immediately, and to release all political prisoners.