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.
A deal to establish a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, called the Minsk Protocol, was signed on 5 September 2014. The agreement was drawn-up by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which consisted of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE.
In the two weeks after the Minsk Protocol was signed, there were frequent violations of the ceasefire by both parties to the conflict. Talks continued in Minsk, and a follow-up to the Minsk Protocol was agreed to on 19 September 2014.
A new package of measures meant to stop fighting in the Donbass, Minsk II, was agreed to on 12 February 2015 by the between the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine (the so-called Normandy format), after 17 hour of negotiations.
The four leaders committed to respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a joint declaration.
On 2 March 2015, European leaders said that they agreed that the OSCE needed a broader role as observers of the ceasefire, and weapons removal.
On 2 October 2015, the leaders of the Normandy format admitted that it would take time to organise elections in Ukraine which respect international standards and as a result, the so-called Minsk peace process would run into next year.
The EU placed friendly pressure on Kyiv to deliver on the Minsk agreements. Ukraine’s position is that as long as numerous ceasefire violations by Moscow-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine continue to occur, it is impossible to talk about political decentralisation of Donetsk and Lugansk, and local elections.
- President of Ukraine: Президент Украины провел телефонный разговор в «Нормандском формате»
- The Kremlin: Телефонный разговор сАнгелой Меркель, Франсуа Олландом и Петром Порошенко
- Elysée: Entretien en format Normandie