Zelensky likely to extend Donbas special status law, implement Steinmeier formula following Paris summit
Based on the outcomes of the upcoming Normandy-format summit between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine in Paris on December 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be prepared to propose legislation on extending the law currently in effect on a special local self-government procedure in the certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Zelensky's aide Andriy Yermak said.
"Based on the outcomes of the meeting in Paris, the president will be prepared to submit a bill on extending the current law on special status. Then we would be able to make legislative amendments as regards the implementation of the Steinmeier formula," Yermak said at a meeting with Holos party leader Sviatoslav Vakarchuk in London on Thursday, a video from which was circulated by its participants.
The meeting was arranged by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and the Ukrainian Prism Foreign Policy Council.
Ukraine stands ready to implement one of the provisions of the Minsk Agreements, namely, "a constitutional reform based on decentralization," but the country's federalization is unacceptable to Kyiv, Yermak said.
"What is special status and specifics of local self-government? We reject the speculations on Ukraine's federalization, and we will never agree to this. The decentralization reform should result in local government bodies' getting more powers. Before this, ORDLO [the areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions currently not under Kyiv's control] may receive additional powers, which will never mean federalization, or some autonomous republics, or something like that. Just certain districts with local government bodies having extra powers. Territorial integrity is not subject to discussion - this all is Ukrainian territory. This is a border between Russia and Ukraine, where we have our border guards and which is under Ukraine's control," he said.
He voiced plans to hold local elections in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions simultaneously with those in the rest of Ukraine in the fall of 2020.
"We want to hold elections simultaneously around all of Ukraine on October 31, 2020," Yermak said.
"The result of the consideration of the Minsk Agreements is the organization of local elections in ORDLO," he said.
"The elections can be held only in line with Ukrainian law, and Ukraine must control the entire border [with Russia] on election day," Yermak said.