Yermak informs Berlin that Russia-occupation armed forces in Donbas continue using prohibited weapons, of 33 Ukrainian soldiers killed in December
Ukraine is grateful to the German side for their support in the framework of the Normandy format to resolve the situation in Donbas, as well as for supporting reforms in the country, said head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak following the visit of the Ukrainian delegation to Berlin on June 2.
According to the press service of the President's Office, representatives of Ukraine and Germany discussed bilateral cooperation and exchanged experiences on countering the coronavirus pandemic at the meetings. Particular attention was paid to joint efforts to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine.
The parties discussed the status of implementation of the agreements reached at the Normandy Four summit in Paris in December 2019. At a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Yermak told about the details of the negotiations within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, informed about updating the composition and raising the status of the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG.
"Ukraine finds itself in sharp disagreement with the slowness of moving forward in the Minsk format. Therefore, we are doing everything possible to make negotiations more efficient. We have not only proposed holding meetings in the format of video conferences in the 24/7 mode, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has substantially expanded the Ukrainian delegation as part of Minsk group and raised the status of its members," said the head of the President's Office in Berlin.
The parties agreed that since the December Summit of the Normandy Four, tangible progress has been made in the mutual release of detainees.
"We noted progress in the release of prisoners. However, the move towards the next mutual release, unfortunately, has been slowed down. And not only because of the coronavirus epidemic, but the specific non-fulfillment by the other side of the agreement of the Normandy summit in Paris on the admission of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to places of detention of hostages in the temporarily occupied territories," said Yermak.
During talks with German Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Yermak noted that in order to accelerate progress towards peace, it is necessary, in particular, to take measures to implement a full and comprehensive ceasefire, which has not been implemented yet.
"We conveyed our concern to our partners that perhaps the most important condition for moving towards peace has not been fulfilled - shelling has not stopped yet! More than 1,500 shelling attacks have been recorded by illegal armed groups since December 19 of last year to May 29 of the current year. Over this period of time, 33 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 235 were injured. The mercenaries continue to use weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements," Yermak said.
He noted that Russia and the illegal armed groups controlled by it should provide the OSCE SMM observers with safe and reliable access to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. "It is also important that the parties implement the updated mine clearance plan and continue the process of the disengagement of forces and means during verification by the OSCE SMM. These agreements of the Normandy summit should also be implemented," the statement reads.
In addition, they noted the need to open new checkpoints through the disengagement line, taking into account, first of all, humanitarian criteria.
The meeting participants discussed opportunities for deepening cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, as well as issues of bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Germany.
In particular, issues of financial support of Ukraine and investments were discussed with advisor to the Federal Chancellor for Economic Affairs Lars-Hendrik Röller.
"We are grateful to Germany and personally to Chancellor Angela Merkel and all our interlocutors for their firm and consistent position in supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. They once again demonstrated that Germany is a good and reliable friend of Ukraine, and we feel great support," Yermak summed up.
The head of the Office of the President of Ukraine also extended greetings to the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel from President Zelensky.