Ukraine and Russia have agreed on a full and comprehensive implementation of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine before the end of 2019, announced leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany announced here on Monday evening.
“The parties commit to fully implementing the ceasefire, which will be consolidated by the implementation of all necessary ceasefire support measures, before the end of 2019,” said a joint declaration issued by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Following the talks called Normandy Four Summit, the four parties also agreed to support an implementation of an updated demining plan, and an agreement within the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on three additional disengagement zones, aiming at disengaging forces and equipment by the end of March 2020, said the declaration.
The TCG is a group of representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which aims to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, where conflicts between government troops and pro-independence insurgents have been raging since April 2014.
In the joint declaration, the Normandy Four leaders called on the TCG to facilitate an “all for all” prisoner swap by the end of the year.
Monday’s summit was the first of its kind in three years.
The last was held in Berlin in 2016.
This was also the first time that Putin and Zelensky met face to face since the latter was elected president earlier this year. After the four-party talks, the two leaders had a separate one-on-one meeting.
The four leaders hailed the meeting as a progress in reviving the peace process set down in the Minsk agreements, which, signed in September 2014 and February 2015 respectively, are designed to peacefully end the conflict in Donbass.
Specifically, the agreements envisage a ceasefire, a withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the demarcation line, a prisoner exchange and local elections, among other measures.
Macron, as the host of the landmark event, said the talks were “rich and fruitful,” adding that “the fact that we sat side by side today…is an achievement.”
“It is very important to ensure an immediate ceasefire,” said Merkel, adding that the implementation of local elections “is not easily achievable” and much more work needs to be done.
The Ukrainian president said that there are still divergencies between Ukraine and Russia. “I would like to solve more problems,” said Zelensky, stressing that local elections must be held in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
However, Zelensky said
the talk with Putin was “positive,” and that there will be a new round of prisoner swap this month.
The Russian president said the summit marked an “important step” towards a de-escalation in eastern Ukraine. “The process is moving in the right direction,” he said.
“Russia would do all it can to end this conflict.”
The four parties agreed to hold another meeting in the Normandy format in the next four months, discussing “political and security conditions for local elections,” said the declaration.
Established in June 2014, the Normandy Four is a contact group for senior officials from the four countries to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine that erupted in April 2014.
Source: Xinhua – PARIS