Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky believes that the summit in the Normandy format (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) on resolving the Donbass crisis should be held as soon as possible, he said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.
"I want this meeting to take place immediately. That’s why the first working meeting [of political directors] is scheduled for July," TASS quoted Zelensky as saying.
Zelensky noted that earlier the sides had discussed a possibility of holding the Normandy format meeting after Ukraine’s parliamentary polls due on July 21. "First, the discussion was held about the dates, so that this is done after the parliamentary polls in Ukraine and yesterday I talked about this in France with Mr. Emmanuel Macron," the Ukrainian president said.
In her turn, Merkel noted that the meeting of advisers in the Normandy format would be held on July 12. According to her, Germany and France are ready to take part in a new summit and would search for a good opportunity for that.
The Normandy format negotiations for the settlement of the Donbass crisis have been underway since June 2014 when the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany who gathered in Normandy for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day (the landing of allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in 1944) discussed the settlement of the conflict in southeast Ukraine for the first time.
Several Normandy Four meetings have taken place at the summit and ministerial levels since then. The last summit attended by the Normandy Four leaders was held in Berlin in October 2016. However, the summit’s key goal of adopting a roadmap on implementing the Minsk agreements was not achieved.
The last meeting at the level of foreign ministers in the Normandy format was held in February 2017, when the sides stated that no agreements on key areas had been endorsed.
The Minsk agreements reached on February 12, 2015 by the Normandy Four leaders envisaged ceasefire and also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and a constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions. The Ukrainian forces and militias of the self-proclaimed republics have repeatedly accused each other of violating ceasefire and other points of the Minsk agreements.