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Ukraine

A chance for democracy

Events in Ukraine developed at breakneck speed over the weekend. The opposition and the government came to a provisional agreement to resolve the country’s domestic crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the "overall extremely encouraging developments," said government spokesperson Steffen Seibert in Berlin.

Thanks to the assistance of German Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his French and Polish counterparts and a Russian special envoy, President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition signed an agreement on Friday. This was a "vitally important step", said Steffen Seibert.

The fact that things remained largely peaceful thereafter, "was an encouraging development, which we welcome, after the terrible bloodshed". Nevertheless, the situation remains extremely tense and uncertain, stated the government spokesperson.

The Chancellor makes many phone calls

In this situation the Chancellor has had contacts in Ukraine and has made many phone calls. Some of her contacts include opposition politicians Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Yulia Tymoshenko, said Steffen Seibert. The Chancellor has also spoken to the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the French President François Hollande.

In all these conversations, the Chancellor urged her partners "to keep things in proportion", said Steffen Seibert. It must, after all, be in the interests of all parties, "for Ukraine to return to a rule-of-law, transparent process" so that a democratic solution can be found to the crisis.

Angela Merkel calls for unity

We now have the chance, said Steffen Seibert. "The players involved must accept their responsibility." Those who now take up the reins of government, will have to preserve the integrity of the country.

This intention must also be reflected in the composition of the government to be formed, in its political agenda and in the tone it adopts. This applies particularly to the east of the Ukraine and to Crimea, in the south of the country.

Germany supports the wish of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to see "the rule of law, peace, democracy and liberty", stressed Steffen Seibert.

Setting the scene for a new political beginning

At the weekend "it would appear that a new majority has emerged in parliament", explained the government spokesman. This majority has taken significant formal and personnel-related decisions for the transitional period.

On Friday evening the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, voted to oust President Yanukovych. Olexander Turchynov will act as interim president as well as his new role of speaker in the Ukrainian parliament. The date given for the early presidential elections is 25 May 2014. The 2004 constitution has also been reinstated.

At the end of the transitional process, the German government believes there should be "transparent, free, fair, democratic elections" that provide the newly elected political leaders of Ukraine with full democratic legitimation.

Door remains open for an Association Agreement with the EU

"The EU and Germany will do their bit," pledged the government spokesperson. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton, once again arrived in Kyiv on Monday to discuss further possible measures to support Ukraine.

Although the first priority is to re-establish political stability, the door for an Association Agreement remains open, said Steffen Seibert.

Yulia Tymoshenko released

On Friday the Ukrainian parliament ordered the release of the imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. On Saturday evening she arrived at the Maidan (Independence Square) in Kyiv. In front of an audience of tens of thousands of demonstrators she gave her first public speech for more than two years.

In a telephone conversation, the Chancellor "welcomed Yulia Tymoshenko to freedom", said Steffen Seibert. The offer of further medical treatment remains on the table. Angela Merkel also expressed her conviction that the integrity of the country should be preserved. This is "a very important point", underscored the government spokesperson.