Every diplomatic opportunity should be used

Ukraine conflict Every diplomatic opportunity should be used

Speaking in Berlin, the Chancellor has again called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. There can be no military solution to the conflict, she said. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for the OSCE mission in Ukraine to be enabled to have a greater impact.

At a press conference with the Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades in Berlin, Angela Merkel said, "We will not be able to solve the sort of conflict we now have militarily. That is why we must make the most of every diplomatic opportunity."

Celebrating 9 May appropriately

Angela Merkel responded with restraint to the possibility that President Vladimir Putin might attend celebrations in Crimea to mark 9 May. This date, 9 May, she said is an important day in history, marking the end of the dreadful suffering caused by the Second World War.

"Four years ago I was in Moscow on 9 May, because it was important to me to demonstrate that we have understood what history teaches us, and that there will be no repetition," said Angela Merkel. "It would be a shame if a day like this were used to hold a military parade in such an explosive atmosphere."

Frank-Walter Steinmeier warns of further escalation

In view of the spiralling violence in eastern Ukraine, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier fears that the situation could deteriorate further. "We are literally on the brink of war in Eastern Europe," he wrote in the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"The situation is dreadful, and in spite of all the international efforts we have not yet managed to significantly defuse tensions," stated the Minister on Monday evening on the German television channel ZDF. "I am not talking about war, but there is bloodshed that we absolutely must stop."

Every diplomatic channel to be used

"There are groups in eastern Ukraine, which listen neither to Kyiv and the government in power there, nor to Moscow and its political leaders," said Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "I can only say, in view of this, it was extremely lucky that we managed to have the hostages released in spite of the worsening situation around Slavyansk, at what might prove to have been the last minute."

Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed hope, however. "This is a sign that it is always worthwhile making the most of every opportunity that still exists, even in what would appear to be an almost hopeless situation," he was quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Giving up is not an option! And that also applies to our efforts to de-escalate the situation. We might fail," continued the Federal Foreign Minister. But we cannot sit back and let things take their course. "It is our duty not only to take every opportunity that presents, but to create these opportunities with lots of hard work."

Military solution not an option

"In Ukraine we no longer have a wide range of peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms on offer," Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote. "A military solution is plainly not an option." The OSCE is, however, an experienced, renowned international organisation that is already in Ukraine, and can perhaps continue to mediate in the conflict.

But, said the Federal Foreign Minister, there are only prospects of success if all parties are willing to pursue the goal hammered out at the negotiations in Geneva on 17 April 2014. "If the OSCE is to have a greater impact in achieving a political solution, it needs strong support from those who sent it into Ukraine."

Relief over the release of OSCE observers

In a telephone call with President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her relief over the release of the OSCE observers who had been held in eastern Ukraine. The team of OSCE military observers had been held for more than a week in Slavyansk.

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin also discussed the visit to Moscow of the Swiss OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter, which was scheduled for Wednesday. At the meeting in Moscow, one point on the agenda was to be the establishment of Round Tables under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Round Tables are to facilitate a national dialogue in the run-up to the presidential elections in Ukraine.

Federal Foreign Office updates travel advice

The Federal Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for Ukraine. Given the extremely tense security situation, the Ministry advises against all travel to Crimea. In the view of the German government Crimea remains part of Ukraine in terms of international law although it is currently under the de facto control of Russia. In view of the current situation, no consular services can be provided to German citizens in Crimea at present.

The Federal Foreign Office also advises against all travel to eastern and southern Ukraine. German citizens currently in these parts of the country are recommended to leave the country.