Fighting for progress in the reform process

Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Marc Ayrault in Kyiv Fighting for progress in the reform process

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault have urged Ukraine to press ahead with reforms. In view of the crisis of government facing the country at present, this is more important than ever.

Only a country that enjoys internal stability can counter external threats, they pointed out. The Minsk agreements must also be implemented.

On his return from Kyiv, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented on the difficult political situation in Ukraine. "It is clear – not only from the German and French perspective, but also after many talks in Kyiv – that nothing is easy in Ukrainian domestic politics and that progress in the reform process must be fought for time and again."

Ukraine must press ahead with reform process

It is unclear whether and how a new reform-oriented government majority can be found in the Verkhovna Rada following the events of last week. "Some are even calling for new elections. Many legislative projects have been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk and are awaiting consideration by the Ukrainian parliament," reported the Federal Foreign Minister.

On 16 February, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk survived a vote of no-confidence against his government in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament. On 18 February two partners pulled out of the governing coalition: Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party and the Samopomich (Self-Reliance) party. Arseniy Yatsenyuk is still Prime Minister, but now heads a minority government.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his new French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault flew to Kyiv for talks. Germany and France have been cooperating closely on efforts to achieve a peaceful political solution since the crisis first erupted in Ukraine. The agreements reached in Minsk on 12 February 2015 include a package of measures designed to gradually resolve the conflict.

Ukraine should refrain from political trench warfare

The Franco-German message in this situation is clear, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "Our expectation of and appeal to all those exercising political responsibility in Kyiv is for them to ensure that no further time is lost and to refrain from political trench warfare and focus on implementing the reform agenda with all due vigour – in the interests of an independent and free Ukraine that is able to hold its own."

Preserving sovereignty, implementing Minsk agreements

In view of the delicate situation in eastern Ukraine, where the ceasefire with the separatists remains fragile, he added, " It is impossible to overstate the point that only countries that enjoy internal stability and gear up for the future can resist external threats."

In a telephone conversation the day before, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had conveyed a similar message. They called on the separatists to respect the ceasefire and guarantee full access to the areas along the border that have seen heavy fighting, in line with the Minsk agreements. President Obama underlined the importance of reaching swift agreement on local elections in eastern Ukraine in line with OSCE standards.