We are committed to the peace process, says Angela Merkel

She welcomed Ukraine’s efforts to undertake constitutional reform in order to accelerate the political process in the parts of the country affected by conflict.

At her meeting last week in Berlin with French President François Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, all parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreements, reported Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Federal Press Conference in Berlin. They had spoken in a great deal of depth about the obstacles to the political process, and ways of overcoming these, she added.

Another Normandy format meeting possible

At the weekend she and François Hollande had discussed this by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, she said. "We agreed that we should meet again soon in a Normandy format meeting," announced the Chancellor. Following the telephone conversation the ministers of foreign affairs might well consult again.

"But it could well be that a Normandy format meeting of this sort is held." To ensure that progress is made, though, the meeting will have to be thoroughly prepared. "But in principle all sides are open to the idea," stressed Angela Merkel.

Separatists must agree

Now the work must be done in the Trilateral Contact Group with the representatives of the separatists in the so-called people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, said the Chancellor. The matter of local elections in particular must be discussed. The Chancellor explained that it is important that the electoral law that is currently going through the Ukrainian parliament or Verkhovna Rada, be designed such that it is recognised by the separatists. "So far there is no agreement accepted by the representatives of the separatists that a representative of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) be included in the political working group of the Trilateral Contact Group," noted Angela Merkel.

The Minsk agreements provide for local elections to be held in line with Ukrainian law and in compliance with the principles of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

"And so we are working hard on the details of getting this process moving. Everything is based on the Minsk agreements," stressed the Chancellor. She also has the agreement of the Ukrainian President on this point. Angela Merkel described the relevant talks as "extremely constructive".

Difficult constitutional debate

Currently the Verkhovna Rada, or Ukrainian parliament, is debating constitutional reform and the introduction of a special status for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. "This has now given rise to a dispute between Russia and Ukraine as to whether it is the right form at the right place," explained the Chancellor. These consultations are not easy for Ukraine, since what is at stake is, after all, Ukraine’s national territory. "I understand that this is something that demands a lot of the members of parliament. I am following this process with great respect."

Legal consultations have taken place with experts at the Federal Foreign Office and with the involvement of the Venice Commission. "So we are constantly endeavouring to forge ahead with subtle, detailed support. Unfortunately progress is slower than one might expect. But we are strongly committed to this process," said Angela Merkel.