We must keep working on implementing Minsk
Fifty days after the new Ukrainian government took over, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman for talks. "We had a very friendly and open discussion about the situation in Ukraine," said Angela Merkel at a press conference following their meeting. She warmly wished the Prime Minister every success, and assured him that Germany will "support Ukraine in every possible way".
Difficult reform process
Ukraine is facing a large number of challenges both in terms of the economic situation and on the domestic policy front. "Ukraine is gong through a difficult reform process after many years of stalemate," said the Chancellor. A new justice system must be put in place to tackle corruption.
"The most important thing is to show the people that after a difficult phase of transition their situation will actually improve." This has not yet happened. Indeed average income has declined.
Expanding economic relations
This is why there is a focus on economic cooperation with Ukraine. Following a joint economic conference last February in Berlin, a second conference is to be held in October in Kyiv. It is hoped that this conference will get German investors interested in the economic potential offered by Ukraine. And the event will also be taken as an opportunity to officially open the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Kyiv.
Germany is supporting the reform and decentralisation efforts of Ukraine very specifically with an untied financial loan, which is to be used primarily to improve energy efficiency, stressed Angela Merkel.
Donbass – a region in crisis
In view of the still tense security situation around Donetsk and Luhansk in the conflict-affected eastern Ukraine, the Chancellor bemoaned the fact that there is still no stable cessation of hostilities in this area. "This is very regrettable, because as a result every day sees unrest in these areas, and also in the whole of Ukraine."
Nevertheless, Germany and Ukraine continue to call for the implementation of the Minsk agreements. "I will of course remain in contact with President Petro Poroshenko, who is primarily responsible in this context," pledged Angela Merkel.
Working on the electoral law
In Normandy format meetings, Germany and France are currently endeavouring to support Ukrainian interests at working level, so that Ukraine regains access to its own borders. Work is progressing apace, said the Chancellor, "but we have not yet got to the point which would make talks at political level appear promising".
The draft electoral law is currently being negotiated with Russia by OSCE legal experts and representatives. It is necessary "to get things in the right order, and then, before a vote is taken on an electoral law there must certainly be a certain phase in which the ceasefire holds, in which it is really stable," said Angela Merkel clearly.
In terms of political talks, by contrast, they will depend on progress on the details, which is why there is still no date for the next top-level Normandy format meeting. All in all it is a question of enabling the people in the Donbass to live a better life, and of holding elections in line with OSCE standards. "That is a difficult process, but I think it is worthwhile," stressed the Chancellor.
On 6 June 2014 Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Vladimir Putin, Petro Poroshenko and François Hollande, all of whom were in Normandy to commemorate the D-Day landings in the Second World War. It was the first time the Russian and Ukrainian Presidents had met since the beginning of the crisis. Since then meetings between the four countries have been termed "Normandy format" meetings.
The goal – visa liberalisation in autumn
The issue of visa liberalisation, which is important for Ukraine, is on the agenda for autumn. Ukraine has met all conditions set. Within the EU, work is now proceeding on a mechanism to make it possible to suspend visa liberalisation in times of danger. This is a reflection of the EU’s experience following the lifting of visa restriction on Serbian citizens, as a result of which the number of Serbs applying for asylum rocketed.
This has nothing to do with implementing the outcome of the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, assured Angela Merkel. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman made it clear that Ukraine will respect all necessary legal steps.