The welcome had to make do without military honours, but was no less warm for that. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s new Prime Minister held talks on Tuesday during a video conference. It was a digital inaugural visit. The items on the agenda stretched from the difficult reform process in Ukraine, to matters of economic and security policy.
Denys Shmyhal, born on 15 October 1975 in Lviv, is a graduate in economics. On 4 March 2020 he was voted into office as Prime Minister of Ukraine by Ukraine’s Parliament or Rada, on the recommendation of President Volodymyr Zelensky. He took over the office from Oleksiy Honcharuk.
Relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Ukraine are close, partly because Germany and France are endeavouring to find a solution in negotiations with Russia and Ukraine, together known as the Normandy Group or N4, that can bring peace to eastern Ukraine. The conflict in the coal mining region of the Donbas, which has been waged since 2014 largely by pro-Russian separatists, has already cost over 13,000 lives, with numerous civilians among the victims.
In spite of what was agreed at the most recent N4 summit in Paris in December 2019, the ceasefire along the ‘contact line’ is still fragile. And little progress has been made on disengaging troops and withdrawing heavy arms.
The complete implementation of the catalogue of measures agreed in 2015 in Minsk, which includes organising local elections in the conflict-affected area, is thus still the object of intensive negotiations at working level.