Violence jeopardises Geneva agreements

Crisis in Ukraine Violence jeopardises Geneva agreements

The Geneva meeting of ministers of foreign affairs pointed the way forwards towards de-escalation. The top priority must now be to implement the agreement reached, declared Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in the face of persistent acts of violence in eastern Ukraine.

“We must call on both Moscow and Kyiv to do everything in their power to ensure that the chance of de-escalation that was achieved with such effort in Geneva – and it is only a chance – to make sure that this chance is not thrown away,” declared Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday.

Message to Kyiv and Moscow

The Federal Foreign Minister is currently visiting Moldova, Georgia and other EU partner countries with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

With a view to the crisis in Ukraine, the two ministers once again repeated that, “diplomacy and dialogue” are the only solution. This is their “joint message to Kyiv and to Moscow”.

“Every day that passes – like last weekend – with worsening violence, with a rising number of public building occupied, only makes it more difficult to find a solution,” warned Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius.

All sides called on to respect the agreement

Before the Petersburg Dialogue, which was held on 23 April in Leipzig, Gernot Erler, the German government’s Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries, called on all parties to do their bit. "Neither side is currently making enough effort to actually implement this accord," he said. It would make "sense to finally wind up disarmament," urged the Coordinator.

Both Ukraine’s interim government and Russia must now do all they can to ensure that "what was achieved in Geneva does not subsequently become worthless." Gernot Erler continued, "It was the greatest diplomatic success so far, and a reasonable accord. We have no other agreement."

The Petersburg Dialogue was founded in 2001 as an open forum for discussion. It takes place every year and is held alternately in Germany and in Russia. It aims to foster understanding between the civil societies of the two countries.

A chance to defuse the situation

The emergency talks held by the ministers of foreign affairs of the USA, Russia and Ukraine, and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, held on 17 April in Geneva, initially gave an encouraging sign for defusing tensions. There is once again a chance that Ukraine might not be divided, summed up Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier after the talks.

He also stressed, however, "Peace has not yet been won in Ukraine, and we still have a long way to go". Although, this marks "an important step, the litmus test is still to come," added Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Practical steps called for

The outcome of the Geneva talks deserves respect, pointed out the Federal Foreign Minister. He found it a positive sign, that the ministers of foreign affairs of Ukraine, Russia and the USA, and the EU’s High Representative, had agreed on specific, practical steps to de-escalate the situation. "Now we must prove that the agreement hammered out in Geneva is more than just a piece of paper; that it can change politics," said the Federal Foreign Minister.

In Geneva the parties agreed on the renunciation of violence, the disarming of illegal groups in all regions of Ukraine, the clearing of occupied buildings and an amnesty. The OSCE, which is acting as an independent observer in Ukraine, should play a leading part in implementing the accord.