Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

EU trying to relaunch Ukraine peace process

  • The Minsk Agreement signed by Ukraine and Russia with Germany and France is the "key way of solving the conflict" (Photo: kremlin.ru)

The EU is seeking ways to secure a continued ceasefire and organisation of local elections in eastern Ukraine as well as to relaunch talks between Ukraine and Russia on a peace agreement.

Foreign ministers meeting in Bratislava on Friday (2 September) restated that the Minsk ceasefire pact remained the "key reference and key way of solving the conflict," EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini said.


Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The pact was agreed in February 2015 by Ukraine and Russian presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin after negotiations with German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.

A meeting of the so-called Normandy Format, the group of the four leaders set up to follow how the Minsk accord is implemented, was planned in the margins of the G20 summit in China next week. But it was cancelled after increased fighting in eastern Ukraine during summer and a Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border.

"For now we feel reluctance on the Russian side about the Normandy format," French minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday.

Merkel and Hollande will meet Putin at the G20 anyway to try to bring him back to the negotiation table. And Ayrault and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier were looking for a date to go to Kiev.

The French minister said that France and Germany were going to take initiatives "to get out of this situation which is not good, which is not acceptable".

The lack of progress in the peace process led to some discussion about the role of the Berlin-Paris tandem.

"Not everyone agrees with Germany and France," an EU source told EUobserver.

Mogherini before the meeting suggested that the EU played a more important role in the process. But Ayrault insisted that "France and Germany have responsibility for the Normandy format," and after the meeting Mogherini expressed "full support for the Normandy format".

Part of the problem is that the parties in the Minsk talks do not have the same interpretation of the ceasefire, said the Slovak foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak, whose country currently chairs the Council of the EU.

"Moscow's reading of the set of steps is different from the Kiev's reading," he said.

“As long as we have different interpretations, there is no chance to have a progress," he said, adding that he expected from the Normandy four a clear view of who should do what and when.

'Keep pressure on Russia'

The situation on the ground improved in recent days with a truce signed for the restart of the school year.

"We see in these hours in the east of Ukraine a ceasefire that is holding," Mogherini noted.

But implementation of the accord has been stumbling for months on the issue of local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions under pro-Russian separatists control.

Ministers in Bratislava said the EU was ready to provide support for the vote in certain areas of the two regions "once the preconditions set by OSCE are met," Mogherini said, referring to the pan-European security organisation that monitors the situation on the ground.

Mogherini said that the EU in particular could support the OSCE's police or monitoring missions, but she said there would be "definitively no" EU peacekeeping mission.

She said the EU could also in the short term provide "financial and technical support to activities to improve living conditions of the population."

Frustration with Ukraine

In the long term, the EU is also ready to help Ukraine to reconstruct and reform.

Next to the political and military side of the country's future, which is the domain of the Normandy powers, the EU should focus on the economic side, the EU source said.

But "Ukraine doesn't seem to be very interested in going forward," and there is frustration from the EU, he said.

"What is happening in the East [of Ukraine] should not be used as a pretext to delay reforms," he added.

Ministers also talked about sanctions against Russia, ahead of a discussion on EU-Russia relations by EU leaders at their next summit in October.

"There were no major different positions," Mogherini said, repeating that lifting of sanctions would be linked to the full implementation of Minsk.


"It's important to keep the pressure on Russia until we see progress on the Minsk agreement," British minister Boris Johnson said.

Mogherini said that leaders would talk "not only about sanctions but also abut what sanctions are connected to, which is the situation on the ground."

"The issue is not the sanctions themselves, the issue is the solution of the conflict," she said.

EU to help Ukraine cut Russia gas dependence

The EU aims to help Ukraine become independent of Russian energy supplies in the next “three to four years”, Ukarine's PM and an EU commissioner have said.

EU to uphold ban on Putin's 'cronies'

EU states are expected, next week, to extend for six months their blacklist of Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for the war in Ukraine.

West shows $1bn of faith in Ukraine

The IMF has shown faith in Ukraine’s reform efforts by disbursing more money. A new ceasefire deal has also given fresh hope of peace.

Focus

Greenland votes with eye on independence

Six out of seven political parties running in Greenland's parliamentary elections on Tuesday are pro-independence, but they disagree on how fast the last ties to Copenhagen should be cut. Increasing dependence on China could be the consequence.

Opinion

How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?

Russian domestic television - the only source of foreign news for most Russians - consistently shows Europe over-run by immigrants, beset by terrorist atrocities, and on strike. This has serious consequences.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  2. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ
  3. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  4. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  5. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  6. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  7. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  8. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations