Paris summit brings Russian, Ukrainian leaders together

Local elections and implementation of cease-fire deal in Ukraine are expected to be delayed beyond 2015, French President says following Normandy group meeting

Paris summit brings Russian, Ukrainian leaders together

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Local elections and implementation of a peace process in Ukraine are expected to be delayed beyond the end of 2015, French President Francois Hollande announced on Friday.

Hollande made the announcement at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following seven hours of meetings in Paris with leaders of the Normandy group, which includes Russia, Germany Ukraine and France.

The French leader said that it would take time to organize elections in Ukraine which would meet international standards; also as a result, the implementation of the Minsk protocol was likely not to conclude by the end of the year.

“On the election issue ... it will take longer. We don't want elections to get held in eastern Ukrainian territories under conditions that would not respect Minsk," Hollande said.

"It is, therefore, likely, even certain now, that, since we need three months to organize elections, we would go beyond the date that was set for the end of Minsk, that is to say December 31, 2015," he added.

The Normandy group summit mainly tackled the situation in eastern regions of Ukraine and the implementation of the cease-fire Minsk protocol signed in February.

This protocol included the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from combat areas, as well as all foreign armed groups. However, the agreement has so far failed to get fully implemented, with daily reports of breaches and clashes in the region.

Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko and Putin held their first talks on the Ukrainian crisis in Normandy, France in June 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Since then, parties held various four-party meetings of various diplomatic levels, referred to as “Normandy format” talks.

Chancellor Merkel praised the discussions as “positive and fruitful”, adding that they (Normandy Four) reached an agreement to increase the number of checkpoints along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

"It was positive that we all could discuss together," Merkel said.

Both Russian and Ukrainian presidents Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko left directly after the summit without speaking to the press.

Hollande announced that the Normandy group's four foreign ministers would meet in November to review progress.

More than 6,000 people have lost their lives and 1.4 million people have been internally displaced in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists since April 2014, according to the UN.

Russia’s Syria intervention

The French and German leaders also held separate bilateral meetings with the Russian president, during which they discussed Moscow's military intervention in Syria.

Hollande said that he told his Russian counterpart that France insisted on three conditions: Russia must strike "ISIL and only ISIL"; security of civilians must be ensured; and the political transition in Syria should be based on the Geneva agreement.

"What I told President Putin was that the strikes should concern ISIL and only ISIL. On that basis we have to hold everyone to their responsibilities," Hollande said.

"We told him [Putin] very clearly that ISIL was the enemy and that's what they should be fighting," he added.

Russia began on Wednesday airstrikes in Syria to boost the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow insists the strikes are targeting ISIL and affiliated terrorist groups, while Western countries and their Gulf allies believe moderate opponents of Assad and civilians are bearing the brunt of Russian attacks.

Merkel for her part said that no connection was made at the four-way talks between the situation in Ukraine and the one in Syria.

She also denied reports about having disagreements with Paris over Assad.

On Monday, the French President excluded a role for Assad in any political solution to the conflict. "We cannot make the victim and the executioner work together," Hollande told the UN in New York.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ekim 2015, 09:33