Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comment for the media on the results of a Normandy format meeting, Paris, 24 February 2015
We have completed a meeting of the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. It was held to discuss the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which the leaders of the Normandy Four countries coordinated on February 12 and which instructed their foreign ministers to jointly develop a monitoring mechanism for these agreements.
This issue was at the focus of our meeting. We did not plan to sign a joint document, because the February 12 Minsk agreements, the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements and the declaration signed by our leaders in Minsk, set out exhaustively everything that needs to be done.
Following our consultations today, our host, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, told the media about the main results of this meeting. Overall, his statement gives an objective picture of our discussions. The key priority is to consolidate the ceasefire. My partners have admitted that the situation has greatly improved. At the same time, OSCE observers have reported sporadic violations. We urge the sides to complete this process as efficiently as possible.
My colleagues, primarily the foreign ministers of Germany and France, said it is of crucial importance that the sides start withdrawing their heavy weaponry immediately, without waiting for the time when not a single shot is fired. They have a positive view of the DPR and LPR’s actions in this respect. While we were discussing the latest development at our meeting in Paris, it was reported that representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics and the Ukrainian military coordinated the first stage of the heavy weaponry withdrawal plan. This is considerable progress, provided this information is confirmed.
We also urged the OSCE and the Joint Centre on Control and Coordination to provide assistance to the withdrawal of heavy weapons. We also expressed our opinion that our representatives in Vienna, acting in accordance with our leaders’ instructions issued in Minsk on February 12, propose without delay that the mandate of the OSCE monitoring mission be extended and that additional equipment, personnel and funds be provided to it. We will put forth this initiative at the OSCE Office in Vienna.
It is important that we have reaffirmed the need for the Contact Group to get down as soon as possible to the other issues set out in the February 12 Minsk agreements. This primarily concerns the political process, including preparations for elections and the goals of a constitutional reform. We agreed that a key priority is the start of dialogue on the restoration of socioeconomic ties and the provision of banking services to people in the regions controlled by the self-defence forces.
In conclusion, we agreed, as our host, Mr Fabius said, that our foreign ministries, acting through deputy foreign ministers or directors of the relevant departments, would continue monitoring the situation, monitor the implementation of the February 12 decisions by the Contact Group and, if necessary, give a political impetus to prevent the process from stalling on any of these issues. I hope that when the withdrawal of heavy weapons is completed there will be no arguments left for putting off the solution of the political issues as formulated on February 12.
I’d like to repeat that, as President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Vladimir Solovyov yesterday, it is vitally important to implement all aspects of the Minsk agreements. The priorities in this context include a constitutional reform, the coordination of a plan for municipal elections and economic rehabilitation of these regions, as well as the economy of Ukraine as a whole.