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    Donbass Truce Could Signal Restart of Normandy Talks - French FM Ayrault

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    After Minsk: Will Peace Come to Ukraine? (1049)
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    The latest truce between the warring sides in Donbass could signal a start of four-country talks on the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday.

    BRATISLAVA (Sputnik) – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special monitoring mission’s deputy chief noted a drop in violence in Donbass since the ceasefire came into force on Thursday, September 1.

    "This ceasefire is on the occasion of the beginning of the school year. It is seemingly observed, which is good. I hope that this will be a sign for the resumption of negotiations so that the Minsk agreements are adhered to in practice," Ayrault told reporters in the Slovak capital.

    The French diplomat, speaking ahead of the informal EU foreign ministerial session, noted Paris’ and Berlin’s responsibility in settling the Ukrainian crisis.

    "Despite the fact that we feel restraint from Russia in terms of the Normandy format – not against the principle itself but in the wake of the Crimea incidents at the moment – we are determined to bring the Minsk agreements to life, to do everything possible to resume productive dialogue," Ayrault said.

    In April 2014, Kiev authorities launched a military operation to suppress independence supporters in the eastern Ukrainian Donbass region. In February 2015, the two sides reached a ceasefire deal after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine – the so-called Normandy Format — in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

    Key points of the Minsk agreements include a ceasefire, heavy weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, constitutional reforms, including a decentralization of power in the country, and granting a special status to the Donbass region.

    "France and Germany are responsible under the Normandy format. [German Foreign Minister] Frank-Walter [Steinmeier] and I plan to go back to Kiev, we are looking for a suitable date to discuss how to get out of this wrong, unacceptable situation," Ayrault added.

    Topic:
    After Minsk: Will Peace Come to Ukraine? (1049)

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    Tags:
    ceasefire, Normandy Format, Ukrainian crisis, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Germany, Donbass, Ukraine, France
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