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    Council of Europe Hints at Kiev's Fault in Crisis Amid Avdiivka Fighting

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    Ukraine needs to speed up implementing the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict in east Ukraine and proceed with constitutional decentralization reforms, Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The CoE head went on to stress that Ukraine's decentralization must be embedded in constitutional reform which Kiev agreed to undertake as part of the 2015 Minsk accords.

    "I would like to repeat here something I have held since the beginning of this crisis: that Ukraine urgently needs an inclusive and sustainable political settlement on which lasting peace can be built. Decentralisation remains a major part of that… But many believe that reform is too slow. And it is true that we need to build momentum," Jagland said at the CoE-hosted Reform in Ukraine: Achievements and Perspectives event in Strasbourg, as quoted in a transcript.

    "We strongly believe that giving decentralization an inclusive, constitutional basis would help the reconciliation process, and would help unite the country," Jagland said after reiterating his concern with the recent spike of violence in east Ukraine's Avdiivka.

    The Council of Europe will continue to assist Kiev in implementing the reforms in accordance with the European Charter of Local Self Government as well as the human rights organization's 2015-2017 action plan aimed at helping Ukraine fulfill its obligations as a council member, he added.

    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. The accords are yet to be fully implemented, with Kiev's constitutional reforms still in limbo and frequent ceasefire violations continuing.

    The situation near the industrial town of Avdiivka and neighboring Yasynuvata has been tense for several days, with civilians being deprived of running water, central heating and electricity. The Ukrainian forces and Donbass militia are accusing each other of being responsible for escalation of fighting.

    On Monday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had to interrupt his visit to Germany due to the escalation of the security situation on the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. He also charged his aides with calling for the extraordinary session of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine to discuss the situation.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Moscow had reliable data that the Ukrainian independent armed groups, supported by the Ukrainian Armed Forces' artillery, were behind the attack on Avdiivka.

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    Council of Europe, Thornbjorn Jagland, Avdiivka, Ukraine
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