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    Poroshenko Has No Doubt Peace Will Come to Ukraine Soon

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    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday he had “no doubts” that the most dangerous period of the civil conflict in the country is over and peace will be restored soon.

    Updated 6:13 p.m. Moscow Time 

    KIEV, September 25 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday that he had "no doubts" that the most dangerous period of the civil conflict in the country is over and peace will be restored soon.

    "I have no doubts that my peace plan will work and that the most important, most dangerous part of the war is already over," he said while presenting a program of reforms until 2020. "I have no doubts that peace will be restored soon."

    Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since mid-April, when Kiev began a military operation against independence supporters in the southeastern regions of the country. According to UN, some 3,000 people have been killed since the start of the offensive. The deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Andrei Purgin, said Monday that around 4,000 people had lost their lives in the region.

    The Contact Group on the Ukrainian crisis, comprising officials from Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), met on September 5 in Minsk which resulted in the agreement of a ceasefire which began that same day. The Minsk protocol was based on peace plans devised by both Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    On September 19, a memorandum was developed by the group to include nine provisions implementing the ceasefire between Kiev and independence supports in eastern Ukraine. The memorandum entailed the establishment of a 30 kilometer (approximately 19 miles) buffer zone on the current line of contact to be monitored by the OSCE.

    Ukraine Set to Boost Military Expenses to 5% of GDP by 2020

    Ukraine will increase its defense expenditure from the current one percent to five percent of the GDP by 2020 under President Petro Poroshenko’s plan of reforms unveiled Thursday.

    According to Poroshenko's program, the current expenditures constitute 1.02 percent of the GDP.

    The plan, unveiled by the president at a news conference in Kiev, also envisions the increase of the number of professional soldiers in the armed forces to eight percent of the overall military personnel.

    The current number, according to official data, is 2.8 soldiers per thousand citizens.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday there was no need so far to introduce the state of martial law in Ukraine.

    "We don't need a state of martial law at present, it will be introduced when it's really needed," Poroshenko said at a news conference in Kiev.

    "Ukraine would have lost international support if it introduced martial law," he said.

    Poroshenko Rules Out Peacekeepers in Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ruled out the deployment of peacekeepers in Ukraine Thursday.

    “There will be no peacekeeping contingents. No peacekeeping contingents will ever be deployed on the territory of Ukraine,” Poroshenko told reporters.

    The Ukrainian president made the same announcement on Twitter, adding that “There will be a special monitoring mission of the OSCE .”

    According to Poroshenko, monitors of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will arrive in eastern Ukraine later Thursday to monitor how the sides observe the ceasefire in the region.

    The Kiev government and the pro-independence forces of southeastern Ukraine agreed on a ceasefire at the September 5 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk. Another meeting of the group comprising delegations from Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics and the OSCE, held on September 19, resulted in the adoption of a nine-point memorandum, specifying the provisions of the ceasefire.

    Since the ceasefire was established, the conflicting sides have repeatedly accused each other of the regime violation, although the OSCE said earlier this month the truce was generally holding.

    According to Presidential Plan Ukraine to Replace 70% of Civil Servants by 2020

    About 70 percent of all civil servants in Ukraine will be replaced under President Petro Poroshenko's plan of reforms until 2020 unveiled Thursday.

    The president's long-term program envisages the "replacement of 70 percent of civil servant staff (law-enforcement, judges, prosecutors, administration)."

    Under Poroshenko's plan, Ukraine will also increase its defense expenditure from the current one percent of GDP to five percent by 2020.

    The plan, unveiled by the president at a news conference in Kiev, also envisions an increase in the number of professional soldiers in the armed forces by eight percent of the overall military personnel.

    The current number, according to official data, is 2.8 soldiers per thousand citizens.

    As part of a broader plan for social and economic reforms, Ukraine will apply for membership to the European Union in 2020, Poroshenko said.

    According to Poroshenko, the full document contains over 60 reforms and special programs.

    Apart from top priority reforms, two special programs, namely Ukraine's energy independence and further popularization of the country across the world have been developed.

    OSCE, Russian Monitors to Arrive to East Ukraine Thursday

    Monitors of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will arrive in eastern Ukraine Thursday to monitor how the sides observe the ceasefire in the region, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday.

    "Inspectors from Russia and the OSCE are arriving today <…> to take effective measures against those who violate the ceasefire regime," he said. "They will arrive in Kharkiv today and will start their mission tomorrow in Debaltseve, a city that currently sees most intense shelling."

    He also said it was possible to hold a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation in Donbas.

    "It is possible that we will be able to hold a meeting of the Contact Group in Donbas if the ceasefire is observed," he told reporters.

    The Kiev government and the pro-independence forces of southeastern Ukraine agreed on a ceasefire at the September 5 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk. Another meeting of the group comprising delegations from Russia, Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics and the OSCE, held on September 19, resulted in the adoption of a nine-point memorandum, specifying the provisions of the ceasefire.

    Poroshenko Says May Meet with Putin in Europe in Next Three Weeks

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday he could meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Europe in the course of three weeks.

    "I think we will have a meeting with President Putin sometime during the next three weeks, which will take place in Europe," Poroshenko told reporters in Kiev.

    "We have preliminary agreements. It all depends on the implementation of the peace plan, and the format will be determined by circumstances," he said.

    Poroshenko and Putin's last meeting took place in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on August 26, during the talks also involving heads of Russia’s Customs Union partner states Belarus and Kazakhstan, along with EU officials.

    The two leaders discussed the crisis in Ukraine, humanitarian aid to the country’s eastern regions, the flow of refugees to Russia, and the possibility of an internal dialogue between Kiev and eastern Ukraine.

    The two leaders met for the first time since Poroshenko's election during celebrations to mark the 70th D-Day anniversary in Normandy, France, in early June.

    Ukraine to Cut Russian Gas Imports by Half by 2020

    Ukraine will reduce the share of Russian gas in its overall gas imports from the current 60 percent to 30 percent by 2020, according to the Ukrainian president's plan of reforms unveiled Thursday.

    Revealing his strategy for Ukraine's development until 2020, President Petro Poroshenko said that any one supplier should not be allowed to deliver more than 30 percent of the overall gas purchased by Ukraine.

    A fourfold increase of the national GDP per capita and raising the volume of direct foreign investment into Ukraine by up to $40 billion are among other economic goals stated in Poroshenko's plan.

    Moscow introduced a prepayment system of gas deliveries to Ukraine in June due to Kiev's massive $5.3 billion gas debt. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stressed that Russia would only agree to a temporary price of $385 per cubic meter of gas for the period of negotiations between Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz companies, and would resume cooperation on the issue only after the debt is paid.

    Ukraine is not only a consumer, but also a major transit country for Russian gas supplies to Europe. A trilateral meeting between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission on the issue is scheduled at Friday.

    Poroshenko Vows Greater Autonomy, Local Elections for Regions

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday he planned to give greater autonomy to Ukrainian regions and hold local elections after the October 26 parliamentary elections.

    "I will immediately propose a number of amendments to the new [Verkhovna] Rada concerning decentralization issues," he said, adding that the process of giving greater autonomy to the regions should coincide with local elections.

    On August 27, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree, dissolving the country's parliament and setting new election for October 26.

    Since Poroshenko entered into office, he repeatedly highlighted the need to hold early parliamentary elections, stating that the current members fail to represent the true interests of the Ukrainian society.

    The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine refuse to hold any Ukrainian elections on their territories.

    In response to local militia ultimatums, last week Poroshenko submitted a law to the Verkhovna Rada, allowing an introduction of self-administration in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    The bill, which is a part of a 12-point peace plan, signed by Kiev officials and representatives of the DPR and LPR during the Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk on September 5, states that local elections are to take place in the regions on December 7 and also guarantees the right to use Russian or any other language in Ukraine.

    The status of Ukraine's eastern regions remains a matter of debate. Kiev says it is ready to offer special status only to areas controlled by independence supporters, while DPR and LPR authorities claim they want full independence and will not agree to any status that sees them as a part of Ukraine.

    Ukraine Needs Aid from IMF, EU and US to Stabilize National Currency

    President Petro Poroshenko said Thursday that Ukraine will need to review its cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and receive additional financial aid from the United States and the European Union to bring stability to the country's currency market.

    In order to stabilize Ukraine's national currency, the hryvna, Kiev "must create [an] investment climate, end war, review the IMF program introducing adjustments in light of the current situation, and attract additional financial aid in the amount of 1 billion euros from the EU and $1 billion from the US," Poroshenko told reporters in Kiev.

    There has been a major increase in devaluation and inflation rates of the hryvna since the start of the armed clashes between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, threatening the collapse of the country's economy.

    Ukraine is currently on the verge of a default, with the country's authorities trying to rescue its economy with international loans.

    The United States has already offered over $60 million of non-lethal aid to Ukraine, while Canada approved a $200 million loan to help restore its economy and ensure the country's social stability.

    The European Union has also provided Ukraine with financial aid.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $17 billion loan for Ukraine in the form of a two-year stabilization program.

    To receive the IMF funds in full, Ukraine agreed to a severe austerity program that includes shedding 24,000 government jobs, raising taxes, selling off state assets and withdrawing subsidies on natural gas.

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    conference, press, peace, Petro Poroshenko
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