Peace in Donbas, elections in March: Ukraine prepares Joint Steps Plan for TCG

Peace in Donbas, elections in March: Ukraine prepares Joint Steps Plan for TCG

Ukraine has prepared the Joint Steps Plan for the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), which proposes fully stopping the conflict in Donbas and demilitarizing certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in order to create all necessary conditions for holding local elections there on March 31, 2021.

The head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TCG, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, said this in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

"The first thing we propose to do is to definitely stop the armed conflict and to conduct a mandatory complete demilitarization of the certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions [ORDLO]. This is what we should do in the first place. In other words, all armed formations, mercenaries, weapons should be withdrawn from this territory and illegal armed formations should be disbanded. And this needs to be done at the beginning of 2021," Kravchuk said.

According to him, after that, Ukraine should take control of the border and ensure normal life in these territories. "That is, the security component becomes the main one, determining in order to move forward," Kravchuk said.

He noted that it would be important to clearly settle the issue of responsibility for persons who took part in the events related to the war in Donbas, and the prevention of punishment for those who are not guilty for committing crimes.

"This should be done through the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a relevant draft law, the text of which will need to be discussed in the TCG working group on political issues. We need issues of responsibility to be resolved according to the law, in a balanced manner, taking into account the situation in Donbas, and taking into account the experience of other countries. Because there are criminals, there are people who came there to kill for money - they should be held accountable, while others should live and work normally on their own, Ukrainian land," he said.

The Ukrainian side will insist that it is necessary to immediately ensure full and unconditional access of international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all detainees. Ukraine would like this to be done by mid-November 2020, and the final mutual release of detainees on the principle of "all for all" should take place no later than December 15, 2020.

Kravchuk said that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission must have safe access to the entire territory of Ukraine in order to carry out its mission, and Ukraine would also like to achieve an increase in the size of the OSCE SMM by 1,500 people by mid-December and will put forward this proposal to the OSCE Permanent Council.

"We hope that the Russian Federation, Germany and France will support our proposal. Because monitoring the Ukrainian-Russian border in Donetsk and Luhansk regions requires active work and constant information," he said, noting that Ukraine insists on ensuring full control over specific sections of the Ukrainian-Russian border.

According to Ukrainian plan, no later than March 31, 2021, local elections should be held on the territory of ORDLO in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, and in compliance with OSCE standards - the 1990 CSCE/OSCE Copenhagen Document.

"In addition, it will be necessary to adopt a law on the specifics of holding local elections in ORDLO. I think that the Verkhovna Rada has already worked out a lot in this direction. It is necessary to raise all these developments, look at their content, and, taking into account the changes that have occurred, adopt an appropriate decision," Kravchuk said.

He also added that since the "Steinmeier formula" was discussed at a meeting of the Normandy Four summit in Paris in December 2019, it cannot be ignored and should also be mentioned in the document.

Kravchuk noted that the authorities of the Russian Federation, in particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin, adopted a number of decisions and documents that are direct interference in the life of ORDLO, for example, on the simplified procedure for granting residents of these territories Russian citizenship, although the Russian president himself has repeatedly said that the territories are part of Ukraine. Therefore, the Ukrainian side will propose that such decisions and documents be canceled.

According to Kravchuk, Ukraine will also propose the creation of a free economic zone as part of the implementation of a special order of local self-government in ORDLO. "Without it, it will be impossible to restore the economy there. And this free economic zone, according to our vision, should operate approximately until 2050. Calculations show that this time will allow Donbas region to return to normal," he said.

Kravchuk also noted that the Ukrainian side would very much like the next meeting of the leaders of the Normandy format states to take place before the end of 2020. "So that they evaluate the process of implementing the agreements, what has been done and what has not been done. And they must discuss security conditions and political conditions for local elections. To make it clear that local elections in ORDLO are possible only under certain appropriate conditions," he said.

Kravchuk said that the Joint Steps Plan proposed by Ukraine is not a substitute for what has already been done over six years of work of the Normandy Four and the TCG. "This is a document that meets the realities and what has been done, and with its help we want to supplement or clarify those issues that have not been broadly, accurately and concretely embodied in previous documents," he said.

On November 5, this plan of the Ukrainian side will be sent to the TCG coordinator, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine Heidi Grau.


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