"Normandy" phone talks: Minsk implementation slated for 2016
The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France on Wednesday had a telephone call in the so-called "Normandy format" to discuss the Donbas crisis and the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements in 2016, according to a statement by French President Francois Hollande's office.
The statement says they called for a full implementation in 2016 of the Minsk peace agreement, signed in February, ABC News reported.
It says they are committed to a ceasefire and the coordinated withdrawal of heavy weapons, and are paying special attention to preparations for local elections in eastern Ukraine.
Following the Wednesday call, Merkel's press office issued its statement saying that local elections in Ukrainian-controlled areas in Donbas should take place in the first half of 2016.
"All the sides have supported the working group for political affairs (of the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the Donbas crisis) and its coordinator (from the OSCE) Ambassador Pierre Morel," the statement said.
The working group for political affairs will be offered to finalize a draft law on local elections in Donbas with the support of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) by the end of January 2016.
Merkel's press office also said that measures should be taken to ensure security during the local elections in Donbas.