Election in occupied Donbas no longer on Minsk agenda – Ukraine's negotiator
Expert of the political subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the Donbas crisis Olga Aivazovska claims that the issue of holding local elections in Russia-occupied Donbas is no longer on the agenda of Minsk peace talks due to the efforts of the Ukrainian side, according to a Ukrainian television channel.
"In fact, the negotiation process is sometimes much more complicated in terms of wins and fails than it could seem, as such issues as [local] elections and [related] amendments to the [Ukrainian] Constitution have been removed from the agenda, including due to achievements and position of the Ukrainian side," Aivazovska told Channel 5.
In her words, the de-facto authorities of the occupied Donbas and the Russian Federation are now pressing for one issue – the so-called Steinmeier formula. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is Germany's former Minister of Foreign Affairs who actively participated in the Minsk peace process, being a party to the Normandy format, including Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France. He has recently been elected president of Germany whose inauguration is scheduled for March 19, 2017.
Poroshenko names conditions for Donbas electionsThe formula foresees that the law on the special status of self-government in separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions should become effective on the day of local elections in Donbas.
"Just proceeding from this position that the jurisdiction of the adopted law on the peculiarities of local self-government [in Donbas] expires in September, we need to minimize internal political debates having no content, being aware that everything is much more complicated and being wiser in these matters," she said.
The Ukrainian side insists that the local election in Donbas could be held only after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the east of Ukraine.
"In spontaneous debates with our partners in recent days, we have once again clearly emphasized that the political provisions of the Minsk agreements [which also cover the local elections] can be implemented only after obvious and unquestionable progress in terms of security," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko once said.