High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell says there will be no normalization of relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation without the fulfillment by Russia of the Minsk peace agreement on Donbas.
He announced this at a joint press conference with European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Várhelyi and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal after an EU-Ukraine Association Council meeting on February 11, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
"During my meetings with Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Russian, Sergei] Lavrov it was clear that we [the European Union] defend Ukrainian sovereignty, [its] territorial integrity; that we talked about the human rights violations on the Crimean peninsula; and clear, we requested the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements, which is a strong condition in the relationship between the European Union and Russia. This was high in the agenda, we discussed a lot. I am not going to go into the details, but as far as the Minsk agreements are not being fulfilled, the normalisation of the relations between the European Union and Russia will not happen," he said.
He said he also had reassured Prime Minister Shmyhal of the European Union's "unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders."
"This is a message that I also passed in my meeting last week to Foreign Minister [of Russia, Sergei] Lavrov, including the need to fulfil and implement the Minsk agreements," he said.
He reiterated the European Union does not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
"We will continue to fully support the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said. "We will continue to support the efforts in the Normandy format, the Trilateral Contact Group and in the OSCE format."
"The duration of our economic sanctions against Russia remains linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements," he said.
Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia: Known facts
- After the Russian Federation occupied Crimea and Donbas, the EU imposed political and economic sanctions against the occupying state.
- On February 12, 2015, Minsk hosted negotiations on the settlement of the Donbas crisis with the participation of the then Presidents of Ukraine and France, Petro Poroshenko and Francois Hollande, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- As a result of the negotiations, the so-called package of measures was approved aimed at the implementation of the Minsk agreements, reached in September 2014. This set of measures was signed by the members of the Trilateral Contact Group on resolving the situation in Donbas.
- The deal reached by the Normandy Four leaders stipulates, among other provisions, a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and the withdrawal of all heavy weapons from Ukrainian territory. It also provides for a swap and release of all detainees, as well as the holding of local elections in Donbas.
- In March 2015, the EU pegged the anti-Russia sanctions to the implementation of the Minsk agreements by the Russian authorities.