Dear Mrs. Chancellor!
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to express gratitude to a great friend and reliable partner of Ukraine Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel for the constant and firm support provided by Germany to Ukraine in these difficult times.
Today, more than ever, Ukraine needs a hand of support of German people in the issue of economy, the issue of humanitarian aid, where the German Government actively helps us accommodate IDPs, the restoration of infrastructure in Donbas and the issue of overcoming the economic crisis caused by war. We consider Germany not only a reliable partner in bilateral relations, but also a leader of the European Union, which demonstrates unique unity and solidarity with Ukraine today. A great merit in this unity and solidarity belongs to the German Chancellor. Thank you for that.
Germany has played a crucial role in the support of European aspirations of Ukraine through the ratification of the Association Agreement signed on June 27, 2014 by me in the presence of Mrs. Chancellor and ratified recently by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Today it is ready to be signed. We can say that the pace with which the European countries ratify the Association Agreement demonstrates unconditional support that Ukraine has in the EU today. More than 18 countries have already ratified the agreement and the remaining countries are planning to do so shortly.
Of course, I would like to emphasize that the role of Germany and personally Mrs. Chancellor in the elaboration and signing the Minsk agreements, which took place exactly three months ago, is unique. We have spent 18 long hours in extremely difficult negotiations that have allowed us to create a document that is called Minsk-2 or the second Minsk agreements.
I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is an absolutely firm supporter of strict implementation of all 13 items of the Minsk agreements without exception. We demonstrate real progress in securing the ceasefire, withdrawal of troops and launching the sessions of the working subgroups held last week in Minsk. The best professionals were delegated there and we are interested in solving problems of the working groups in security, political, economic and humanitarian plane.
Unfortunately, today we have to admit that there is no ceasefire. Ukraine loses its best sons each day and cannot wait for the release of hostages from captivity. Today, more than 400 hostages are kept in inhuman conditions, in a humanitarian disaster, in captivity of militants. More than 30 Ukrainians are still in the dungeons of Russia. We insist and emphasize that Minsk must be fulfilled unconditionally and our citizens must be released as soon as possible, including Nadiya Savchenko, Hero of Ukraine, Ukrainian MP, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
We also insist on absolute fulfillment of the item on withdrawal of heavy weaponry and demilitarization of Shyrokyne. Together with Mrs. Chancellor, we have convinced to do so during a phone conversation in the Normandy format. We received clear commitment and assurance that permanent OSCE posts will be deployed in Shyrokyne, Donetsk Airport and 10 most hot points along the collision line; Shyrokyne and other areas will be demilitarized. This will contribute to de-escalation.
However, unfortunately, we do not see progress in this direction. I just want to endorse the statement of the OSCE made by Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, in which he clearly stated that all political processes, all economic processes, all processes that need to be addressed, including humanitarian plane, should be started only after we ensure firm ceasefire, guarantee withdrawal of heavy machinery and artillery, achieve the release of hostages, provide an opportunity for the OSCE inspectors to check all withdrawn weaponry’s storage places, establish control over the uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian border, terminate shipments of Russian weapons to militants and prevent border crossing by the Russian regular army.
Today, our talks with Mrs. Chancellor will be focused, inter alia, on the Minsk process. We express our firm hope that we will manage to ensure progress. We will also discuss the results of Mrs. Chancellor’s visit to Moscow. We believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements. As President of Ukraine, I stand for peaceful settlement of the situation in the East of Ukraine.