France still committed to resolving Ukraine conflict - Minister

Ukraine – Statements by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at his joint press conference with Mr Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister of Ukraine

Paris, 26 February 2021

THE MINISTER – Ladies and gentlemen,

Today in Paris I’m pleased to be hosting Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who did me the honour of answering my invitation despite the difficult health situation.

Our meeting provided an opportunity to discuss all the bilateral cooperation issues, particularly regarding economic relations between our two countries, which are developing very dynamically thanks to key partnerships between businesses from our two countries.

Today I noted the dynamism of our bilateral relationship, which has been revitalized since President Zelensky visited Paris in June 2019 and which was also demonstrated at the meeting of the Joint Economic Commission held in Paris in November last year.

I reiterated France’s support for the desire of Ukraine and President Zelensky to continue their efforts on the demanding path of reform, particularly on judicial matters and in the fight against corruption.

This morning we also discussed the conflict in the Donbass. We remain absolutely committed alongside Germany, within the Normandy format, to a resolution of this conflict. So we’re working on the implementation of the conclusions agreed at the Normandy-format summit held in Paris on 9 December 2019. We’d like everyone concerned to implement in good faith the commitments made and continue the constructive discussions on the agenda agreed at that summit.

I’d also like to recall, on this seventh anniversary of the Russian takeover of Crimea, which led to its illegal annexation, that France does not and will not recognize that annexation. And overall, we support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

On all these issues, France and its European partners will continue to stand alongside Ukraine to help it build a prosperous, stable and democratic society.

Thank you. (…)

Q. – Hello, I wanted to know if your talks also covered regional security and political issues, and particularly if you both discussed the situation in Armenia. Thank you.

THE MINISTER – We didn’t discuss the Armenia issue. I understand why you’ve asked me about it, given that yesterday we saw very significant demonstrations, with risks of violence. We’re very committed to Armenian democracy and to the stability of that country, which has deep democratic roots. And France would like dialogue to be established in the country, based on the legitimacy of the Armenian President and Prime Minister, so that this dialogue can lead to a calmer situation in a country that has gone through difficult times, in the context of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh; we think the support we’re showing Armenia now should allow for a more stable and calmer situation. I also note that in Yerevan this morning the situation had become calm again. I think the components of Armenian democracy should hold firm.

Q. – My question is about the Normandy [-format] summit. Has the date already been set for the future summit of the four leaders? With this in mind, do you think it’s possible to go back to the content of the Minsk agreements, i.e. perhaps towards a Minsk III, given that the context has changed a lot in the past six years and that the current situation is something of an impasse? Thank you.

THE MINISTER – The benchmark now is the Paris agreements of December 2019. Those agreements were a step forward. I believe President Zelensky’s arrival and his first attendance at this type of body was a very positive and significant factor. The road map that was agreed then is still on the table. There’s been progress on security that has been reflected in a ceasefire, which has been observed but which is now beginning to falter a little. There’s been progress on the opening of crossing points, there’s been progress in heavy weapons disengagement zones, there’s been progress on mine clearance. Significant progress has begun to be made on the whole area of security. But at political level, it’s fallen far short of our expectations. So we must follow up the conclusions of this Paris meeting in order to reactivate the political dimension of the agreement, and especially be vigilant on the security dimension. The Normandy format seems to me the right one for continuing these discussions, even though at the moment it’s more complicated because of COVID, but this format has been recognized by everyone as the right one for moving forward. But in order to move forward, all the players must obviously be determined to do so./.

Published on 26/02/2021

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