5 Dec 2019 19:29

DPR says substitution of its TCG representatives unacceptable

DONETSK. Dec 5 (Interfax) - The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) is certain that if a decision who to sit down with at the negotiating table is left entirely to Kyiv, the Donbas conflict settlement process will become pointless.

"Kyiv's ideas about changing the makeup of the [Trilateral] Contact Group [TCG] run counter to the whole point of the Minsk process aimed at sitting the conflicting sides down at the negotiating table to settle their conflict. If Kyiv choses on its own who to hold talks with, then the whole process will lose its meaning," DPR foreign minister Natalia Nikonorova told journalists on Thursday.

Ukraine does not want to negotiate with "legitimate representatives from the republics defending the legitimate interests of their people, and instead is planning to select 'talking heads' who would express a convenient [for Ukraine] point of view," she said.

"They will not succeed. Neither we nor the international mediators of the Minsk process will allow a review of the agreements approved by the UN Security Council resolution."

She recalled that the Package of Measures stipulated special status parameters precisely for Donbas: language self-determination, allowing local government to appoint prosecutors and judges and sign agreements with Kyiv on economic, cultural and social development, having people's militia, and so on.

"It is this specifics that Kyiv must take into account when reforming its constitution to entrench the special status for Donbas, in accordance with Clause 11 of the Package of Measures. The current Ukrainian draft neither contains, nor can possibly contain such provisions because it is meant for whole of Ukraine. This is an attempt at substituting notions. Put simply, a bluff," Nikonorova said, noting that the amendments should be agreed first with the DPR and LPR, not with Russia or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

"The same is true of the local elections that Ukraine intends to hold in the fall of 2020, at the same time as the rest of its regions. We remind the government in Kyiv that under the Steinmeier formula version approved by [Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy] Yermak and signed by [Leonid] Kuchma, the elections in Donbas will be extraordinary and not depend in any way on the Ukrainian electoral cycle. Kyiv's unilateral actions only negate the small successes that have appeared in the Minsk process lately," Nikonorova said.

Earlier on Thursday Yermak said that Ukraine would propose that the TCG talks in Minsk should involve representatives from the Ukraine-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.