3 Oct 2018 18:16

OSCE hopes that Kuchma's decision to finish work in C0ontact Group on Donbas will not affect talks

MINSK/DONETSK. Oct 3 (Interfax) - The replacement of Ukraine's representative in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on Donbas will not reflect on the negotiation process, OSCE Special Envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) for Ukraine Martin Sajdik said.

Sajdik told reporters in Minsk on Tuesday after the TCG meeting the TCG meeting had not discussed Kuchma's replacement as Ukraine's representative.

Darka Olifer, press officer for Ukraine's second president Leonid Kuchma, said earlier on Tuesday Kuchma was completing his work as Kyiv's representative in the TCG on Donbas.

Responding to a question as to who will represent Ukraine in the next TCG meeting in Minsk on October 16, Sajdik said that "someone should be."

An official with the Foreign Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said Kuchma's decision to leave his post of Ukraine's representative in the Contact Group in Minsk might have a negative impact on the further negotiation process, especially before the expiration of the law on the "special status" of Donbas.

The most important and urgent issue in the political group is now the prolongation of the law on the special status of Donbas and its subsequent enactment on a permanent basis using the Steinmeier mechanism [...] Kyiv is interested in doing everything possible to delay the peace settlement process. That can also be negatively impacted by the change of negotiators - information on Leonid Kuchma's resignation was officially confirmed in the Contact Group meeting today," he told reporters on Tuesday.

The DPR Foreign Ministry official also said Donetsk respects the decision made by the Ukrainian negotiator to resign, but believes that the timing is not very good.

"The time chosen to leave, when the issue of prolongation of the special status of Donbas and the fulfillment of Ukraine's obligations on amnesty and decentralization are the most acute, also has significance. None of these obligations has been fulfilled by Kyiv and the current administration of Ukraine currently has no political will for that," the ministry official said.

The law On Special Self-Government Procedures in Some Areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions was passed by Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada in September 2014 and it took effect on October 18, 2014. Initially, it was to stay in effect for three years. On October 6, 2017, the Verkhovna Rada again voted on the "social status" of Donbas, prolonging it by another year. As a result, the law expires on October 18, 2018.