Implementation of Steinmeier Formula needs honest actions from Russia

Kyiv, Ukraine: The implementation of so-called “Steinmeier Formula” needs honest actions from Russia now as Ukraine has already indicated to the world that its consent on the text of Formula in no way means Ukrainian recognition that all necessary security conditions for local elections have been already met, reports DND News Agency.

Ukrainian official circles explain that Ukraine has yet again demonstrated its commitment to peaceful resolution in Donbas and readiness to difficult compromises for achieving peace and Ukrainian actions including ceasefire initiative, disengagement of forces and voluntary mutual release of detainees are extra steps taken by Ukraine towards peaceful resolution in Donbas but Russia has to do what it has promised to international community.

It is pertinent to mention that so-called Steinmeier formula refers to a formula presented by the then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2016 for finding a way to break the deadlock in Minsk Agreement. Now Frank-Walter Steinmeier is President of Germany.

Implementation of Steinmeier Formula needs honest actions from Russia
Implementation of Steinmeier Formula needs honest actions from Russia

Formula is simplified version of the Minsk agreements. The philosophy behind this Formula is a way to get Ukraine and Russia to agree on the sequence of events outlined in Minsk Agreement.

Formula calls for elections to be held in the separatist-held territories under Ukrainian legislation and the supervision of the OSCE. If the OSCE judges the balloting to be free and fair, then a special self-governing status for the territories will be initiated and Ukraine will be returned control of its easternmost border.

This Formula was signed on October 1 by representatives of Ukraine and Russia along with other stakeholders.

Technically and honestly speaking, by agreeing on the text, based on Steinmeier formula, Ukraine has completed its part of job in the run-up to N4 Summit. However, current situation along the line of contact as well as safety situation in the certain areas of Donbas remain dire and require immediate improvement and here Russia has not fulfill commitments towards international communities including France, Germany and Europe at large.

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What Ukrainian official circles believes?

Ukrainian official circles believe that the so-called Steinmeier’s formula refers to the mechanism of entry into force of the Law of Ukraine “On the Special Order of Self-Government in Some Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” and provides that the said “Law” shall enter into force at 8 pm local time on the day of voting in early local elections in separate Luhansk districts which are designated and conducted in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine and the special Law of Ukraine governing early local elections in the mentioned districts.

It will act on a provisional basis until the date of the publication of the summary report by the OSCE / ODIHR Election Observation Mission, based on established OSCE ODIHR practice, on the overall compliance of early local elections with OSCE and international democratic election standards, as well as with Ukrainian legislation.

Ukraine has yet again demonstrated its commitment to peaceful resolution in Donbas and readiness to difficult compromises to this end.

Following ceasefire initiative, disengagement of forces and voluntary mutual release of detainees, Ukraine has taken a new significant effort towards peaceful resolution in Donbas.

By agreeing on the text, based on Steinmeier formula, Ukraine has completed its part of job in the run-up to N4 Summit.

Now it is time for other party – Russia – to contribute.

Ukraine looks forward to concrete decisions at the forthcoming N4 Summit towards peaceful resolution and restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty in Donbas, as well as to implementation of those decisions by Russia fully and in good faith.

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The text, agreed on 1 October by Ukraine and Russia with the OSCE mediating efforts in the TCG framework, represents a mechanism aimed at implementing one of the Minsk Agreements’ provisions, notably the entry into force of the Law on special order of self-governance in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The formula in no way substitutes the entire set of MA or changes their “security first” logic.

Given that the period of validity of the current Law on special order is expired after 31 December 2019, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that a new Law will be elaborated in the Parliament in close cooperation with the civil society.

To come into effect this Law must be preceded by the local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, held in full compliance with Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards under OSCE/ODIHR monitoring.

This means, in particular, voting rights for IDPs, participation of the Ukrainian political parties, free functioning of the Ukrainian media and unhindered international observation. All Ukrainian institutions, engaged into election-related activities, Ukrainian law enforcement and judiciary should be fully operational in the certain areas of Donbas to ensure the elections are conducted in line with the Ukrainian legislation. The leading role of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine in managing the electoral process must be secured.

Security is a must for establishing necessary conditions for launching the electoral process. Implementation of the initial security provisions of the Minsk Package of measures, withdrawal of foreign armed formations and mercenaries, disarmament of all illegal groups, as well as reinstatement of border control will be crucial in this regard.

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Ukraine’s consent on the text, based on the so-called “Steinmeier formula”, in no way means our recognition that all necessary security conditions for local elections have been already met. Quite the contrary, current situation along the line of contact as well as safety situation in the certain areas of Donbas remain dire and require immediate improvement.

Safe and secure environment will open the door for holding local elections in Donbas in full accordance with the international standards for democratic elections, enshrined in particular in the 1990 CSCE Copenhagen Document and other OSCE documents.

It is absolutely essential for the credibility of the OSCE/ODIHR assessment to cover the entire electoral process: before, during and after elections, as prescribed in the 1994 CSCE Budapest Document. Access of candidates, media, IDPs and observers; their safety and security; equal opportunities for campaigning, political, security and legal frameworks, election administration and possible external influence must be crucial elements, along with the situation on election day, for assessing the local elections in Donbas.

Ukraine will continue its tireless efforts to stop hostilities and bring peace back to Donbas. Restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity in internationally recognized borders, de-occupation of Donbas will remain at the core of these efforts.