Europeans unpleased with result of marathon talks over Ukraine

PARIS, March 4 (KUNA) — French and German officials said on Friday fresh diplomatic efforts for reviving the political process to end the strife in Ukraine has made inconclusive results and virtually no tangible progress.
The declaration about the futile bid to work out a full-fledged settlement to the crisis came following a marathon meeting that grouped foreign ministers of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia, basically aimed at tackling conditions in eastern Ukraine, enforcing a cease-fire and holding local elections in the troubled region.
French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the conferees reached “a declaration” to hold the poll in the Ukranian city, Donbass, by end of 2016. The ministry said securing the elections would warrant serious cooperation from authorities in Kiev and Moscow, affirming that outcome of the meeting was short of the aspired objectives.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, as cited by the official statement, called on the warring parties to abstain from using arms, provide information about field conditions to the European mission charged with overseeing the security situation in Ukraine and withdraw all heavy arms without delay.
Ayrault also called for removing mines, securing delivery of relief aid to civilians and releasing prisoners by April 30.
“There is readiness to press ahead with the Ukraine’s file and we have made some headways on some issues,” the minister said, adding that the Ukranian and Russian sides remained at odds over a host of issues.
Meanwhile, his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said he was displeased with “the way Kiev and Moscow have been conducting the negotiations,” affirming that the talks made no progress toward major political settlement to the conflict in Ukraine.
Western powers believe holding elections in eastern Ukraine is necessary in the process for re-integration of the nation, but eye Moscow’s policies there with great suspicion.
Fighting between Ukraine’s Army and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine has largely subsided since working out a truce in September 2015, however the region continues to witness intermitted violence. The area is also infested with a large number of lethal mines. (end) mmb.rk