Statement on Donbass Elections and the Results of
Normandy Four Talks of March 3, 2016
Source, Zakharchenko official website
March 7, 2016
Alexander Zakharchenko, President of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, spoke on March 4 about the results of the March 3 Paris foreign ministers’ meeting in the Normandy Format, saying “We agree on conducting elections, but the conditions of their implementation should be agreed upon by us.”
The DPR leader stated, “I want to remind everyone that the fate of the residents of Donbass cannot be decided in Paris. Believe me, I understand that Kiev would like to show that the Republic is the territory of Ukraine. But I now officially declare that Donbass is not the territory of Ukraine. We voted, we took up arms, we want to live freely.”
“Why do we feel this way?” said Zakharchenko. “I will explain, We were not satisfied with the coup that took place in Kiev. We were living in the country, then woke up in some gangster den in which armed people were allowed to seize power in the city. Did they capture the capital and take the whole country? No. That did not work. We also had the opportunity to take up arms, and we proved it.”
“Let the Ukrainians know that we, the residents of Donbass, do not want to live in Ukraine. I ask all the leaders of the Normandy Four countries to please consider our position. We have an opinion, in particular, about the conduct of elections. We agree to hold them, but we have to recognize them as legitimate. They must be recognized by the entire world community.”
Zakharchenko emphasized, “But we do not want to return. These are two different things. We have tens of thousands of people who are at the front. We, the millions, do not want to live according to Ukrainian laws. I now appeal to Germany, France, Washington and Kiev.”
“In particular,” the leader added, “I suggest to Kiev that they sit down at the negotiating table and talk. There should be a direct dialogue, as was written in the Minsk Agreements. In addition, all changes to the Constitution and all laws must be agreed to by us. The Czechoslovakian model is not the worst thing for Ukraine. If Kiev does not want to lose the country, let Poroshenko sit down to negotiate. We are ready.”
In another statement on March 5, Zakharchenko noted, “If other people try to come here, the people of Donbass will not change their minds about me, Igor Plotnitsky, and our parliament deputies. Or is Kiev hoping, as they said in the summer of 2014, to remove all the ‘separatists’ from Donbass and put them in concentration camps, then bring new people here from central and western Ukraine?”
The DPR President added, “In May 2014, a referendum was passed in the Donets Basin, which was attended by most of the population, and the majority of our people have decided to live their lives by their own rules. In November 2014, our people voted in the elections and chose a Head of State and People’s Council deputies. All records of the referendum and elections have been kept—any expert can review them. It was a fair referendum and democratic election. It is up to us, the people of Donbass, to handle negotiations on the future of our state. And if Poroshenko is uncomfortable sitting at the negotiating table with those to whom he lost on the battlefield, there is no one else I can offer him.”
“If he wants to be President of Ukraine,” Zakharchenko continued, “he will have to sit down at the negotiating table with those chosen by the citizens. We are once again witnessing double standards. Take Syria. Who did the Americans forcibly seat the the negotiating table? Field commanders, representatives of the ‘armed opposotion.’ Why are there other rules in this case. In fact, we can say that we are the ‘armed opposition’ only from the point of view of the authorities in Kiev, who came to power through a coup. So with whom is Kiev going to negotiate a political settlement? With themselves? Well, then, let them decide for themselves. To us, in Donbass, it will be irrelevant.”
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Foreign Ministers of Normandy Four held meeting in Paris
March 4, 2016
On March 3, foreign ministers of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia held a meeting in Paris in the Normandy format.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin late Thursday told the journalists after the five-hour talks of the Normandy Four top diplomats that these negotiations on the Ukrainian crisis were not decisive, but only the next step in the settlement, Joinfo.ua reports with reference to UNIAN.“It was a very difficult meeting. We came here with three key priorities. First was the security. Based on discussions with the OSCE SMM, we expressed clear proposals,” Klimkin said.
“We have focused on the need to exchange hostages. Everything that is happening now is the lack of any progress – we only managed to make a very limited swap,” said the minister.
Pavlo Klimkin also said that the main topic of discussion was the issue of the modality of elections. “Here, our main focus was on the need to ensure security and to have such election modalities, which would correspond to Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards,” Klimkin said.
Also, the Ukrainian foreign minister said the Ukrainian side “placed a special emphasis on the establishment of security zones, such as in Debaltseve, or around the Donetsk airport.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the meeting of the Normandy Four foreign ministers was one of the most difficult ones, and he was dissatisfied both with the situation in the east of Ukraine and the results of the meeting.
In addition, he said that the process of the withdrawal of weapons in Donbas had to be extended.
In turn, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault said that the plans to hold local elections in Donbas before July 2016 were announced during the talks.
He expressed hope that these elections would be held before July 2016.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the German and French initiative to hold the elections in Donbas before July, which is supported by Moscow, was rejected by the Ukrainian side, so “there is no consensus.”
Lavrov traditionally said that it is necessary to provide Donbas with a special status and grant amnesty and constitutional reform in order to hold elections in Donbas. Therefore, there are no shifts in preparation of the elections so far, he said.