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Germany, France Urge Ukraine and Russia to Implement Minsk Accord

From left, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pose for a photo after their news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 23 2016.

Germany and France are urging Ukraine to fight corruption and pass legislation on an election in the pro-Russian east, as required by the cease-fire agreement, to help stem violence in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking Tuesday in Kyiv with his French and Ukrainian counterparts, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said there have been many violations of the ceasefire and the electoral law is being "postponed" by Ukraine, undermining the credibility of the Minsk process.

"Not just the three foreign ministers, but also the people in Ukraine, in Europe and in the world are waiting for progress to be made," Steinmeier said. "Progress in the area of security, we cannot accept that the agreed cease-fire is broken again and again. ... We need this progress for the people in Ukraine, but we also need this progress for the credibility of the Minsk process itself."

March meeting

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia are scheduled to meet in Paris in March.

The progress of that meeting would depend on Ukraine and Russia making "constructive, concrete commitments," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

"So without constructive and concrete engagement -- I repeat, in the faith of Ukraine and of Russia -- on the elections, and I say it, on the particular status of this territory, and our interlocutors have admitted this in principle, then France and Germany will lose their usefulness as mediators, we are not decision-makers, we are mediators," Ayrault said.

But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Ukraine has been committed to implement the Minsk accord in its entirety and accused Russia of diverging from the original document.

'Committed' to Minsk accord

"If we fully implement the Minsk agreement, as it was written, with all details, then there is future for Donbas," Klimkin said. "We are committed to the Minsk (agreement), but not to its Russian interpretation where Donbas' integration with Ukraine will keep it under semi-Russian influence and which will be integrated in a way that would destabilize the whole Ukraine."

The France- and Germany-mediated Minsk cease-fire accord -- as agreed to a year ago by Ukraine, Russia, and separatist rebels -- has not reached its stated goals, since fighting between government troops and pro-Russian forces in the Donbas region continue and local elections have not been held.

Political tension within Ukraine’s ruling coalition is impeding reform efforts and has been a contributing factor in the persisting conflict in eastern Ukraine which has claimed more than 9,000 lives since April 2014, when it started.