PRESS RELEASE / COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE
On March 17, 2015, in line with Ukraine’s obligations under the Minsk agreements, the Parliament of Ukraine endorsed a few legislative documents that are important for fostering the political track of the Minsk process. The said documents open the way for holding early local elections in Donbas, which are a key element of the broader political process. This move demonstrates Ukraine’s commitment to full implementation of the Minsk agreements of both September 2014 and February 2015.
1. A Law amending the Law of Ukraine on a special order of local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. It envisages the following amendments:
· The Law on a special order of local self-government shall enter into force after newly elected local authorities in the said areas start fulfilling their duties.
· The early local elections shall be held in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and OSCE/ODIHR standards of democratic elections, which envisage:
- monitoring by independent international observers, in particular from OSCE/ODIHR, who enjoy security and unimpeded access to the electoral process;
- retreat of all illegal armed groups and mercenaries from Ukraine and their non-interference into the electoral process;
- free participation of political parties in the electoral process;
- resumption of Ukrainian TV/radio broadcasting and printed media circulation in Donbas;
- free will and secret ballot, participation of internally displaced persons in the elections, transparent vote counting, vote and elections results.
· The special order of local self-government shall be carried out only by local authorities elected in the said elections.
These decisions confirm Ukraine’s commitment to the peaceful settlement in line with the Minsk agreements and do not contradict the logic of the said agreements. The amendments were taken to set proper conditions for holding the early local elections as soon as possible and in a democratic manner as only the election of legitimate representatives of certain areas of Donbas can lead to an effective dialogue and the ultimate settlement of the situation.
In this spirit, the adjustments incorporate provisions of Article 12 of the Package of Measures on holding early local elections in compliance with OSCE/ODIHR standards.
This incorporation will ensure that only legitimately elected local authorities rather than Russia-controlled militants in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions will enjoy the special order of local self-government and represent Donbas in a nationwide dialogue on the constitutional reform and decentralization in Ukraine.
These amendments are also expected to prevent militants from further abuses of the agreements as they did on November 2, 2014 when they defied the scheduled local elections in Donbas and held their own sham ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’.
Ukraine remains committed to implement the Law on a special order of local self-government and is ready to discuss modalities of holding local elections in the TCG.
2. A decree of the Parliament on specific areas, towns, settlements and villages of Donetsk and Lugansk region which fall under the Law on a special order of local self-government.
It establishes that the said areas etc. are confined by the Ukrainian-Russian borderline, a part of the Azov Sea coastline and the line of engagement of September 19, 2014.
This document was adopted in line with Ukraine’s obligation under Article 4 para 2 of the Package of Measures. The geographical measurements fully comply with the Minsk agreements of both September 2014 and February 2015.
3. A decree of the Parliament on recognizing certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions as occupied territories.
It states that the said areas will be considered the occupied territories until all foreign troops, illegal armed groups, their military equipment and mercenaries retreat from here.
This decision is to prevent that the militants, with Russia’s support, repeat their exercise of November 2, 2014 and reduce the local elections to elections at a gun’s barrel. Ukraine’s quest for retreat of armed people from Donbas also reflects OSCE/ODIHR standards which denounces any military presence during the electoral process.
4. A decree of the Parliament endorsing an address on behalf of Ukraine to the UN Security Council and the Council of the European Union to deploy an international peacekeeping operation in the territory of Ukraine.
This operation is viewed crucial for ensuring national security of Ukraine and immediate settlement of the crisis in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions and securing effective implementation of the Minsk agreements, in particular as regards stabilization of the situation on the ground and fostering progress on the political track.
Ukraine consistently implements the algorithm of the Minsk agreements, from de-escalation to political settlement, while Russia and Russia-backed militants continuously violate them.