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09:46 05 Nov 2020

Ukraine offers a Donbas plan: Stop conflict and demilitarize ORDLO in early 2021, and hold elections there in March

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Ukraine proposes to end the conflict in Donbas completely and demilitarize ORDLO in early 2021.

The Head of the Ukrainian delegation in the Trilateral Contact Group Leonid Kravchuk announced this.

According to him, Ukraine has prepared a Joint Action Plan for the TCG. It contains a proposal to end the conflict altogether and demilitarize separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) in early 2021, to create all the conditions needed for holding local elections there on March 31 of the same year.

"The first thing we offer to do is to stop the armed conflict and carry out full demilitarizing ORDLO. It's a starting point. So, all militant groups, mercenaries, weapons must be withdrawn from this territory. Illegal militant groups should be disbanded. And it should be done in early 2021," Kravchuk said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

He added that after that Ukraine should take control of the border and ensure normal life in these areas.

Kyiv will insist that OSCE observers have safe access to the entire territory of Ukraine.

"We hope that the Russian Federation, Germany, and France will support our proposal. Because monitoring the Ukrainian-Russian border in Donetsk and Luhansk regions requires active work and constant informing," he added.

All-for-all exchange

Ukraine will also demand full and unconditional access of international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all detainees. The Plan mentions the timeline until mid-November 2020, and the final mutual release of detainees on an all-for-all basis must take place no later than December 15, 2020.

Amnesty issue

The Head of the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG stressed that it would be important to regulate responsibility for those who took part directly in the fighting in Donbas. It is also important to avoid punishment for those who aren't guilty of any crimes.

"We should do it by adopting a law draft in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Its text will need discussion in the TCG working group on political issues. We need the issues of responsibility resolved according to the law, carefully taking into account the situation in Donbas, and taking into account the experience of other countries. Because there are criminals, people who came there to kill for money. We must hold them accountable, and others should live and work normally on their own Ukrainian land," he explained.

Donbas elections

According to Kravchuk, local elections must be held on separate territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) no later than March 31, 2021,  under the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, and in compliance with the OSCE standards, i.e. the 1990 Copenhagen Document.

"Besides, it'll be necessary to adopt a law on the peculiarities of holding local elections in ORDLO. I think the Verkhovna Rada has already done a lot in this direction. We need to establish all these developments, look at their content, and take into account the changes that have taken place. Then they should make an appropriate decision," the politician added.

Creating a Free Economic Zone

Ukraine will also propose creating a Free Economic Zone in the terms of implementing a special order of local self-government in ORDLO.

"Without it, it'll be impossible to restore the economy there. In our view, the Free Economic Zone should operate approximately by 2050. Estimations show that this time will bring the Donbas region to normal," Kravchuk said.

Meeting in the Normandy format

The Ukrainian party would like to hold a meeting of the Normandy format leaders by the end of 2020.

"So they assess an agreement-implementing process. What has been done, what hasn't been done. And so that they certainly discuss security conditions and political conditions for local elections, saying explicitly that local elections in ORDLO are possible only under certain proper conditions," Kravchuk stressed.

He added that the Joint Action Plan is not a replacement for what they have already done in the six years of the Normandy format and the TCG.

"It's a document that corresponds to the realities and what has been done. With its help, we want to supplement or clarify those issues that have not been widely, accurately and specifically represented in previous documents," he explained.

Kravchuk also stated that the document should take into account the proposals and interests of all parties.

"It should be a document that takes into account what we have done and what we see tomorrow. We should take the proposals of all parties into account. Only such a document will have the right to life, be accepted and implemented by all parties. So that the plan is real, we have found the middle way meeting the interests of all parties, and, most importantly, the people living in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas," the Head of the Ukrainian delegation in the TCG concluded.

On November 5, Ukraine's TCG plan will be sent to the OSCE Chairperson's Special Representative, Heidi Grau.

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