On 7th January, a diplomatic scandal broke on the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Embassy of Germany in Kyiv. Ambassador of Germany to Ukraine Ernst Reichel in an interview with RBC-Ukraine about terms of the Minsk agreements, elections in the occupied part of Donbas and control restoration on the Ukraine-Russia border, stated: “It is not necessarily that the elections in the Donbas can only take place when there are no Russian troops and Ukrainian flag flies on each city administration.” He also stated that the elections should be held in the conditions that will correspond to European standards and Ukrainian politicians should be able to hold their campaign without fear. If these conditions are not possible, then such elections will not meet the standards. The diplomat cited an example of the past when the last parliamentary elections in the GDR, intended to replace the communist regime, were held in the presence of the Western Group of the Soviet troops and with the communist regime being in power.
Such statements of the ambassador caused an outcry from the Ukrainian parliament and society.
UCMC collected basic statements of Ukrainian and German politicians on elections in Donbas.
Ambassador contradicts the official policy of Germany
MP of Ukraine Hanna Hopko on behalf of the Ukrainian Parliament expressed outrage at such statements of the German ambassador, because they contradict the official policy of Germany, the Minsk agreements and all peaceful settlement efforts. She stressed that Parliament’s position is quite clear – there will be no elections in Donbas until Russian troops are withdrawn from the Ukrainian territory, until Ukrainian troops restore control of the Ukraine-Russia border. Hopko called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to summon the German Ambassador to discuss his interview and statements, and to boycott the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the German Embassy in Ukraine.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin commented on Twitter that Ukraine has witnessed two elections at Russian gun point [referendum in Crimea and proclamation of “Donetsk and Luhansk republics,” UCMC], and has had enough of this farce.
Angela Merkel: It is dangerous in Donbas for elections
In June 2016, at the joint briefing with Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, Аngela Merkel said that the elections in Donbas cannot take place now due to objective reasons: it is dangerous in Donbas. First, a joint plan for reconciliation and ceasefire should be developed.
Statements by German politicians: Russia is responsible for the conflict
Johannes Rehenbreht, Head of the German Foreign Ministry’s Task Force to Ukraine, in an interview on Hromadske said, that “the main responsibility for the return of security in the east of Ukraine lies on the Russian Federation. There is no doubt. The border remains open, Russian weapons continue to be delivered [to Ukraine], we know well about close involvement of Russia in the conflict development in eastern Ukraine. The truce can be stable only when the weapons and armed groups are withdrawn.”
Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the German Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, stated that the crisis in Ukraine began with the Russian aggression, the Russian Federation has used military force against Ukraine and crossed its borders. “Russia has not fulfilled the requirements that are clearly written in the Minsk agreements. And of course, they should withdraw heavy weapons and demilitarize the region.”
Statements by Ukrainian politicians: police mission, default of security requirements
The President of Ukraine has repeatedly stated that the local elections in Donbas “should take place under Ukrainian law in strict accordance with the OSCE standards and not at militants’ gunpoint.” Besides, the president spoke of the need for control over the border by the OSCE armed mission, which should stop supplies of Russian military and weapons. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, in turn, noted that this mission is impossible until the OSCE Charter is changed by voting of all States Parties.
In the summer of 2016, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush Tsintsadze discussed the impossibility of holding elections in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions with the PACE Monitoring Committee delegation. “This part of the Minsk agreements currently cannot be met because of the security situation. If the OSCE mission cannot get into some areas of eastern Ukraine, then how the Ukrainian authorities can hold elections there ?!” noted Klympush-Tsintsadze.
OSCE: under what conditions to hold elections?
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier stressed that the issue of elections in the territories of Donbas uncontrolled by Ukraine remains to be pressing. “We have to see whether the elections will be held and when they will be held. ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – Ed.) Is to assess the level of security. Then we will assess what international contingent is needed, start working to ensure the proper holding of elections and assess whether the international observers can visit these elections without the risk.”
Statements by militants on the elections: denial of access to Ukrainian parties and the media
Speaker of DPR “People’s council” Andriy Purhin stated that the militants will not allow Ukrainian parties and public organizations to be present at the elections in Donbas.
Head of the DPR Olexandr Zakharchenko stated that they will not allow the Ukrainian media supporting the Ukrainian government in covering Donbas to cover the local elections. He implied all the Ukrainian media.