The German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said that elections in the occupied Donbas region will be held within the next months. However, the Ukrainian representative to the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, Roman Bezsmertnyi, has urged Europe to think primarily about the safety of the people in the region, and not about elections.
“Until now, only the processes of the elections have been discussed in Minsk and not the electoral law. These elections are out of the question until the safety of the citizens has been ensured. According to the Minsk Agreements, the elections are the third item on the agenda after ensuring the security of the region and the release of prisoners. We are ready for discussions on how we can implement this,” Bezsmertnyi said while speaking on Ukrainian Channel 5.
“We can discuss the political issue only after the conflict has ended and the hostages are released. It is very important to bring this issue to the attention of the EU and the US. It is not Ukraine preventing OSCE access and humanitarian aid. Ukraine continues to act in a positive manner. It has been almost a year since the amount of OSCE missions should have been increased. Why hasn't it happened? The Russian Federation does not allow it to, that is why,” Bezsmertnyi explained.
According to him, any elections held in Donbas would only worsen the current political crisis.
“The people will not understand. As soon as the election issue is raised, the amnesty issue will be raised as well. It is impossible to hold these elections in Donbas within the next six months. If we look at the issue of voter registration, we will see that it does not exist. Over the last two years, babies have been born, people have reached the age of 18, residents have died and some have moved away. The register does not exist and it will take time to compile it,” Bezsmertnyi concluded.
He also stated that the first point of discussion during negotiations in Paris should be the fact that Russia has been supplying arms to separatists in the Donbas region.