A lot of work lies ahead to make it possible to hold Ukraine’s presidential elections, declared Chancellor Angela Merkel at the WDR Europaforum in Berlin. She sees the elections planned for 25 May as an interim goal for resolving the conflict peacefully. //
Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined the importance of continuing talks to de-escalate the crisis. She has been working consistently to bring about a diplomatic solution, she said, and has maintained contacts with both Russia and Ukraine. The interim goal of holding free presidential elections for all people in Ukraine has not, however, yet been achieved.
The policy of the German government with respect to Ukraine, explained Angela Merkel, is based on three principles. Firstly, to support Ukraine, because the people of Ukraine must be enabled to decide feely on their own future. Secondly, to keep open communication channels and find a diplomatic solution. And thirdly, should these efforts fail to produce results, sanctions must be an option. These cannot be an end in themselves, however.
The Chancellor declared that the idea of territorial expansion was no longer considered a threat in Europe. Europeans would also have wished that thinking in terms of spheres of influence was a thing of the past.
The old pattern of thinking in terms of blocs will not return, said Angela Merkel. The annexation of Crimea has, however, violated a fundamental principle of the post-war order. This is unacceptable for Europe.
The situation in Ukraine was also on the agenda of the Chancellor’s meeting with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The heads of state and government of the European Union had agreed on this approach, the Chancellor stated clearly.
The Chancellor emphasised "Russia’s responsibility in this process". The meeting between Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, and the Russian President had been very important in this context. "Now we must see that we get things moving forward."
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also welcomed the constructive attitude adopted by the Russian President Vladimir Putin following his meeting with Didier Burkhalter. What was discussed by the two of them in Moscow must now be translated in practice without delay, he added.
"We must now focus our efforts on making possible the elections on 25 May," said the Federal Foreign Minister. The presidential elections must lay the foundations for a new constitution. "In this, a national dialogue that involves suitable representatives of eastern Ukraine is vitally important," Frank-Walter Steinmeier continued.
Any postponement of the referendum in eastern Ukraine originally planned for 11 May is at least a sign of hope, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the WDR Europaforum. The overall situation in Ukraine does not currently preclude the possibility of a diplomatic solution.
One day earlier, in her opening speech at the History Campus for young Europeans in Berlin, the Chancellor also touched on the crisis in Ukraine. What we are seeing in Crimea is "a return with vengeance to outmoded ways of thinking", with the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. "Even if in the short term the law of the jungle might appear to have won through, in the long term it is the strength of the law that will prevail," said Angela Merkel.