In Kyiv, Steinmeier calls for more from Russia and Ukraine | News | DW | 29.05.2015
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In Kyiv, Steinmeier calls for more from Russia and Ukraine

Germany's foreign minister has called for faster reforms from Kyiv, also saying that the truce in eastern Ukraine's conflict had become "fragile." Separately, he accused Russia of instigating the fighting.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday praised Ukraine's government for the progress it had already made facing a "mammoth task" of keeping the country's economy in check while fighting separatists in the east of the country.

"We pay tribute to those reforms that you and this government have already put into motion," Steinmeier said to Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kyiv on Friday. "It is a mammoth task of which large parts have already been achieved and much more is still to come."

Ukraine's financial situation has been precarious - even before the outbreak of the current conflict. Among other creditors, Germany is providing a total of 700 million euros ($770 million) in financial assistance to Ukraine this year.

"Every day of the war costs us between $5 million and $7 million," Yatsenyuk said of the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. Any problems implementing February's Minsk ceasefire deal, Yatsenyuk said, were the fault of Russia and not his government.

Steinmeier noted, echoing a ministry spokesman's comments on Wednesday, that the February ceasefire - never wholly successful in stopping the fighting - had become more "fragile" in recent days. His comments coincided with an announcement from Paris that French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had held a phone conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging the rapid implementation of the terms of the Minsk agreement.

'Path of confrontation'

Steinmeier also held talks on Friday with Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) officials monitoring the conflict in Ukraine's east.

Prior to this, he told an audience at the Kyiv Security Conference that the conflict's root did not lie in Kyiv's bid for closer ties to the European Union, but in "the path of confrontation that Russia chose to take."

"Again, let's be clear: The path of closer cooperation has not led us into this conflict - but the path of confrontation!" Steinmeier said.

It was the start of a two-day trip to Ukraine by Germany's foreign minister.

On Saturday, Steinmeier will then travel to Ukraine's fourth-largest city, Dnipropetrovsk in the country's east, to sit down with officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

'No military solution'

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which Russia has denied supporting.

The annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea by the rebels further inflamed tensions between the West and Moscow, with much of the Western world imposing tough sanctions on Russia in an effort to bring an end to the fighting.

The February Minsk ceasefire deal, mediated by France and Germany, continues to be violated by both Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian sepratists.

Steinmeier said there was "no military solution" to the crisis, and urged both sides to implement the deal.

He warned Russia that until the truce is successfully enacted, sanctions against the country will not be lifted.

"We have told Russia our messages clearly enough," Steinmeier said. "The international sanctions against Russia are directly connected with the fulfillment of this agreement."

an/msh (AFP, dpa)

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