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Many questions left

Dagmar Engel / sstJuly 3, 2014

A joint statement by foreign ministers is very rarely a linguistic piece of art. It most definitely lacks clarity - as proven by the foreign ministers' statement on the crisis in Ukraine, writes DW's Dagmar Engel.

Außenministertreffen in Berlin 02.07.2014
Image: Reuters

The joint statement by the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany is roughly a page long. The gist of this statement: The contact group is supposed to meet no later than Saturday and negotiate a mutual, permanent truce.

The tight schedule makes it easy to control the first part of this demand - it's also likely that preparations for that meeting are already in full swing. If the ministers weren't in control of this deadline, why would they set it in the first place? Especially since they don't spell out consequences for a scenario in which this deadline were to be missed.

But is that also the case for mutual ceasefire negotiations? It's only then - if there is a truce - that joint border controls will be put in place by Ukraine and Russia which is the second concrete demand of the statement.

Nothing comes for free

Listening to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praising German Chancellor Angela Merkel and thanking Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier multiple times was almost uncomfortable.

Kommentarfoto Dagmar Engel Hauptstadtstudio
DW's Dagmar EngelImage: DW/S. Eichberg

If it wasn't just only a tactical move, this could symbolize Russia's willingness to give in.

If the Ukrainian government sees that the Russian government is using its influence on separatists to call for a truce, it might be easier for Ukraine to reverse its massive military mission.

"If" and "might"…it's words like these that can make or break the statement. It draws up a path, with the contact group's meeting as a first step. Is that enough?

Judging from the facial expressions and body language of the chief diplomats after this meeting, no one was too pleased with the outcome. Not a single smile anywhere.But at least they all went to dinner together afterwards.