BRUSSELS, March 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
French MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser says the Minsk 2 ceasefire deal is expected to offer the "best chance" for peace in crisis-torn Ukraine.
The deputy was speaking in Brussels where he revealed that the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine's two breakaway regions, had agreed to approve the proposal to hold an international forum he has convened for later this year.
Presenting their confirmation letters at a news conference, Schaffhauser said the presidents of the two republics had told him they were "ready to welcome" international guests to the conference in May.
The MEP, speaking on Wednesday in the European Parliament, said preparations were already underway for the "forum for peace and unity."
Schaffhauser said he believes the Minsk 2 agreement was the "best chance" for peace and called on both sides in the conflict to "fully implement" its proposals.
When asked about implementation, the deputy reminded the audience that the countries that had brokered the February ceasefire agreement, France and Germany, had a "responsibility" to ensure there was "direct dialogue" between Kiev and Donbass.
However, Schaffhauser went on to say that, thus far, there had been "no dialogue, but only "unilateral measures" taken by Kiev.
The MEP, a non-attached member of the Parliament, said the "same principle" applied to the issue of local elections in Donbass, pointing out that Article 12 of the Minsk Agreement obligated Kiev to "take all legal steps" to undertake this.
The Ukraine government, Schaffhauser went on, had also failed to establish working bodies, or ad hoc groups, with representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk, authorities to "discuss all major aspects" of how Minsk 2 will be put into practice.
He told journalists, "Thus far, we see no such working groups and the responsibility for this lies fully on Kiev's side."
The MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament's influential foreign affairs committee, expressed a "strong desire" to remind the leaders of both France and Germany that they are "responsible for peaceful developments" of both the two Ukrainian regions following implementation of Minsk 2.
He said he plans to write to French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking each to press the authorities in Kiev on this point.
Schaffhauser is the driving force behind the peace forum, which will comprise parliamentarians and representatives from civil society.
He confirmed that the forum will meet for the first time in Donetsk on 11 and 12 May under the working title, "Donbass: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."
The two-day event will be attended by MEPs along with representatives of the governments of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
He insisted, however, that any lasting solution must include an unspecified measure of autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk, which are mostly Russian-speaking regions.
"Minsk 2 specifically states that discussions have to take place on special status for Donetsk and Luhansk. If a solution can be found to this issue that would represent a very big jump on the roads towards a lasting and sustainable peace."
He also told the mostly Brussels-based reporters that a website had been created (http://www.forumdonbass.com ) for anyone seeking information about the forum.
The participants of the forum intend to discuss the future status of the Donbass region, respecting the "specific political, economic, social and cultural" areas of eastern Ukraine.
It also supports humanitarian initiatives for the reconstruction of the areas destroyed by the fighting.
Another objective is that the terms of the ceasefire agreed in Minsk are fully implemented.
For further infomation please visit http://www.forumdombass.com
SOURCE The Office of Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, MEP