Ukraine presidential elections `crucial`, says German foreign minister

German Foreign Minister who is in Kiev on Tuesday stressed on the significance of May 25 presidential elections and suggested that the vote could be crucial to resolving the crisis fomenting in eastern towns.

Last Updated: May 13, 2014, 14:22 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Kiev: German Foreign Minister who is in Kiev on Tuesday stressed on the significance of May 25 presidential elections and suggested that the vote could be crucial to resolving the crisis fomenting in eastern towns.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew to Kiev on Tuesday with the agenda of encouraging dialogue between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels, who have declared independence in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions after referendums.

Speaking to reporters after talks with the Ukrainian authorities, Mr Steinmeier expressed hope that the May 25 elections would go a long way in steering the country out of the crisis and "bring back occupied territory, disarm armed groups step-by-step and reinstall the authority of the state," reported the AFP.

Steinmeier`s visit comes close on the heels of the fresh referendums held in Ukraine`s eastern towns of Donetsk and Luhansk, where the rebels have declared self-rule and are now may seek union with Russia.

His trip is intended to begin implementing a road map for settling the crisis laid out by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a top trans-Atlantic security and rights group.

Russia, which is an OSCE member, has welcomed its efforts to mediate the crisis and spoken in support of the road map.

Pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government buildings and clashed with government forces during the past month, held Sunday`s referendum, which Ukraine`s acting president called a "sham" and Western governments said violated international law.

The insurgents who organized and supervised the balloting claimed that about 90 percent of voters backed sovereignty, and the two regions declared independence Monday. Insurgents in Donetsk even asked to join Russia, but the Kremlin has shown no immediate intention to subsume eastern Ukraine following Crimea`s annexation.

Instead, Moscow pushed for talks between Ukraine`s central government and eastern regions in negotiations on Ukraine`s future — a cautious stance suggesting that Russia prefers a political rather than a military solution to its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War.

The OSCE plan presented Monday by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter calls on all sides to refrain from violence and urges immediate amnesty, talks on decentralization and the status of the Russian language.
Russia has welcomed the initiative, which reflects some key demands of insurgents who have denounced the central government as a "fascist junta" bent on trampling on the rights of Russian speakers.

With Agency Inputs