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5th Germany Breakfast Debate in Kyiv: “One year after the Normandy Summit in Paris: What is next?”

On 9 December 2019, the heads of government of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France met in Paris. Even though the conflict over the occupied terri­tories in Eastern Ukraine continues, the parties’ willingness to talk sent an important positive signal. Furthermore, concrete steps were agreed upon, which could be partially imple­mented in the meantime.

During the 5th Germany Breakfast Debate, which took place as a hybrid format in Kyiv on 11 December 2020, not only the current state of the peace negoti­a­tions was discussed, but also the future. What is the Ukrainian government doing for the reinte­gration of the occupied terri­tories? And what can be done by Germany and the inter­na­tional community to advance the negoti­ation process?

We are pleased that we were again able to win high-ranking experts from both Germany and Ukraine for this discussion. The Deputy Minister and Minister for the Reinte­gration of the temporarily occupied terri­tories in Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov was present in Kyiv. Matthias Lüttenberg, Head of Division for Bilateral Relations with the States of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus in the Federal Chancellery, and Bertram von Moltke, envoy of the German Embassy in Ukraine, joined virtually.

The breakfast discussion was opened by IEP Director Katrin Böttger and Alyona Getmanchuk, Director of the New Europe Center (NEC) in Kyiv. In the main part of the event that followed, the speakers empha­sised the ceasefire that has been in place since July 2020 and has been stable without precedent except for isolated incidents. Likewise, an exchange of prisoners has taken place, even if the principle of “all against all” has not yet been fully imple­mented. On the Ukrainian side, new check­points have been estab­lished and there has been progress in the demining process. Overall, there is a consid­erable political will within the Verkhovna Rada to settle the conflict. This is also reflected in their plans for reinte­gration. In terms of both foreign and domestic policy, Kyiv has clearly defined its room for manoeuvre. On the Russian side, however, the steps agreed upon at the last Normandy Summit are not being imple­mented quite as consis­tently, which sometimes gives the impression that they are stalling for time.

Germany remains committed to the terri­torial integrity of Ukraine and adheres to the Minsk agree­ments, which also guarantee the contin­u­ation of the Normandy Summit. In addition, the German Government actively supports the Ukrainian reform process. During the discussion, the experts expressed great optimism that this course will be maintained after the German parlia­mentary elections in 2021. The monitoring role of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine was also positively highlighted.

Questions and comments from the audience mainly concerned possible means of exerting pressure on the Russian Feder­ation and the experts’ assessment, whether the US admin­is­tration under Joe Biden will perhaps be involved differ­ently and whether it might be possible for the US and Germany to adopt a common transat­lantic position again. During the discussion the impor­tance of maintaining dialogue formats was repeatedly empha­sised. This does not only apply to the high diplo­matic level, but also to initia­tives such as the GURN breakfast debates.

The Germany Breakfast Debates are part of the project “German Ukrainian Researchers Network” (GURN). GURN aims at estab­lishing a German-Ukrainian research network for junior and senior researchers and their organ­i­sa­tions, strength­ening country expertise and promoting joint cooper­ation projects. GURN is conducted in close cooper­ation with the Ilko Kucheriv Democ­ratic Initia­tives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv), the think tank devel­opment and research initiative think twice UA (Kyiv), the New Europe Center (NEC, Kyiv) and is kindly supported by the Federal Foreign Office.