Donetsk, Dec 5 - DAN. Ukrainian authorities have to give up the idea of replacing  Contact Group members and begin the implementation of the peace accords, Donetsk People’s Republic Foreign Minister, the Republic’s envoy to the Minsk talks Natalia Nikonorova said on Thursday.

Earlier, Ukrainian presidential aide Andrey Yermak said at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London that Kiev proposed to expand or change the list of LPR and DPR representatives in the Contact Group.

"Instead of inventing new formats of talks in Minsk, inviting new participants or replacing current ones, Ukraine had better keep its end of the bargain and start fulfilling the obligations under the Package of Measures. Kiev authorities openly state that they will never grant a special status to the Republics, trying to substitute it with the notion of decentralisation, and blatantly lie that their Constitution conforms to the Package of Measures provisions," Nikonorova said.

The very idea to replace Contact Group members fully contradicts the essence of the Minsk process which is meant to sit the conflicting sides at the negotiating table to work out a peace deal. “If Kiev chooses who it talks with, the whole process stops making sense. Obviously, Ukrainian authorities do not wish to come to terms with the legitimate representative of the Republics who stand for the people’s lawful interests; instead, they plan to choose “talking heads” who will promote the point of view convenient to Ukraine, she said.

The diplomat believes that Kiev insists on replacing the negotiators because of the Donbass Republics’  tough stance on having Russia, which mediates the talks like the OSCE, join the negotiations.

The Agreements dated 5 and 19 September 2014 and 12 February 2015 forged by the Contact Group in Minsk make groundwork for a peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict. The Contact Group set forth a peace plan and agreed a ceasefire, then adopted the Memorandum on ceasefire implementation and later on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

It envisioned immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Donbass, withdrawal of heavy weapons, establishment of security zones, discussion of the modalities for the resumption of payment of pensions and allowances to DPR and LPR citizens, and constitutional reform in Ukraine which should result in deep decentralisation. A special status for Donbass is a key point of the political part of the agreements.*jk