Ukraine's President Zelensky, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of France Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Paris on December 9 at the Normandy Four summit. The expectations are high, to say the least. Let's specify them.
For the first time in three years, the meeting of the so-called Normandy Four shall take place on December 9. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany will meet in Paris.This meeting was persistently being prepared for a very long time. As a result, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that he managed to "succeed in pressuring", and had already carried out active preparations the day before.
What is the Normandy Format?
It all started on June 6, 2014 in the Chateau de Benouville (Normandy, France). Then, during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the first meeting of the Normandy Four took place.
The initiator of the meeting was the then president of France, François Hollande.
The longest meeting of the Four was held on February 11-12, 2015 in Minsk. Then the “Package of measures for implementation of Minsk agreement” was adopted and steps were developed.
Next year, in October on 2015, in Paris, the four leaders agreed that it isn't possible to implement the Minsk agreement for one thus the Minsk agreement was extended for another year per default.
The next (and last at the moment) meeting took place in the fall of 2016.
Were there any results?
The meetings were held in various versions, with the participation of the heads of the states or representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
In October 2014, the recently signed Minsk Protocol was discussed in Milan. In February 2015, when the Four held the longest meeting, the aforementioned “Package of measures for implementation of Minsk agreement” was adopted, which is still the main topic for discussion in the context of the Donbas war.
In October 2015, the parties of the meeting again agreed on the impossibility to perform Minsk agreement within a year.
No documents were signed at the last meeting in Berlin on October 19, 2016.
After it, Vladimir Putin refused further negotiations in the Normandy format.
According to President Zelensky, on December 9 Ukraine shall raise issues of prisoner exchange, the security in Donbas, elections and the deadlines of placing of the border with Russia under control.
Ukraine's President is also going to discuss the terms of a big "all-for-all prisoner swap".
"Sailors, political prisoners - we returned those, but not all. I would like very much our people to celebrate the New Year with their families at home, in Ukraine. Therefore, for me, this is a humanitarian, important, very personal, very personal question. I really want a big exchange, which since the beginning of Minsk process is called “all for all” so that they all come back home,” Volodymyr Zelensky said.
In early October, Zelensky said that Ukraine had agreed on the so-called "Steinmeier formula", however, he noted that elections in the occupied territories could only be held in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
Later, the President of Ukraine added that a new law on the special status of Donbas to be developed.
What do they say in Russia?
They urge not to raise expectations. In addition, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov reminded of the necessity to adopt a law on the special status of Donbas.
“The law on special status (of Donbas - ed.) is an integral part of the Minsk agreement. The decision, let’s say, to drift towards some other document is fraught with great difficulties, with unclear consequences for the settlement process" Peskov said.
Peskov also said that the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, are planning to discuss a gas contract.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a meeting between Zelensky and Putin in Paris "will not be formal."
"The contact will certainly be useful, because we really want to understand how, after all the ambiguous, contradictory statements from Zelensky’s office, the Ukrainian leader himself sees a movement towards the implementation of the Minsk agreements,” he said.