We are very pleased to have been able to meet with President Zelensky in Kiev during this first joint visit, which provided an opportunity to reaffirm France and Germany’s support for Ukraine at a time when the country is facing numerous challenges. We notably expressed our deep attachment to the continuation of the reform process, while Ukrainian citizens continue to express high expectations in this regard.
France and Germany remain strongly committed to finding a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and to restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine throughout its territory. We welcome the fact that President Zelensky once again reaffirmed the priority given to restoring peace, as well as his attachment to the Minsk accords and to the Normandy format framework in order to reach a negotiated solution with Russia.
We informed President Zelensky of our determination to give fresh impetus to the negotiations, five years after the start of the conflict which left more than 13,000 people dead and the main victims of which continue to be the civilian populations. We also discussed the issue of the Kerch Strait incident in November, which demonstrated that the risks of destabilization remained significant. This is why we also met with the families of the sailors who have been detained by Russia since November in violation of international law, in order to express our support for these families who are faced with the ordeal caused by the absence of their loved ones. France and Germany will continue to demand the unconditional release of the entire crew, as they have been doing so for the last few months, and as ordered by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on May 25.
Now more than ever, it is up to Russia to demonstrate its political will and responsibility in order to re-establish an atmosphere of trust between the parties, rather than heightening tensions. Certain gesture are expected of Russia, particularly the immediate release of the 24 seamen being detained illegally since November 25. Germany and France are working with the parties to help re-establish constructive discussions. Discussions will soon continue with the parties on creating the conditions for holding a summit of heads of state and government in the Normandy format.