German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presented a united front in Kyiv on Saturday over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Their meeting came on the eve of Ukraine’s Independence Day celebrations, which Merkel will attend.
The German Chancellor said that the open border between Russia and Ukraine must be controlled – either by the OSCE or another authority – before there could be any ceasefire.
Both Merkel and Poroshenko stressed they wanted to ensure decentralisation but not federalisation of Ukraine along with respect for cultural and linguistic differences.
“Decentralisation in Ukraine – this is exactly what the President and myself want and what I support. I think as well that this is an important step to further include the Russian-speaking population,” Merkel said.
Poroshenko thanked Merkel for her support of the Ukrainian people and for promised German and EU financial assistance to rebuild war-torn eastern Ukraine.
“We all remember the Marshall Plan that helped post-war Europe. And today I can say that this is the beginning of a “Merkel Plan”, for the reconstruction of the infrastructure in the Donbass region. And I am very grateful for this”.
Next week Russian and Ukrainian leaders along with top EU officials will meet in Belarus. Diplomats say Merkel is urging Poroshenko to be open to peace proposals when he meets Putin.