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Normandy Format meeting in Berlin

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By Catherine Hardy  with AFP, Reuters
Normandy Format meeting in Berlin

Germany’s Foreign Minister says there has been no breakthrough at today’s meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy format countries in Berlin.

Frank Walter Steinmeier did say the atmosphere was better than during their last meeting in Paris.

Positions on some issues in Ukraine still differ although there was some agreement, particularly over security issues.

“I know that in Eastern Ukraine, security is not the only thing that needs to be achieved. But without security, nothing can be achieved. And, therefore, I am fairly satisfied with this area of talks today,” Steinmeier told reporters.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says security remains the priority.

“Unfortunately the critical issues which are so important for getting the Minsk process unfrozen, were unable to be sorted out. Of course, because of the Russian position”.

Steinmeier said Wednesday’s meeting in Berlin focused mainly on preparations for local elections in the east of Ukraine, especially regarding safety.

How is the situation on the ground?

Volatile, according to those on the scene.

A Ukrainian soldier and two pro-Russian separatist fighters were killed in clashes at the end of April.

This is despite a renewed ceasefire in the wake of a truce signed last September.

  • 9,300 deaths since April 2014
  • 1.5 million displaced

What is the Normandy Format?

It was created in 2014 to secure a peaceful settlement to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Its four leaders brokered the Minsk peace deal in February 2015.

This was later signed by representatives of Kyiv and the militia of eastern Ukraine.