Civil society organizations from Ukraine, Russia and the EU suggest establishing an independent group of civic consultations for the Minsk talks on Donbas.
Statement of the international civil society platform CivilM+
24 March 2020
March 2020 has brought the coronavirus pandemic which remains the key topic in all the countries and on all the platforms. At the same time, March has seen a series of events that have a direct link to the opportunities for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
We have carefully observed the outcomes of the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk on 11 March. The next day already, we have been watching the presentation of the Platform of the national unity and reconciliation in Kyiv, and the disruption of this presentation by the representatives of the right-wing party ‘National Corps’ and the veterans of ‘Azov’ battalion.
One of the main and the most controversial decisions made in Minsk on 11 March was an agreement to establish an Advisory Board. It is assumed that within this board, ten representatives from Ukraine and ten representatives of non-government-controlled territory, de facto – representatives of the self-proclaimed ‘republics’, will have to elaborate proposals for conflict resolution. The Russian Federation, meanwhile, has received a role of an observer, along with France, Germany and the OSCE.
We, the undersigned members of the international platform CivilM+, share the position that our Ukrainian colleagues have already expressed. The status of the Russian Federation as the side which is responsible for the outcomes of military aggression in eastern Ukraine, with relevant sanctions and trials, both on national and international levels, should remain unaltered. Russia should not be an observer, but a side in the negotiations, as a full-fledged party to the conflict. In addition, the borders of a compromise to which the participants of the Minsk talks can agree, should not go beyond the defined red lines. In particular, any legitimisation of the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR” is unacceptable.
Overall, civil society organizations, members of the CivilM+ platform, support the dialogue between civilian Ukrainians divided by the contact line. We believe that this dialogue should intensify within improved formats. For more than six years already, people have been living in different media environment. It is essential to keep and maintain contacts to make sure that these people will be capable of listening to each other within the lengthy process of reintegration and reconciliation, when the hostilities are over and a political decision to stop the conflict is made.
At the same time, while promoting such a complicated topic as reconciliation, the state must be extremely careful and balanced in selecting its ambassadors and speakers; it should be very attentive to every word. It is crucial to find such form of a dialogue that will eventually include such important societal groups as human rights defenders, veterans, volunteers, as well as victims of human rights violations.
Based on our own experience, we, the members of the CivilM+ platform, know that starting a dialogue and laying the foundation for trust and willingness to hear and accept an opinion of another is not easy. Within the platform, civil society organizations from Ukraine and Russia gather around one table or talk to each other online. It is not always easy and fast, but we manage to reach an agreement, to find common language around terminology and wording that do not destroy but strengthen the dialogue. We believe that this experience of cooperation can contribute to the more effective work within the Minsk format.
The international platform CivilM+ considers it timely and necessary to establish an independent group of civic consultations to support the Minsk negotiations. Civil society organizations and experts from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and France which are part of the CivilM+ platform, are ready to join the discussion about the solutions and to consult the parties. To guarantee the independence of such a group, its structure, mandate and relevant procedures should be determined through expert consultations with civil society representatives from different countries.
Centre for Civil Liberties, Ukraine
Centre of Public Initiatives “Ideas for Change”, Ukraine
‘Citizen and Army’, Russia
‘Country of Free People’, Ukraine
DRA, German-Russian Exchange, Germany
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA), France
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland
Human Rights Centre ‘Memorial’, Russia
International Human Rights Federation FIDH, France
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Ukraine
Luhansk Oblast Human Rights Center ‘Alternatyva’, Ukraine
MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V., Germany
Truth Hounds, Ukraine
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Ukraine
The international CivilM+ platform was established in 2017. It unites 19 organizations and three independent experts from Ukraine, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and France. Within the CivilM+ network, they contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Donbas. In particular, they inform their governments and communities about the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, implement projects in the spheres of peacebuilding, transitional justice, dialogue and human rights. https://www.facebook.com/civilmplus/ https://civilmplus.org/
For more information, please contact the Platform Secretariat: Yulia Erner, coordinator – [email protected] With media-requests, please contact Iryna Yakovlieva, communications coordinator – [email protected]