Ukraine. The word was the most used this week in political reports and news were mostly tragic. And, of course, with a touch of hope for the long-awaited peace this word sounded in Munich, where the world leaders spoke about European security. It also sounded in Kiev and Moscow, where key political figures of the Old World made visits this week. Meanwhile Minsk is again going to become the main meeting place to discuss the way out of the Ukraine crisis.
On February 11, the capital of Belarus will host a meeting in the so-called Normandy format.
And this news came yesterday from Sochi, where Alexander Lukashenko met with Vladimir Putin.
The summit in the Russia - Ukraine - Germany - France format will be held in the near future. It became clear as early as in the middle of last week.
The situation has deteriorated in the Donbas. Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande came for talks in Ukraine with their plan of peace settlement. Kiev approved the Franco-German initiative and made it clear that they would like to proceed from words to action. The Minsk memorandum is the most significant result of all negotiation rounds.
Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine President:
"Minsk memorandum" and "Minsk Protocol" - this is not the menu in a hotel restaurant where you can choose what to take. These are 12 points which will give results only if they are met.
The "Eastern tour" of the leaders from Western Europe continued with the official reception in the Kremlin. Behind closed doors.
The Munich conference brought together about 20 heads of state and government. Belarus was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Vladimir Makei communicated Belarus' principled position - this is early ceasefire.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also noted that the supply of weapons to the region will certainly not solve the problem. And once again reminded that the basic positions have already been agreed in Minsk and it is up to the sides whether to execute them.
Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany:
I am firmly convinced that the conflict cannot be resolved by military means. We decided to focus on diplomatic efforts.
The heads of state of the Normandy format - the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France and the German Chancellor - had a detailed telephone conference.
A little later came the place and time became known. The Russian president asked Alexander Lukashenko to organize a meeting.
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation:
I would like to inform you that I have just finished a conversation with colleagues from Kiev, Berlin and Paris in the so-called "Normandy format." We agreed that he would try to arrange a meeting in the same format between the Heads of State and Government in Minsk. Let's schedule it for Wednesday. It will take place if by that time are able to agree on a number of things, which we recently discussed quite intensively. And I would ask you to assist us with the holding of this meeting as you have done until now by kindly providing the Minsk area for meetings at the expert level.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
As for Ukraine, you know that you and the president of Ukraine asked me to organize the work of the contact group in Minsk. I did everything you asked and we cannot be reproached. I'm aware of the case, Mr Poroshenko called me a few minutes ago and told me the same. He knows that we were going to meet with you. So I can assure you that in order to promote security in our common home (people in Donetsk, in the Donbas are no strangers to us) on Wednesday evening we will be waiting for you, we will arrange everything. We will have something to discuss there.
Thank you so much. I want to thank you for what you are doing to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
Minsk will become a platform for large-scale negotiations, and not the first time. The Belarusian capital regularly hosts meetings of the contact group. The last such meeting took place a week ago. And then, just two days after, Belarus is again in the focus of the world media.