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France President Hollande: Armistice agreement is a great relief for Europe

The Normandy 4 negotiations on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine in Minsk ended two hours ago. After almost 16 hours of talks at the Palace of Independence, the leaders of the Normandy Quartet came out to journalists. They all greeted the President of Belarus and talked with him warmly.

The main thing was achieved - a decision on the ceasefire. This is a big positive result from the talks of the leaders of the Normandy Quartet.

The talks were complicated. Contradictory information appeared from different sources. Nevertheless, at noon, it became clear that it was in Minsk where a compromise was found.

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation:
Despite all the difficulties of the negotiation process, we still managed to agree on the essentials.
I think that the fact that the talks lasted for so long is due to the fact that, unfortunately, the Kiev government has so far refused to have direct contacts with representatives of Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic. Even despite the fact that they are unrecognized. But we must proceed from the realities of life, and if they all want to agree on a long-term basis, to build a relationship, then they need a direct contact.
We worked in the conditions that we have. And we agreed on many things.
First. We agreed on a ceasefire from 12 am on February 15.
Second but not less important. This is the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the current line of contact (for Ukrainian troops) and from the line designated on September 19, 2014 in the Minsk Agreements (for the Donbass militia).

In Minsk, after the talks of the contact group a document was signed. It is called "The package of measures aimed at implementing the Minsk agreements", i.e. on their practical implementation.

In addition to the ceasefire, the sides agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line, which has been designated on 19 September. This is also the outcome.

The French President said that the truce agreement is a "great relief for Europe."

Journalists gathered around the Belarus Head of State to ask questions.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
They ate scrambled eggs, cheese, dairy products, drank several buckets of coffee to keep themselves in good shape. They slept in shifts, especially experts. The heads of state, of course, could not relax. And those slept in shifts because your head should be more or less clear when you draft legally binding agreements.  Everything was normal. This is not the main thing.
There were a lot of documents in the history. Now the important thing is to implement these documents. This process, as you know, is more difficult than to create documents. 24 hours is not enough for this.

These are the results. All journalists were rewarded for the long wait. There were made the first steps towards a final settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. The Presidents of France, Russia and the German Chancellor act as guarantors of the agreement. They wrote it in a joint declaration: they support the peace process, which began in Ukraine.

In Minsk, they have done everything possible for this to work.

The negotiators are leaving the Belarusian capital. Russian President Vladimir Putin has departed from National Airport Minsk. Then, the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine also left Belarus.

Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande