The discussion focused on the idea of a parliamentary dimension of the Normandy format.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Medvedchuk, you once told me about your idea of creating a parliamentary dimension of the Normandy format, and Mr Volodin has recently reminded me about this. I believe it is a good idea. We discussed this idea some time ago; I do not remember exactly when it was.
Of course, I believe that this would be quite appropriate, if members of parliament in Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France support what is being done at the executive level. I strongly hope that you will succeed, with support from the Administration of the Ukrainian President. For our part, we are ready to join this project at any time.
I also know about the attitude of our French and German colleagues to this idea. I can only wish you success.
Head of the Political Council of the Ukrainian party Opposition Platform – For Life Viktor Medvedchuk: First of all, thank you very much, Mr President.
Indeed, when we met in St Petersburg last December, I told you about the establishment of an inter-faction association of deputies within the context of the Normandy format. The idea is to rally the MPs of the four countries whose leaders constitute the Normandy format in order to bring us closer to peace in Ukraine and ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements. You aptly described the idea as the parliamentary dimension of the Normandy format.
This is how it all began. When I met with members of the Senate and the National Assembly in Paris and later with members of the German Bundestag, the name of the project, the parliamentary dimension of the Normandy format, took hold.
Proposals were put forth then, just as today during my meeting with State Duma deputies – I would like to thank Mr Volodin for it – that the inter-faction group of deputies created at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine be transformed into an inter-parliamentary association. That is, it should bring together delegations from the parliaments of the four states that comprise the Normandy format. The objective is to support our heads of state in the peace settlement process.
We understand that you can handle it perfectly well, but I believe that the parliamentary potential, especially considering that the Verkhovna Rada is supposed to adopt laws stipulated in the Minsk agreements with regard to elections, amnesty, the special status and constitutional amendments, I believe that assistance from our colleagues in the State Duma and the French and German parliaments would be not only appropriate but very useful. We need to convince our deputies that there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements, as it has been said, in order to implement them in full through legislative work and in this way to bring us closer to peace in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin: This is highly desirable. Mr Volodin, will you support this?
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin: Mr President, instead of merely supporting this, we believe that this approach can be effective. The heads of state are doing a lot, but the parliaments could work in the same efficient manner during the implementation of the Minsk agreements because legislative support for the agreements being reached leaves a lot to be desired. Today, our colleagues in Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada are facing precisely this key problem. Therefore we consider it necessary to expand this dialogue.
In turn, today we have established a working group. We are moving from relations that involve opinion exchanges to a discussion of various matters in specific fields, including by specialised committees and specialists. And, of course, it is vitally important that our colleagues from the French Parliament and the Bundestag join this format more actively. In this case, I hope that we will be able to jointly suggest an agenda for the implementation of the Minsk agreements within the parliamentary dimension, as initiated by you.
We believe that the agreements being reached at the level of heads of state should be backed by legislation. And this is what members of parliament should do. But, unfortunately, the parliaments mostly acted as onlookers up until now and prior to implementing this initiative, as Mr Medvedchuk says.
I agree. It goes without saying that the support of the deputies who have been elected by the citizens of our countries is crucially important, especially during the implementation of certain initiatives linked with the approval of the regulatory framework and laws. Sometimes, it is simply impossible to do without such support. Therefore we will back you with pleasure, and we wish you every success.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Mr President, I believe that you will prompt President Macron and Ms Merkel that there is such a …
Vladimir Putin: There is no need to prompt them, they are experienced people. I believe that they will support and follow through.