‘Confidence-building needed’: Paris summit can revive Ukrainian peace process, former Austrian FM tells RT

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The Normandy Four talks in Paris can breathe new life into the stalled Ukrainian peace process but only if the leaders focus on trust and not on quick political gains, former Austrian foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, has said.

The talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky kicked off in Paris on Monday. The four leaders sat down to discuss the longstanding conflict in Ukraine for the first time at that highest level in three years. As the world still awaits the summit’s results, Kneissl said she believes that it could be a good opportunity for a new start that would eventually help to lead the peace process out of deadlock.

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“You never solve conflicts in a few hours but it is definitely a start of a dialogue and what is definitely needed is the building of confidence,” the former minister told RT in Moscow, ahead of the meeting. “This new dynamic can then be used for new decisions.”

Yet, she noted that for this all the leaders need to focus on a common goal instead of pursuing short-term political gains at home. “What is important in diplomacy is that there must be some kind of dialogue, not just confronting each other with certain positions, which I saw happening too often. It is about listening to each other and having some concrete perspectives,” Kneissl said.

The former minister admitted that any leader is bound to be confronted with some domestic political pressure when dealing with such sensitive foreign policy issues. Even so, discretion and determination could do the trick, Kneissl believes.“It is very important for diplomacy that certain things happen in discretion. They do not need to be discussed on a daily basis in public. It is important that certain things can happen behind closed doors but it is where they can happen best,” she said, adding that she does hope the four leaders will “be able to start something and then to wait so that it can evolve.”

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Kneissl also hailed September’s prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, calling it a positive “new dynamic.” “It is no longer a complete stalemate.”

The minister believes that it is mostly up to two presidents – Putin and Zelensky – to sit together and find a way to keep this dynamic in the future.

Eventually, the Paris summit could not only kick start a new dialogue but also set a path for an entirely new format of the Ukrainian conflict resolution, if the leaders would see fit, the former minister believes.“It remains to be seen whether it will continue in this format or whether Russia and Ukraine choose a bilateral format or another multilateral format. It is too early to predict anything.”

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