German, French leaders press Poroshenko on Ukraine truce
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Friday that his French counterpart Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angel Merkel had pressed him to ensure partial self-rule for the pro-Russian separatist east.
The rare admission by Ukraine's Western-backed leader marked another sign of European impatience with the fighting that still engulfs the former Soviet republic five months after the signing of a broad truce deal.
A 13-point agreement reached in the Belarussian capital Minsk guarantees three years of self-rule to militia-run parts of Ukraine's industrial provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Rebel-run parts of the mostly Russian-speaking regions would like to see their semi-autonomous status spelled out in clearly-defined constitutional amendments that would be enormously difficult to overturn.
But Poroshenko's draft changes only makes reference to an existing piece of legislation that gives insurgency leaders partial self-rule for an interim period of three years.
Poroshenko's office said Merkel and Hollande -- two of Ukraine's strongest backers and key initiators of the Minsk deal -- had "recommended that the president of Ukraine continue with (his) constitutional reforms".
The two "placed especial stress that the draft constitution of Ukraine reflects special self-rule for certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions".
Poroshenko's statement failed to mention who initiated the conference call.
More than 6,500 people have been killed since the Ukrainian conflict broke out in the wake of the February 2014 ouster of a Russian-backed leader and his replacement by a strongly pro-Western leadership.
A Minsk deal managed to contain some of the clashes but daily exchanges of fire continue to add to the death toll.
© 2015 AFP