Merkel says has 'no illusions' after Ukraine deal, 'big hurdles' remain
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she had "no illusions" after a Ukraine ceasefire deal hammered out at marathon talks in Minsk and that "big hurdles" remained in ending the 10-month conflict in the ex-Soviet country.
"We now have a glimmer of hope," she said in the Belarussian capital, according to a statement released by her office, but adding that "concrete steps must of course be taken and there will still be big hurdles ahead".
Merkel, who with French President Francois Hollande attended the all-night negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders, said she had "no illusions, we have no illusions" and that "much work" remained.
"There is however a real chance to turn things for the better," she added.
Merkel said the leaders of the so-called 'Normandie' format -- the French term for the four-nation group -- had pledged to oversee the deal's implementation and would do their utmost to also see it through.
"I assume that will also be necessary," she said.
Her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who also attended the Minsk negotiations, was relatively restrained about the deal, saying it did not represent "a comprehensive solution" nor a "breakthrough".
He said he welcomed it but "without any exuberance" since "it was a difficult birth".
"For some it will not be enough. Also we would have wished for more," he said, voicing hopes that both sides had negotiated "seriously and with good intentions".
"We expect that they desist from anything in the especially sensitive phase until the ceasefire comes into effect that could undermine today's agreements."
© 2015 AFP