OSCE mediator predicts 'more or less normal' Ukraine vote
The OSCE mediator in crisis-torn Ukraine, German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, predicted Monday that upcoming presidential elections in the country will be held in a "more or less normal" way.
The eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists are set to prevent balloting represent "a magnitude of probably less than 10 percent" of the national vote on Sunday, Ischinger told German public radio Deutschlandfunk.
The election would still have a positive impact there because "the outcome will at least make it that much harder for those who oppose Kiev to label the government in Kiev and the elected president as illegitimate", he said.
"In this sense I will view it as progress when the election takes place and then hopefully a result is announced quickly," added Ischinger, who has mediated a Ukraine national "round table" discussion since last week.
Ischinger -- a former German ambassador to the US and Britain and head of the annual Munich Security Conference -- was sent by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which will observe the polls.
He however urged a "realistic" view and cautioned that the election itself won't lead armed separatists who have used violence to immediately lay down their arms.
"But I believe that this election outcome could be an important step toward an eventual negotiated agreement and the silencing of arms," he said, adding that "back-channel" talks were ongoing to end the armed standoff.
© 2014 AFP