German, French ministers urge Kiev not to stray from pro-Western path

France and Germany's foreign ministers appealed to Ukraine's political leaders on Monday to push forward with economic reforms and their fight against corruption as a political crisis threatened Ukraine's future.

Ukraine's pro-Western coalition lost its legislative majority in parliament on Thursday, igniting fears of political instability as the country grapples to contain ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in its eastern regions.

Arriving in Kiev on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors a ceasefire agreement in the former Soviet country's east.

The two ministers were also due to meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the German Foreign Ministry said.

Ayrault and Steinmeier said the country was in urgent need of reforms and called on politicians to "remain true to the spirit of Maidan" in a joint editorial published in Monday's edition of Germany's daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Ukraine's Maidan movement is named after the central square in Kiev - which translates to Independence Square - where protesters gathered in 2013 to demand the resignation of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and closer European integration. They led to the 2014 revolution.

"In return for our solidarity and support, we rely on the affirmation of political powers in Ukraine to continue the course of reforms," Ayrault and Steinmeier wrote, underlining the need to boost competition and limit money's influence on politics.

Sources at the French Foreign Ministry called the visit "an opportunity to take stock with the Ukrainian authorities on the progress of reforms and the implementation of the Minsk accord."

Recent party departures have left Poroshenko's Solidarity party and Yatsenyuk's People's Front as the only two parties in Ukraine's ruling coalition.

Recent surveys by US-based pollster Gallup have shown Poroshenko's popularity to be floundering.

Germany, France and Russia make up the so-called Normandie Format together with Ukraine. The four countries next meet on March 3 in Paris.

The diplomatic quartet has been working to implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement, which has so far proven ineffective in the restive east.

Last update: Mon, 22/02/2016 - 19:22

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