Donetsk, Lugansk should hold early local elections - Poroshenko
16 June 2014, 19:45 -- Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko has called on Monday for early local elections to be held in Donetsk and Lugansk after changes are made to the Constitution and the hostilities in the region end. 'It is envisaged that straight after the passage of the peace plan and constitutional changes, Donetsk and Lugansk must hold early local elections to enable their local communities to elect their representatives and thus give them powers making them responsible for peace and welfare in their territory,' Poroshenko stated.
The head of state stressed that the time needed for achieving a ceasefire will be limited. 'Getting sucked into a protracted negotiating process today would be irresponsible because we do not need talks for talks' sake,' the president said.
He added: 'What we urgently need today is to achieve a regime where, on the one hand, we shall be able to guarantee security for everyone living in Donetsk and Lugansk and guarantee protection against looting. We can and will facilitate the disarmament process followed by a decision over amnesty or protection against criminal liability for those individuals who did not commit any grave crimes.'
Ukrainian president also addressed the issue of the Ukrainian-Russian border announcing that the authorities intend to regain control of it. 'We are going to take decisive action to renew security on our national border this week. I hope we will fully succeed in doing so,' Poroshenko stated.
'As soon as the border is closed, we shall be able to declare a ceasefire straight away,' the president said.
Poroshenko said that overall the situation has been improving. 'The past week saw radical changes in the situation on this part of the (Ukrainian-Russian) border. Control has been regained and checkpoints installed on over 250 kilometers of the border,' the Ukrainian president said.
Poroshenko also expressed hope that the hostilities in the east of the country will end as early as this week.
Poroshenko also said that he is planning to bring the decentralization bill before parliament this week. 'I think that this week I will sign the draft changes to the Constitution and submit them to parliament,' Poroshenko said at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council. He expressed hope that the draft changes would be brought before the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) for approval this week as well.
The president stressed that he developed and approved the main points of the legislation, that 'contain the key element of the peace plan - decentralization of government, - something that the Ukrainian government has done a lot of work on.'
Such decentralization means 'accountability and development tasks' would go over to 'territorial communities and local councils that will be elected as bodies vested with new powers, and this will make it possible to form executive [bodies],' he clarified.
Poroshenko said he was convinced that 'local government bodies will be empowered to deal with the lion's share of problems on the territory of a community, beginning with the problem of which language to use, whether Russian is to be used.'
'Under the [draft constitutional amendments], a significant part of the cultural issues and a significant enlargement of budget resources would go along with a significant increase in the accountability of territorial communities,' he said.
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