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Swiss diplomat to continue as Ukraine negotiator

Swiss ambassador Heidi Tagliavini plans to continue her mission as special representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the Ukraine crisis.

“She has decided to continue her mission these next few months under the Serbian presidency of the OSCE,” declared Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in an interview published in the St Galler Tagblatt and Neue Luzerner Zeitung newspapers on Wednesday.

Led by Burkhalter, Switzerland holds the presidency of the OSCE this year. Serbia will take over next year. As special representative, Tagliavini has played a major role in negotiations between representatives of Kiev, Moscow, the separatists and the OSCE.

“Her role is precious in such a difficult situation,” he said.

Burkhalter said the fact that Serbia maintains good relations with Russia is positive.

“If the OSCE decides something, Russia must always agree,” he stated, adding that Serbia also wants to join the EU and so must prove that it can act impartially.

In the past few weeks Russia has called for a new round of peace talks on the conflict, which pits government troops against pro-Russian rebels fighting to split from Kiev.

In September, Kiev, Moscow, pro-Russian separatists and the OSCE agreed on a ceasefire in east Ukraine. But it has been repeatedly violated and the West accuses Russia of supporting the rebels with arms and troops to destabilise Ukraine and stall its drive towards closer ties with the EU.

The West slapped sanctions on Russia over the conflict. Russia sides with the rebels but says it is not involved in the armed conflict. It blames the West for playing a role in the toppling of Ukraine's former, Moscow-allied president Viktor Yanukovich in February. The conflict has killed more than 4,700 people since the violence started in mid-April. 

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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