On 9 December 2019, the heads of government of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France met in Paris. Even though the conflict over the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine continues, the parties' willingness to talk sent an important positive signal. Furthermore, concrete steps were agreed upon, which could be partially implemented in the meantime.
Once again, high-ranking experts from both Germany and Ukraine met at the 5th Germany Breakfast Debate, which took place in Kyiv on 11 December 2020 in a hybrid format. The Deputy Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories in Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, was present in Kyiv. Matthias Lüttenberg, Head of Division for Bilateral Relations with the States of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus in the Federal Chancellery, and Dr Bertram von Moltke, Envoy of the German Embassy in Ukraine, were participated online from Germany.
The Breakfast Debate was opened by IEP Director Dr Katrin Böttger and Alyona Getmanchuk, Director of the New Europe Center (NEC) in Kyiv. In the main part of the event that followed, the speakers emphasised that the ceasefire, which has been in place since July 2020, is stable without precedent, except for isolated incidents. Likewise, an exchange of prisoners had taken place, even if the principle of "all against all" had not yet been fully implemented. On the Ukrainian side, new checkpoints had been established and progress had been made in the demining process. Overall, there is considerable political will within the Verkhovna Rada to resolve the conflict. This is reflected, among other things, in its plans for reintegration. In terms of both foreign and domestic policy, Kyiv has clearly defined its room for manoeuvre. On the Russian side, however, the steps agreed upon at the last Normandy Summit are not being implemented quite as consistently, which sometimes gives the impression that they are stalling for time.
Germany remains committed to the territorial integrity of Ukraine and adheres to the Minsk agreements, which also guarantee the continuation of the Normandy Summit. In addition, the German Government actively supports the Ukrainian reform process. The experts were very optimistic that this course will be maintained after the German parliamentary elections in 2021. The monitoring role of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine was also positively highlighted.
Questions and comments from the audience mainly concerned possible means of exerting pressure on the Russian Federation as well as the experts' assessment of whether the US administration under Joe Biden will be involved differently and whether it will be possible for the USA and Germany to adopt a joint transatlantic position again. In the discussion, the importance of maintaining dialogue formats was emphasised. This applies not only to the high diplomatic level, but also to initiatives such as the GURN Breakfast Debates.
The 5th Germany Breakfast Debate took place within the framework of the “German Ukrainian Researchers Network” project (GURN 1, 2019-2020) and was conducted in close cooperation with the Ukrainian partner organisation New Europe Center (NEC). The format has been continued since March 2021 as part of the GURN 2 project and is funded by the Federal Foreign Office.