: 'Unity of Europe must be preserved': Polish and Hungarian presidents on Ukraine conflict
Politics12:52 Mar. 19, 2016
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'Unity of Europe must be preserved': Polish and Hungarian presidents on Ukraine conflict

EU sanctions on Russia over aggression in Donbas up for renewal in July

The Hungarian and Polish presidents are stating their backing for the Minsk peace deal.

The agreement aims to bring an end to fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatist forces.

The deal was signed in February 2015 but has so far not been fully implemented. Among its conditions is a ceasefire. But Ukraine says it is still coming under attack from Russian-backed forces, including with heavy weapons which were supposed to be withdrawn.

Russia is under E.U. sanctions for its aggression in eastern Ukraine. Those measures come up for renewal in July with some analysts suggesting the 28-nation bloc will not be able to remain unified.

But Polish president Andrej Duda says Europe should not be seeking to return to ‘business as usual.'

Polish president Andrej Duda: "From this point of view, when we speak about considering if the sanctions are justified or not, we most of all need to check if the actual basis for implementing these sanctions has changed since then or not? And this is what the president mentioned, that includes if the Minsk agreements are fulfilled and observed also by the Russian side, or if they aren't."

Polish president Andrej Duda: "And from this point of view the question of removing sanctions, if at all, should be considered rather than from a position of business as usual."

Budapest is often cited as one of Moscow's allies within Europe. Many believe if EU resolve is to be broken, the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban may be the one to break ranks.

But the country's president says the bloc's unity ‘must be preserved'. 

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Hungarian President, Janos Ader"First of all, everyone must adhere to the Minsk agreement. (Polish translator) This is the precondition to any further step. (Polish translator) In this conflict the unity of the European Union must also be preserved."

Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine Russian-backed separatist forces continue to launch attacks on Ukrainian positions. According to Ukrainian officials the military has been forced to return fire on a number of occasions in recent days.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the actions of the Kremlin-backed militants continue to put in doubt a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

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