Thu, 22 Aug 2019

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has embarked on his first trips to France and Germany as head of state, starting with a visit to Paris on June 17 in which he met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

Zelenskiy's trip to the European capitals comes as he seeks progress on reforms in Ukraine and efforts to deal with the conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

The French presidency has said that Macron's meeting with Zelenskiy will offer a chance to 'address the support of France for the reform program desired by the new president of Ukraine.'

It said the discussions would also look at the 'chances of solving the conflict" in eastern Ukraine with the support of Paris and Berlin.

France and Germany, along with Ukraine and Russia, are part of the so-called 'Normandy format' of countries seeking a resolution to the war.

The format has not held talks in two years, and cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords in September 2014 and February 2015 have failed to hold.

In addition to the conflict in the east and Russia's occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine faces entrenched corruption and major economic hurdles.

Zelenskiy plans to visit Berlin on June 18 where he is scheduled to meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Earlier this month, Zelenskiy made his first foreign trip as president to EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

During the visit, he reaffirmed Ukraine's course toward Euro-Atlantic integration, and vowed that under his leadership the country would implement reforms and intensify the fight against corruption.

He also pressed the bloc to step up pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine's east.

The same day in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Poroshenko but not Zelenskiy.

With reporting by AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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