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Kuchma hopes to agree on opening of Zolote checkpoint

The ex-president expects a deal to be reached on the disengagement of forces in Stanytsya Luhanska.

The representative of Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group, the second President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, hopes that the TCG at its meeting in Minsk on Wednesday will agree on the opening of the checkpoint Zolote in the Luhansk region.

He said he felt ashamed that Ukraine has so far not pressed the Luhansk party into opening of the crossing point although it had been duly equipped long ago.

"It will be on the top of tomorrow's agenda. We will try hard to push them a little so that this checkpoint would be opened," Kuchma told reporters on 22 November.

He declined to speculate on why the "D/LNR" authorities oppose the opening of the crossing point, but remarked that "it was not without a reason." He went on to say that the opening of this crossing point has been discussed in the working sub-groups, but the issue "did not go beyond promises".

Kuchma said the checkpoint will play an important humanitarian role. "I believe we should do everything to make this point opened in the near future," he stressed.

According to him, the Russian side supported the idea but did not use all the levers at their disposal.

Asked about the possibility of a deal on the disengagement in are of the village Stanytsya Luhanska, the representative of Ukraine said the issue is surrounded by "some kind of games". "Security issues have been and remain of prime importance. Without addressing these issues one cannot move any further," Kuchma stressed.

Earlier this months, the headquarters of the ATO stated that the disengagement of forces in the village of Stanytsya Luhanska has been frozen due to enemy shelling.

The Zolote checkpoint is fully equipped and ready to pass people starting 31 March but has been postponed ever since. Ukraine accused the opposite party of sabotaging the opening. In particular, the State Border Service regularly reports about the shelling of the crossing area by militants.

The Zolote checkpoint is designed to allow the passage of two thousand vehicles and five thousand pedestrians a day.