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Hollande, Merkel to fly to Ukraine with new peace proposal

François Hollande addresses journalists at the Elysée Palace on Thursday
François Hollande addresses journalists at the Elysée Palace on Thursday Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French President François Hollande announced that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to fly to Ukraine on Thursday afternoon to put new propositions to end the conflict with Russia to both sides. At a major press conference Hollande also appealed for French to continue in the spirit of national unity that follow the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

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At his fifth press conference with all French media since being elected Hollande declared that he and Merkel had a “new proposal” to make on the east European conflict, “based on the integrity territorial of Ukraine”.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

They hoped to see Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday and Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday, he said.

“We must try everything for peace,” Hollande told the press, pointing out that France is “not at war in Ukraine” and that he “wishes to avoid war”, while refusing to comment on the debate as to whether Europe should arm the country.

Hollande hailed the “spirit of 11 January”, the day when millions demonstrated in response to the Charlie Hebdo killing spree, which, he said, France was “attacked in what she holds most sacred, freedom of expression the republic”.

Promising to defend “national cohesion”, he declared that “secularism is not negotiable because it allows us to live together”.

The education system will be the “best weapon” to fight division, Hollande said, but he also promised to build more public housing and set up an economic development agency.

France will not start producing statistics on the size of ethnic communities, the president went on, “the republic recognises all her children, wherever they were born wherever they live”.

But the country “has the duty to ensure that all its children, all its citizens can succeed in life and does not feeling of being segregated, separated, discriminated against, rejected, set aside”.
 

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