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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s wrong approach

Oleh SHAMSHUR: “Unless Russia stops interfering in Ukrainian affairs, it will be almost impossible to establish an effective dialog between the Ukrainian government and the eastern regions of the country”
15 May, 2014 - 11:51

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has appointed German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger its negotiator on the situation in Ukraine. This was announced by Chairman of the OSCE Didier Burkhalter in his speech in Brussels on May 12. He said that the Ukrainian government agreed to nominate Ambassador Ischinger as co-moderator of the OSCE “roundtable” on the situation in Ukraine. 68-year-old Ischinger is a recognized expert on international relations. In particular, he served as German ambassador to the US and the UK at various times and has led the annual Munich Security Conference since 2009.

In addition, the chairman of the OSCE presented a “roadmap” aiming to resolve the Ukrainian conflict at the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the EU.

“We have reached a critical junction in this crisis. We must start cooperating as soon as possible,” he stated in his speech.

Burkhalter also stressed that May 11 referendums in Ukraine were “incompatible with the Ukrainian constitution and illegal.”

“All parties should avoid this kind of provocation,” he added.

Western European media reported that creator of this five-point roadmap, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was to come to Ukraine on May 13. He himself told reporters in Brussels that during his trip to Ukraine, he would visit the southeastern regions of the country, and intended to persuade warring parties in Ukraine that dialog was the only way out of the conflict.

The Day turned to former Ukrainian ambassador to the US Oleh SHAMSHUR for a comment on Ischinger’s appointment as the OSCE mediator and Steinmeier’s Ukrainian crisis settlement plan.

“Ischinger is quite respected and well-known all over the world. Can he be an effective negotiator? It is hard to say. I do not recall him participating in such processes in the past.

“We all understand, though, that the question is not who will be the OSCE negotiator, but how can we, I mean Ukraine and the West, influence Vladimir Putin. This is a key question.

“One can welcome the efforts of the OSCE and other international organizations and actors to promote the settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine. However, these efforts can be constructive only when based on a real assessment of the situation. I see Steinmeier’s trip to eastern Ukraine and his appeal to the warring parties to establish dialog as a wrong approach. Similarly, I am very critical on Steinmeier’s five-point plan, because this document is based on a false premise. It sets Russia outside the settlement, because it all comes down to solving the issue as if it was an internal Ukrainian problem. It is clear, however, that without changing Russia’s behavior, no long-term settlement is possible.

“It is absolutely counterproductive to treat it as a purely Ukrainian problem, essentially setting Russia outside its scope, because it is obvious that the main driving force behind the present crisis is a ‘creeping’ Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine, its direct interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine through directing separatist actions and active involvement of the Russian security forces’ commandos. Thus, we cannot afford to have mediation missions accompanied by decreases in pressure on the Russian government: only the introduction of sectoral sanctions targeting the Russian economy can stop Putin. Unless Russia stops interfering in Ukrainian affairs, it will be almost impossible to establish an effective dialog between the Ukrainian government and the eastern regions of the country. No dialog is possible with terrorists, who, moreover, act on the instructions from the Kremlin.”

By Mykola SIRUK, The Day