Vitalii Haiduk has held the position of secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) since Oct. 10, 2006. Many observers believe that he has breathed new life into this agency, which advises the president of Ukraine on matters of national security and defense. How can the Ukrainian government ensure its national security, territorial integrity, and sovereignty as well as the security of every individual? Can Ukraine achieve energy independence within a short span of time? These and other questions are broached in The Day’s exclusive interview with Ukraine’s security and defense chief.
Can we say that with the advent of the National Security Strategy Ukrainian society can now “sleep securely,” knowing that the state will ensure our country’s integrity, sovereignty, and inviolability of borders, as well as the security of every citizen? Is there not a danger that this conceptual document may turn out to be just another empty declaration?
“I will remind you that the National Security Strategy was discussed and approved by the National Security and Defense Council on Dec. 15, 2006, in the presence of the Verkhovna Rada speaker and the prime minister. Therefore, it is a joint document of Ukraine’s leading political forces. Under Items 1 and 17 of Article 106 (Part 1) of the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as Article 2 (Part 2) of the Ukrainian Law ‘On the Foundations of Ukraine’s National Security,’ the strategy was confirmed by the president of Ukraine.
“It was necessary to adopt this important document because the challenges and threats of the contemporary world demand that the state clearly define its priorities in strategic matters and the most urgent goals in various fields if it is to defend its national interests. The strategy’s main objective is to ensure Ukraine’s progress and competitiveness, human rights and freedoms, and to further strengthen the Ukrainian state’s international positions.
“I would like to stress that the National Security Strategy is a system of high-profile political decisions and viable trends in the field of national security, the consistent implementation of which will help the main political subjects achieve their strategic goal. One can say that it is a general line aimed at resolving the problems of an entire historical period and achieving fundamental, long-term, goals.
“So it would be wrong to expect the state to resolve all problems connected with its sovereignty, inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, and security of all its citizens the next day or a week after the strategy was approved. At the same time, I will point out that no high-profile project even in industry or construction, let alone the state’s security and national interests, can be carried out without documents of a general conceptual nature.
“I do not share the view that this document will turn into another empty declaration. After all, ensuring the vital interests of individuals, society, and the state, which are enshrined in the National Security Strategy, is a common practice that meets the fundamental requirements of every sovereign country. Naturally, this is not a deadline-free document: it will need certain changes in the course of time. But in my opinion, its essence, nature, and main content will make it possible to pursue a long-term, systematic government policy in the field of security.
“An important condition for this is undoubtedly achieving unity among the different political forces and their inclination to build a truly democratic and competitive state with a socially-oriented economy, carry out respective reforms, and resolve urgent problems. A special role is assigned here to Ukrainian society, which should be aware of the goal and purpose of this strategy; it should be interested in carrying out what has been planned and ensure civic control over the actions of certain branches of power, instead of just waiting for positive changes to occur.”
Do you think Ukraine can fully ensure its security without joining NATO?
“To answer this question, I must first say clearly that on the legislative level Ukraine has already chosen the strategic direction of ensuring its national security: building a new system of European security, following a course towards Euro-Atlantic integration, and adhering to the principle of collective defense.
“In our view, state security should be based on several mutually-complementary elements: dialogue, cooperation, maintenance of collective security, conflict prevention, crisis situation control, stopping a war at the outset, and preserving the territorial integrity of all members of the community. This implies joint responsibility, equal security, strategic unity, role distribution, and regular consultations.
“Let me emphasize that one of NATO’s chief tasks is to establish cooperation and partnership with its new Central and East European members. In the process of acquiring membership, these countries have carried out radical military and civilian reforms: in particular, they have considerably modernized and reduced their armed forces to the sufficiency level, introduced transparent civilian control over the military, bolstered their democratic institutions, brought the economy into line with market requirements, etc. So far none of them have expressed disappointment or dissatisfaction with NATO membership or a desire to withdraw from this organization. On the contrary, they all unanimously say that NATO membership has greatly increased their security and in terms of strategy is extremely useful for their future.
“One must also take into account the real danger of Ukraine turning into a ‘buffer zone’ without any security guarantees at all and being used by other states as a field for political games. Ultimately, it may cease to be a subject of international relations and always fall victim to external provocation (the situation around the Crimean peninsula and Tuzla Island, events in Feodosiia in June 2006 are a good illustration).
“Ukraine’s geopolitical conditions and current international development trends will also compel our state to choose a vector that is maximally clear in order to ensure its national security. In my opinion, this vector should point to the North Atlantic alliance.
“As for other likely ways of ensuring Ukraine’s security, neutrality or membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization is most often raised. In my view, these options are considerably inferior in qualitative terms to Ukraine’s course towards Euro-Atlantic integration and participation in building a new system of European security.”
The president’s edict entrusts the Cabinet of Ministers with implementing the strategy. Is it possible that the current government, formed by the anti-crisis coalition, will refuse to carry out this document? The communists, who are members of the coalition, have already called the document inadmissible.
“There are no legal grounds now for the parliamentary coalition to justify the cabinet’s refusal to pursue the National Security Strategy of Ukraine.
“The statements of some MPs that this document is illegitimate and that ‘documents of this level must be submitted as a bill and discussed by parliament’ merely indicate an inadequate knowledge of legislation and the fact that they are politically motivated. The Law of Ukraine ‘On the Foundations of Ukraine’s National Security’ clearly spells out that the National Security Strategy, the Military Doctrine of Ukraine, and other doctrines, concepts and strategies ‘shall be developed and approved by the president of Ukraine.’ Moreover, the National Security Strategy and the Military Doctrine are ‘binding documents that lay the groundwork for working out concrete government programs for shaping a policy of national security’ (Article 2 of the law).
“I am convinced that the cabinet is aware of its responsibility to the people of Ukraine, respects the current law, and will do its utmost to effectively fulfill the political tasks that the strategy implies. Maintaining a proper level of security for individuals, society, and the state directly affects Ukraine’s socioeconomic and sociopolitical development and ensures the rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens, which the Constitution defines as a prerogative of the Cabinet of Ministers.”
Can you indicate how the strategy fits in with the overall picture of Ukraine’s security sector reform and what the 2015 Security Sector Model is like? Have the main methods and stages of security sector transformation been chosen? What are they?
“Today it is obvious that the security sector needs reforming, which the respective clauses of the strategy confirm (Item 2.4: incompatibility of the security sector with society’s needs). Moreover, the strategy sets out: 1) strategic priorities in the national security policy (in the context of your question, reforming security sector institutions); 2) top-priority directions in this field, i.e., directions of the reform; and 3) mechanisms of pursuing government policies by enhancing the national security management system (in particular, by holding a comprehensive review of the security sector), and provision of resources, one of the top-priority directions being the funding of the reform process and development of security sector bodies.
“In other words, the strategy sets out top-priority directions and general ways and mechanisms of security sector reform.
“As for the concrete actions aimed at drafting and applying the 2015 Security Sector Model, March will see the completion of a comprehensive review of Ukraine’s security sector, which means the analytical assessment of the state of security components with a view to bringing their elements in line with the requirements of effective counteraction against real and potential threats to national and state security, the economic potential of the state, and modern European and Euro-Atlantic standards in this field. The review’s last stage focuses on finding chief ways of transforming the security sector as well as concrete methods for implementing the 2015 Security Sector Model.
“We will be able to see this more concretely once the review results are published in the form of so-called White Papers.
“I can add that we have invited not only Ukrainian and foreign narrow specialists but also academics, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the mass media, and other individuals to take part in reforming Ukraine’s security sector bodies, including drafting and applying the 2015 Model. As an example, I can cite the initiative of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) which has posted an invitation on its Web site to take part in a public opinion poll and answer the question, ‘What kind of a security service does Ukrainian society need?’ So if somebody has certain proposals or ideas on solving the problem’s connected to the reform of the SBU, they can send them to the indicated address. You can also try this.”
It is common knowledge that the RNBO pays close attention to energy security. Proof of this is the creation of an RNBO-subordinated interdepartmental commission on energy security. At one time you said we can achieve considerable success in this field by saving energy resources and modernizing energy-consuming businesses. What incentives or levers should the state bring into play so that society can see rapid progress in economic security and believe that achieving energy security is a realistic goal?
“The main problem that the state faces in ensuring energy security is the complete satisfaction of fuel and energy requirements for the population and the economy. The intense rivalry of various countries for energy resources has exacerbated this problem lately, and the RNBO of Ukraine is focusing its attention on this.
“Apart from the problem of guaranteed supplies of energy resources to consumers and the economy, there is also a problem of their effective utilization because energy efficiency of the economy — its energy-saving potential — is an instrument for ensuring energy security.
“Therefore, Ukraine’s task in this field is to build an economy with a high energy/gross product ratio — in any case, higher than that of our immediate rivals in the international division of labor. I can single out the following main directions of this work: in the field of economic relations: inducing economic entities to evince market-oriented interest in reducing energy consumption by modernizing production facilities and introducing a system of energy management; in the housing and public utilities sector: introducing special mechanisms for funding energy-saving projects so that the state can join efforts with local government bodies, utilities, and private capital; within the population: encouraging the public to show a real interest in scaling back energy consumption through mutual settlements between the population and energy-supplying companies, which would ensure real compensation for the expenditures of energy-supplying entities, on the one hand, and provide social protection, on the other.
“To encourage energy efficiency, we must revise the existing approach to the artificial depreciation of fuel and energy. By selling energy at lower prices, we either ruin the fuel-and-energy complex, forfeit the prospect of developing our own energy base, and end up fully dependent on foreign suppliers of fuel and energy or, by increasing individual and corporate subsidies, we set a wage-price spiral in motion, again burdening the country’s population with exorbitant payments.
“In my view, there is only one solution here: everybody should obtain resources at their true cost. And certain social strata should be protected by means of target-oriented subsidies. People should be given money, and they will decide for themselves how to spend it on electricity, heating, fuel, and public utilities. This is the best incentive for economizing energy resources all over the world.
“Carrying out energy efficiency projects in the housing and public utilities sector requires considerable funds. Neither utility providers nor local government bodies have such funds. The state budget is also cash-strapped. What can speed up work in this sphere is the mechanism of ‘third-party funding’ of energy efficiency projects. The investor funds energy-saving projects and makes a profit from the money saved. However, in this case the state should guarantee that it will not change contractual terms and conditions during the project pay-back period. To keep the pay-back period well within the limits of housing and public utilities projects, it is worthwhile making use of the opportunities provided by the Kyoto Protocol.
“In the commercial sector, entrepreneurs should use their own initiative. In this case, the state should primarily encourage modernization of production facilities and focus on top- priority technological innovations in certain sectors of the economy. Of course, it is crucial to introduce concrete energy-efficiency programs in various industries, which would clearly envision the use of market-oriented investment mechanisms for the application of energy-saving and resource-saving innovative expertise as well as real government support, including mechanisms of taxation, depreciation, and crediting policies.
“Considering that the government’s energy efficiency policies are based on the systematic development of the law, it is crucial to introduce changes to the basic Law of Ukraine ‘On Energy Saving:’ its new redaction should call for economic, market-oriented energy efficiency incentives that are still not reflected in legislation or practical use.”
What is your attitude to referendums as a problem-solving mechanism, especially when it comes to such spheres as security and defense? Who do you think should address these problems?
“Ukrainian legislation, i.e., the Constitution and the Law of Ukraine ‘On National and Local Referendums,’ which was passed already in 1991, does not clearly define questions that should be discussed in a national referendum. Therefore, from a purely juridical standpoint, security and defense matters can be subject to a nationwide vote.
“At the same time, a referendum should be preceded by an all-round campaign to inform the populace of the advantages and disadvantages of certain decisions. Otherwise, voting will show the result of public opinion manipulations rather than the people’s will. We should also remember that referendums and plebiscites are a favorite tool for legitimizing all kinds of authoritarian regimes, both in the past and today.
“In contemporary Ukrainian society, putting highly controversial questions to a nationwide vote can become an additional factor of destabilization and pose a threat to political stability and, hence, national security as a whole. There can also be large-scale political speculations against this backdrop.
“With this in view, one should take a cautious approach to referendums as a mechanism of gauging the will of the Ukrainian people and resort to them only in case of dire necessity.”