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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

Are we stepping out of gray monotony zone?

Lviv forum launches nationwide discussion of national security
27 April, 2010 - 00:00

Lviv – A large-scale conference gathered experts in national security and international relations from 20 countries, including those of the European Union, Russia and other CIS nations, the USA, and China. For two days at the plenary session and five thematic sections, 38 experts from abroad, along with 280 Ukrainian scholars and public figures discussed the development of the security situation around Ukraine, in Central European, and other European nations.

The readers will remember that this authoritative international event was initiated by leading Ukrainian scholars, statesmen, and public figures on Dec. 4, 2009, the 15th anniversary of the signing of Budapest Memorandum on safety guarantees, in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The Public Council on International and Security Policy (created on Dec. 15, 2009) led by Academician Volodymyr Horbulin was the forum’s major mastermind.

The challenges to Ukraine’s national security which were discussed at the forum included the institutional weakness of Ukraine as a state, the inadequacy of state administration, Ukraine’s being in the so-called “gray zone” between NATO, the EU, and the West as a whole, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other – the “strategic sandwich” which threatens us with pressure from both sides. Economic problems, the degradation of the infrastructure, including social infrastructure, primarily in the sphere of education and health care, also were on the table.

The Day already interviewed the experts about the importance of the forum on the eve of its opening day. Today, we offer our readers a view from the inside: the participants to the Lviv conference will share their views on the timeliness of the discussion on security.

Janusz Onyszkiewicz (Poland), president, the Council of the Euro-Atlantic Association, considers the international security forum to be important primarily due to the discussion of such serious problems as the creation of the European Union’s foreign policy and defense according to the new Lisbon legislation. The discussions will concentrate within NATO framework, and Ukraine is involved as a partner. Also, the new strategic conception will be discussed, as well as the harmonization, in the OSCE framework, of the actions of all the members of this extremely complex structure.

“The discussion concerning the future structure of European security is extremely urgent, and we eagerly listened to Ukraine’s suggestions and visions concerning its security. It is of critical importance for us,” emphasized Onyszkiewicz.

Olha Herasymiuk, MP, member of the parliamentary committee on Eurointegration, head of the subcommittee on NATO cooperation, is convinced that now, when Ukraine’s international policy tends to change without explanation of the underlying motives, we need something more than just the developing of the network of such forums in the future.

“The forum may for some time become a tool for controlling what is going on in the state,” said Herasymiuk. “The issues discussed here have not been a subject of an authoritative discussion for a long time already.

“Both the previous leadership, which gave so many reasons for reproof, and the present leadership, which has evoked even more questions in such a short term in office, have never involved such a competent expert pool in the decision-making process.

“I am convinced that the event initiated in Lviv is of primary importance, and it has to be continued. It has to be further developed, and (I have already spoken about this with my fellow MP Taras Stetskiv) we will try to fill the parliament with expert opinions, because sometimes the conclusions offered from the Verkhovna Rada rostrum suggest the level of a kitchen discussion. At least I cannot recall a single speech in the VR which would be as competent as those at the Lviv forum.”

According to Fedor Shelov-Kove­diaiev, director for expert projects, Russian Public Policy Center foundation, “it is irresponsible when neighbors do not communicate on an everyday, constant basis.” While there have been established good contacts between Russia and, say, France, Germany, and the USA, the communication between Russia and Ukraine is for some reason much more complicated.

“We often lose sight of each other, which at times provokes paranoid reactions. As to the theme of the forum, I believe that certain security problems are common not for individual nations, but entire civilizations.

“In particular, for European civilization it is energy consumption, immorality of economy, civilizational crisis, demographic depression, the military sphere, and the third world countries’ discontent with the international situation. Thus, there is a load of problems which have to be solved rather than taken as something unavoidable. All of us have to outline our stand on these main issues first, and only then discuss the details, such as border demarcation and the like.”

Abzal Nukenov, director, Institute of Modern Research at the Gumilyov Eurasian National University (Kazakhstan), does not consider the issues of Ukraine’s sovereignty, its territorial integrity, the Crimea, and the Russian Black Sea Fleet to be capable of stalemating the situation, i.e., leading to a direct conflict.

“Of course, there is certain controversy on these issues,” Nukenov said, “but the abovementioned problems, just as those which I didn’t name, have historical and economic roots and can fit the diplomatic system. So in my opinion, partners only have to take a closer look at each other, and try to understand and find additional paths to consent. There are no insoluble problems. This is what such forums exist for: meeting, discussing, and arriving at a compromise.”

Based on the results of the discussion, the participants in the Lviv security forum issued a resolution, in which they:

stated the presence of a strategic instability in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea area, which constitutes a source of current and potential threats and challenges to the national security of certain countries in these regions and Europe as a whole;

noted the growing jeopardy to individuals, entire societies and nations of Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, and the international community as a whole, provoked by corruption, transborder organized crime, the growth of piracy, illegal drug and arms trafficking, illegal migration and human trade, cyber threats, and other present-day challenges, as well as international terrorism;

fully supported the efforts made by the US, Russia, and other nations, aimed at the reduction of nuclear threat and the creation of global international confidence and stability;

acknowledged Ukraine’s contribution to the assurance of regional and global security, and its leadership in the process of non-proliferation nuclear weapons and their components;

praised the international expert communities’ aspiration for the development of a meaningful and constructive dialog aiming at a quality contribution to the creation of international confidence and the development of global and regional security and stability;

proposed to organize in Ukraine a permanent expert club for the discussing of the problems of European security and advising national leaders and governments, as well as international organizations.

The organizing committee of the Lviv Security Forum also recommended to heads of states and governments of Ukraine, OSCE members, and other nations

to intensify the activities aimed at the improvement of the legal framework of European security, in particular, in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea area, involving the potential of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum;

to concentrate efforts on transforming the present state bodies and local governments into modern public institutes based on European principles and democratic standards, with their cardinal modernization as a basis for ensuring every aspect of the national security of Ukraine as an important contributor to regional and European security;

to establish close and efficient partnership and cooperation for the joint neutralization of current and potential challenges and threats to security and stability, originating first of all in organized crime and corruption, international terrorism and cyber crime, on the basis of the tools provided by the active international organizations, in particular, the EU, OSCE, NATO, the Council of Europe, and others; at the same time, the forum noted the particular importance of establishing efficient constructive interaction with nations like China;

to implement not only a symmetrical and non-discriminative contractual, legal, and practical guarantees for the transparence of energy markets, but also objective control, via instrumental means, over the physical parameters of the energy resource flows;

to actively develop international military partnership and the military and technical cooperation for the strengthening of confidence and the global system of military security as a key component in joint international security-guaranteeing measures with other legal and institutional measures in the political, economic, environmental, and humanitarian spheres.

“Personally I am satisfied with the results of our forum,” said Yevhen Marchuk, member of the forum’s Supervisory Board, director, Institute for Security Problems, to The Day. “First of all, because it was a forum of practicing experts in Ukrainian, regional, and international security, topnotch specialists in their field.

“We were able to enjoy a free and interesting environment, get involved in heated debates at times, which allowed us to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

“The issues we have to consider very seriously concern the changes in the security sphere surrounding Ukraine, as well as worldwide problems, and, naturally, our domestic issues. Of course, the main discussion centered on Ukraine’s bloc or non-bloc, neutral status, in a situation which is dramatically changing at present. And we have had quite a fundamental discussion of this issue from various aspects.

“We are planning to prepare an analytical document, based on the information analysis and generalizations of the forum’s workings, with accents on the major challenges to Ukraine’s security, and to formulate recipes for the Ukrainian leadership. How it is going to use it is already a different issue.”

In the opinion of Oleksandr Chaly, member of the forum’s Supervisory Board, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe, the Lviv forum has triggered a nationwide discussion on the elaboration of Ukraine’s new foreign policy security strategy.

“This is its key achievement and its contribution to the history of our security policy,” Chaly told The Day. “It is also important that it is the first time that this forum has raised the question of Ukraine’s security not only in European, but also in global context.

“We said that Ukraine needed a more ambitious security mission and security behavior, and that Ukraine should not be afraid to create problems in this sphere, as long as the defense of its own national interests is at stake.

“And the last thing: it is utterly important that at the core of all our discussions was Ukraine and its security formula, which, in my opinion, has to be defined by all means, because we are living in such a strategic situation when we do not perceive ourselves as either NATO or CCTO [the Collective Security Treaty Organization] members.

“There is a variety of options: after the close of the forum, the expert elaboration of our theses will continue. By the way, the very fact that Lviv became the starting point for a nationwide security forum is an event of exceptional importance: unfortunately, over the 19 years of independence, we have not been able to create such a public discussion platform.”

Taras Vozniak, member of the forum’s Supervisory Board, editor in chief, independent magazine Yi for culture issues, believes the forum to be of utter importance due to several reasons.

“We have witnessed the binary organization of the world (the West vs. the communist bloc), and the rise of a monopolar world with the US as the dominant player. Now the world is becoming polypolar: China is rapidly gaining power; Russia is returning to the heavyweight bloc; India, Iran, Brazil, and the European Union are changing the general picture of the world,” said Vozniak.

“The late president of Poland was the last representative of the world dominated by the US. The forum aspired to interpret all these events, and see whether they threaten Ukraine or not. Of course, it is important that the forum became a public initiative in the first place, which means that civil society in Ukraine is exceptionally strong.

“At the forum, absolutely different viewpoints were represented, in particular, those concerning China and the US, as well as totally dissimilar positions concerning the domestic Ukrainian affairs. Consequently, we had a sensible discussion, which will allow us to elaborate pragmatic suggestions concerning the solution of the present Ukrainian situation.”

Yurii Shcherbak, member of the forum’s Supervisory Board, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, emphasized that working in sections was especially interesting. In particular, there were stimulating detailed discussions concerning not only military or environmental security, but also personal, mental security, with the participation, among the others, of representatives of the Siegmund Freud Institute from Austria.

“The discussion of the system of power in Ukraine was also important,” said Shcherbak. “The participants in the debate stated that the Soviet system of power had been preserved in Ukraine, but it lacked the Soviet leverage of control, which we all have experienced.

“Today, we are on the verge of very serious structural changes, and we must realize this. It is also important that the forum addressed the questions of party construction in Ukraine because the 187 parties this country has do not ensure party democracy; while minor parties, which involve up to five percent of the population, can hardly be considered as serious structures in European and the international contexts.”

“We are leaving the gray monotony zone,” states Shcherbak. “The needle of the Ukrainian compass is dashing as if powerful magnets were put round it.

“It is of crucial importance that the members of the forum had an opportunity for intensive communication and thus were able to obtain additional information first-hand. This is a very positive moment, because the world community had been getting a distorted image of Ukraine. We had been ‘decorated’ with primitive labels to show that Ukraine was on the brink of disintegration, and Ukraine even got compared with Afghanistan: like, what a disgrace, Ukraine is incapable of assessing the situation adequately and making its own suggestions.

“In this respect, the forum fulfilled and even overfulfilled its mission. Lviv in general, and the forum in particular, gave us all a feeling of inner intellectual freedom, and this is not a compliment — this is sheer truth. We hope that the Council on International and Security Policy will become an influential factor of the political life in Ukraine.”

By Tetiana KOZYRIEVA, The Day