Peace, stability in Ukraine  only if Int’l law prevails

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VOLODYMYR LAKOMOV
Ambassador of Ukraine talks to Centreline and Diplomatic News Agency (DNA)

Please share with our readers your views about the March 16th referendum?
The so-called “referendum” of March 16th 2014 was a political farce orchestrated by Russia – lacking in political legitimacy, conducted in a crying violation of fundamental international laws. Neither Ukraine nor the international community has recognized this travesty of plebiscite. Ukraine appreciates the support of the international community. It will be unrelenting in pursuit of restoring Crimea’s legitimate status as integral part of Ukraine.

Most observers who participated in this farce represent marginal left and right wing forces. Especially striking was participation of Europe’s neo-Nazi, deeply anti-Semitic politicians. This once again negates the whole premise of the “referendum” as anti-fascist backlash on events in Ukraine.  Any step recognizing or legitimizing the “referendum” will be seen by Ukraine as a deeply unfriendly move and will cause severe repercussions on bilateral level. Ukraine is deeply and painfully aware of the fact that Russia’s aggression brought the world on a brink of a fatal conflict. There are indications that Russia is on its way to unleash a full-blown military intervention in Ukraine’s East and South. Moscow is using its incomparable edge in military force and its nuclear status, violating the assurances given to Ukraine in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and stumping on the Ukraine-Russia Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation.

What is the present day probability of deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine?

According to Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine, no foreign military bases may be located in the territory of Ukraine. At the same time, under the transitional provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine, the use of the existing military bases in the territory of Ukraine for the temporary stationing of foreign military units is possible on the terms of lease, in compliance with a procedure determined by the international treaties of Ukraine ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

The decision on access and conditions of presence of foreign military units (including those from NATO member states) in the territory of Ukraine (e.g. to conduct annual military exercises in the territory of Ukraine with participation of foreign military units) is made by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the basis of relevant submission by the President of Ukraine.

Putin said in his speech that the majority of Crimean Tatars supported this act of aggression and he intended to “complete rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatar people.” Do you think one can trust these words?

“This is absolutely wrong. The allegation of his Crimean puppets that 40 percent of Crimean Tatars took part in this bogus referendum is a load of bull! Of course, it is impossible to name an absolutely accurate number of the Crimean Tatars who took part in the vote because many of them live dispersedly, but there are a lot of new villages where they live compactly and where people of other ethnicities account for not more than 10-15 percent. Surveying the results of voting in these villages, one can have a sufficiently correct picture of the whole ethnic group’s electoral behavior. This survey shows that not more than one percent of Crimean Tatars took part in this ‘referendum.’ Moreover, it is most likely that even those Crimean Tatars who came to the polling stations voted for the second question in the ballot in a hope that this will help stop the annexation. So these arguments of the puppets are of a Soviet-style deceitful nature.”

Could you try to forecast the future situation? What trends can get the upper hand in this situation?

“Peace and stability would be more lasting if there were neither victors nor losers and international law prevailed. But the impression is that one of the sides is not striving for this but wants to impose its will, taking advantage of its military superiority and the other side’s keen desire is to avoid bloodshed. It is very difficult to anticipate rosy prospects in this situation. There can still be losses and major difficulties. Besides, the totally inefficient Crimean leaders, who are under the thumb of Moscow advisors, may bungle the job more than once. The gun-wielding criminals and semi-criminal guys dressed up like ‘Cossacks’ and talking profusely about the need to deport Tatars from Crimea again, may cause a lot of trouble, but, whatever the case, it is our fate and our life, and we must live it to the end.”

Are there grounds to blame the opposition for upsetting agreements on the settlement of the political crisis?

There are no grounds for that. On February 21, 2014, the Agreement on the Settlement of Political Crisis was signed between the then incumbent President of Ukraine V.Yanukovych and leaders of parliamentary opposition. The fact of signing was testified by official representatives of Germany, Poland and France. Russia refused to participate in the process of signing.

The representatives of the opposition kept to their end of the deal by ensuring the adoption of relevant law that restored the validity of 2004 Constitution of Ukraine. The next step was to be made by Mr. Yanukovych by signing the said law and ensuring its entry into force within the terms established by the Agreement.

Having failed to sign the approved law, Mr. Yanukovych violated the formalized agreements and made impossible their timely implementation by all parties. Therefore, opposition representatives cannot be blamed for upsetting the agreements.

 

 Is the declaration of dissociation of V.Yanukovych from performance of constitutional authorities legitimate?

Ex-president Yanukovych left the country in the critical moment of the settlement of political crisis, having failed to fulfill his part of “agreements of February 21”, dissociated from performance of constitutional authorities and stopped the fulfillment of his duties, which created real threats to national governance, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In this regard, and acting under conditions of extreme necessity, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on February 22, 2014 approved its Resolution #757-VII on Dissociation of the President of Ukraine from Performance of Constitutional Authorities and Calling of the Early Elections of the President of Ukraine (May 25, 2014).

 How legitimate was the return to 2004 Constitution of Ukraine and appointment of Acting President of Ukraine?

The restoration of 2004 Constitution of Ukraine was one of key demands of the opposition and Ukraine’s civic society, as well as the first step provided for by relevant agreements with ex-president Yanukovych.

In order to create relevant political and legal conditions for the development of Ukraine during the period before the elections of the President (May 25, 2014), the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved several political decisions, in particular, the Resolution recognizing the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine of 2004 in force in the territory of Ukraine, as well as the Resolution that appointed the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as Acting President of Ukraine.

Are there grounds for accusation of Ukraine in numerous violations of rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens in its territory?

Presently there is no single confirmed case of violation of rights of citizens of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine, in particular, in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. On March 6, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors stated that during her visit to Crimea, she found no evidence of violations or threats to the rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

How legal is simplified granting of citizenship by Russia to Russian-speaking foreign citizens following their renunciation of previous citizenship?

Ukraine’s citizenship laws in force do not provide for the procedure of renunciation of Ukraine’s citizenship, therefore obtaining of foreign citizenship by a citizen of Ukraine on the grounds of his renunciation of Ukraine’s citizenship cannot be considered a legal ground for termination of the citizenship of Ukraine.

Single citizenship is Ukraine’s constitutional norm. If a citizen of Ukraine obtained a citizenship of another state(s), he is recognized as a Ukrainian citizen only in his legal relations with Ukraine. Ukraine’s citizenship is terminated only due to expatriation or loss of citizenship of Ukraine, as well as due to grounds provided for by international agreements of Ukraine. Expatriation is initiated by the citizen of Ukraine while the loss of citizenship of Ukraine is initiated only by the state represented by legally authorized bodies (Law of Ukraine on Citizenship).

Are integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space and NATO accession topical for Ukraine?

NATO accession course was established by Ukrainian laws until 2010. According to the current Law of Ukraine on Basics of Domestic and Foreign Policy dated July 1, 2010, the intention of Ukraine to develop its constructive partnership with the Alliance as a European non-block state is established.

Presently Ukraine’s accession to NATO is not considered. However, subject to considerable worsening of security environment and non-adherence to security guarantees provided to our state, Ukraine will be forced to use all opportunities to provide for its security.