Saturday,
25 March 2017
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OpinionDiplomacy can’t be hysterical

In a row with German Ambassador to Ukraine Ernst Reichel, Ukraine’s political elite has no reasons whatsoever to issue such categorical, hysterical statements toward the German diplomat. First of all, as for the form, it should be noted that he has not voiced any categorical positions. The man was simply contemplating various scenarios while making no sharp statements. His mistake (or political incorrectness) might only be in the fact that he was actually thinking out loud: he was speaking of and considering a variety of scenarios, including the one providing for the Donbas election to theoretically be held before Russian forces are withdrawn from eastern Ukraine. He wasn’t insisting on anything, he was just reminiscing on the examples from German history, explaining that they certainly couldn’t be copied in Ukrainian realities.

Therefore, the hysterical reaction of some of Ukrainian politicians evidences the fact that they do not get the essence of diplomacy, fail to understand a diplomatic position, cannot properly perceive the words of other diplomats, and neither can they communicate and explain their own position.

In particular, it is wrong when Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Hanna Hopko tries to implement the country’s foreign policy through boycotts: her "No" to Viktor Pinchuk’s Ukrainian lunch in Davos, and now – boycotting Ambassador Reichel’s reception. Obviously, she is a young politician and an even younger diplomat, who simply fails to understand that diplomacy is about a constant dialogue and efforts to find a compromise instead of dictating own position. Boycott is, in fact, the easiest way to find the country and own position in isolation. That is why one should reach out to their international partners, talk to them and explain things.

The hysterical reaction of some of Ukrainian politicians evidences the fact that they do not get the essence of diplomacy

Another thing in this regard is that Reichel’s remark covered nothing else but the implementation of Minsk agreements. Hanna Hopko was among other MPs who voted for the amendments to the Constitution based on the Minsk agreements. She also supported other legislative initiatives under a completely fabricated pretext of these agreements being mandatory and necessary for Ukraine. She and those other deputies who had voted in favor, have already agreed with this.

What the German envoy actually recalled – and he did so in a very delicate manner, without any nose-rubbing – was that, in fact, the Protocol signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, the provision on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries is laid out following the provision on holding elections in certain [occupied] parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

So actually these agreements can be read in a way that all military settlement and transfer of control over the border should take place after the elections - Ukraine has already agreed to it, as has the President of Ukraine; it has all been signed and agreed! Over the past two years, the Ukrainian diplomatic corps has persistently convinced everyone that Minsk agreements are the only plan available, with no alternative. And now for some reason, when someone quotes these agreements, people throw tantrums.

What the German envoy actually recalled – and he did so in a very delicate manner, without any nose-rubbing – was that, in fact, the Protocol signed in Minsk on February 12, 2015, the provision on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries is laid out following the provision on holding elections in certain [occupied] parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions

This lacks dignity. This is some kind of a symptom of a child's illness or a mental state when someone gets angry at the whole world over the fact that things happen in a certain way, not otherwise. We must grow up and accept the world as it is. Ukraine has signed off these agreements. If we seek to reconsider them, we need to offer something new, rather than get angry at the people quoting the text which we, ourselves, have signed.

Germany's position on the conflict in Donbas remains unchangeable. Germany is the locomotive of European sanctions against Russia precisely because of the fact that Russia is responsible for the ongoing events in Donbas. Therefore, what the ambassador said regarding Russian forces in Donbas is an absolutely consistent and correct position of Germany.

For Germany’s perseverance in preserving and promoting this stance [that Russia is the aggressor in relation to Ukraine and that the sanctions must remain in place], I believe we should be thankful personally to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Not only does she has a tight grip on German diplomacy, keeping it within this position despite the fact that the opinions regarding the events in Donbas vary greatly, she also makes other EU member states stick to this position. It was largely thanks to Merkel that the hesitating countries or those who, whatever is happening in Donbas, simply don’t want to impose sanctions against Russia eventually supported the position of Germany. In this case we have only to thank the German diplomacy: it is one of the most consistent supporters of this position.

Bohdan Yaremenko is a diplomat, Head of Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation

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