Sitting on de-fence
Having lost a chance to decently access the Non-Aligned Movement, the government showed that Ukraine’s non-bloc status will be short-lived, a KW article by Andriy Starostin reads.
At the end of the summer of 2012 Ukraine declined a proposal of Iran to activate its non-participation in military blocs within the framework of Non-Aligned Movement. The policy could be activated thanks to qualified participation of the top-level Ukrainian delegation at the XVI NAM summit at the level of heads of state held August 26-31 in Tehran. While the involvement in the NAM initiatives in 2012 would help the government to benefit, Kyiv decided to go a different path. Instead of participating in the official ceremony of the Tehran Summit opening, the president of Ukraine chose to pay a working visit to the Donetsk Oblast on August 29.
Kyiv’s refusal from full-fledged accession to the non-bloc club have been accompanied by publications in Russian and Ukrainian press dedicated to formally distant from NAM. The key news was allegedly a technical error in the text of the congratulatory letter of the President of Iran to his Ukrainian counterpart. It was reported that on Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24, a congratulatory letter was posted on the website of the Iranian president that stayed there for several hours. It was addressed to Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yushchenko, not the current President Viktor Yanukovych.
Earlier, the leaders of non-bloc states did not show particular persistence in inviting Ukraine’s leaders to attending previous NAM summits in 2003-2009 held in Malaysia, Cuba and Egypt. Ukraine’s presence at these summits was limited to the participation of plenipotentiary ambassadors and representatives. It was very clear that Kyiv did not want to be a “black sheep” in the region then and fully intended to join NATO just like the rest of Eastern Europe.
Ukrainian political analysts are trying to find an explanation to what is behind the spectacle of “short-term non-bloc status” which official Kyiv is absorbed in. According to pro-government experts, protraction of the pause in developing a new status is nothing other than testimony to the fact that professionals have come to power in Ukraine that are capable of finding a solution that would inure to the benefits of national interests. Opponents of the ruling government insist that the current semi non-bloc policy of Ukraine is merely a very simple way of downsizing the country’s armed forces, claiming that they are helpless and are pulling the country into the cobweb of military blocs dominated by Russia.
NAM summits are held once every three years. The next summit is scheduled for 2016 right after the next presidential elections in Ukraine.