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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ukraine holds series of national roundtables in order to stabilize situation in the country, as situation in Eastern Ukraine remains tense

Ukrainian national reconciliation talks in Kyiv
(Image: Radio Svoboda, AFP)
Amid the continuous clashes and skirmishes in Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Ukrainian Armed and security forces launch an anti-terrorist operation, Ukrainian interim government starts series of national roundtables and negotiations in the framework of the national reconciliation talks aimed to resolve the deepening crisis in the country and to eliminate separatist and terrorist activities in the region.

The first meeting and first round of the national dialogue has been held on Wednesday, 14 May, in Kyiv, in the building of Ukrainian Parliament. This meeting was attended by the representatives of Ukrainian Parliament and interim government, intellectuals, activists, lawyers and civic activists, NGOs, businessmen, spiritual leaders and heads of the regional authorities, including the troubling Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The talks were also attended by the Western diplomats and officials, including German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The talks were also attended by two former Presidents of Ukraine as well. Ukrainian government opened the national roundtables in order to hold an open dialogue with all the representatives of Ukrainian politics and society and to finally find constructive and, the most important, peaceful solution if the crisis.

It’s worth mentioning though that leaders of the separatists’ entities in Eastern Ukraine and leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics were excluded from the talks. It happened from two reasons: first of all, pro-Russian separatists and terrorists have previously stated that they have no intentions to hold any talks with “Kyiv junta”, as they call Ukrainian interim government, repeating the rhetoric of Russian Putin and Russian media; the second reason was that Ukrainian government refused to hold any talks with the armed terrorists, who continue to kill, torture, kidnap and terrorize the people. Thus, separatists’ leaders weren’t presented.

Ukrainian Armed Force launching anti-terrorist operation
in Eastern Ukraine
(ImageL Kyiv Post)
The first round of talks was marked mostly by the general discussions regarding the possible ways of resolving the crisis and reporting about the results of the anti-terrorist operation, being held in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Parliament speaker and acting President Oleksandr Turchinov has stated that Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation had several significant successes, as several terrorist checkpoints and military bases were destroyed by Ukrainian soldiers and joint forces of National Guard and SBU. Dozens of militants have been already killed as a result of the ongoing military operation; many of them have been arrested. Unfortunately, Ukrainian Armed Forces have losses as well, and more than a dozen of Ukrainian servicemen have lost their lives since the beginning of the operation in April. The operation will continue and won’t be suspended in the region, even during the national roundtable, stated Oleksandr Turchinov. It’s worth mentioning, that some of Ukrainian political forces, such as Party of Regions (political power of the fled ex-President Victor Yanukovich) has demanded an end of military operation in the region and total withdrawal of Ukrainian troops. Mr. Turchinov though has declared during the talks, that anti-terrorist operation will be suspended or stopped only after the armed bands and groups will give up their arms, free the seized buildings, and release all the kidnapped people and stop terrorizing the people in the region. And anti-terrorist operation won’t stop until this moment. Ukrainian government is ready to listen to the representatives of the region and to try to find the common solution, but only after the arms will be given up. Ukrainian government won’t hold any talks with the terrorists and criminals, and they will be treated according to the law, stated Mr. Turchinov.

During the national dialogue talks Ukrainian government represented the ways of resolving the crisis and also the program of decentralization of power in the regions, which will enable the regions of Ukraine to become more independent in resolving its internal issues. This plan though has nothing to do with the federalization, demanded by Russia.

Oleksandr Turchinov, Ukrainian acting President
(ImageL Express UK)
National reconciliation talks are also based on the OSCE roadmap of the resolving of Eastern Ukrainian crisis, which includes disarmament of the sides, stop the violence, negotiations and presidential elections. OSCE representatives have welcomed the beginning of the national reconciliation dialogue, initiated by Ukrainian interim government and Parliament, and have supported Ukraine in its struggle for the united country and territorial integrity and security of its citizens. EU and USA in their turn have also expressed their support of Ukrainian government’s actions and supported also the talks.

Some Ukrainian politicians, such as one of the presidential candidates Sergiy Tygipko, offer to hold the second round of the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, mediated by EU and USA, similar to Geneva talks. Ukrainian side is ready for the talks, but only in case if Russia will show its readiness for these talks as well and will make the real steps in order to de-escalate the situation. Russia though didn’t do anything in the frameworks of the Geneva Agreement, on the contrary, it continues to escalate and destabilize the situation in Ukraine. NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rassmussen has stated recently, that Russia hasn’t fulfilled its obligations according to the terms of Geneva Agreement.

Thus, the talks are ongoing amid the continuous anti-terrorist operation and terrorist activities of the militants in the region. Meanwhile, Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed “authorities” have declared on Thursday, 15 May, that they give Ukrainian government 24 hours to withdraw its troops, military technique and checkpoints from the region and threatened to forced Ukrainian soldiers off Donetsk and Luhansk, if this ultimatum won’t be met.

Thus, the situation remains tense, as Ukrainian authorities continue an anti-terrorist operation and the roundtable talks as well. The next stage of the reconciliation talks is expected to be held in Donetsk on 17 May, Saturday.