"Aggression should be called aggression since its inception, but not after 20 years"
"Ukraine sees its future membership of the European Union"
Baku. 17 December. REPORT.AZ/ Interview of Report News Agency with the Ukrainian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Alexander Mishchenko.
- This year was difficult for Ukraine. Do you think that the socio-political events in Ukraine and the conflict in the east of the country have reflected in bilateral relations with Azerbaijan?
- This year was extremely hard for Ukraine. This year was a year of calls on the verge the state to be or not to be. But as you can see, the Ukrainian people in this difficult situation as always united in order to build an independent state on the principles of the European model and based on European values. For us the European integration is the main guideline and Maidan showed and proved it one more time. The Ukrainian people are able to rise and unite for the common purpose, rather than in favor of certain political groups in such fundamental issues as the fate of the entire nation.
To respect European values does not mean to take the model of European countries and fully transfer them to Ukraine, we are a country with our traditions, ancient history and culture. And maybe, if we join the EU, we will contribute something different in the European culture.
Today, the situation in Ukraine is very hard and not due to economic problems but people dying. Furthermore, we do not see Russia's desire to stop this tragedy.
I do not consider the current bad state of our economy such a great tragedy. If we are destined to pay by our economy for the opportunity to decide our fate and finally break away from Russia, it is not the biggest price. Those people, the victims are, of course, the unforgivable price, the responsibility for which falls on the Russian authorities.
As for our relations with Azerbaijan, they passed another test of strength. And I want to confidently say that we are grateful to Azerbaijan for the fact that Azerbaijan has taken a political decision in favor of Ukraine in difficult moments and where necessary. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in March on the meeting, where Azerbaijan was one of the few CIS countries which supported us. We realize the pressure brought on Baku and therefore express our deep gratitude and appreciation for their decision.
And the second detail, when there were so-called elections in Donbas, which were carried out with the support of Russia in order to give a quasi pseudo-legitimacy to gangs, Azerbaijan declared its clear position that it does not recognize these elections and supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
Obviously, some figures in our bilateral trade have declined to significant percentage of turnover amounted to metal and metal products, which were produced in Donbas factories, which is now occupied by terrorist groups with support of Russia. Naturally, the volume of trade has fell, nevertheless positive dynamics of bilateral dialogue conserved.
We have been actively discussing further cooperation, in particular in Basel recently within the framework of OSCE Ministerial Council a meeting of the foreign ministers of our countries was held, during which further dynamics of bilateral relations was discussed. It is planned to conduct official visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan to Ukraine. It will be preceded by preparatory work for the visit of the President of Ukraine to Azerbaijan because the last visit of Azerbaijani President to Ukraine was in November 2013. Now it's our turn. However, since early presidential and parliamentary elections have been held, this schedule has shifted somewhat. Nevertheless, we are preparing for this work. A meeting of the bilateral commission on economic cooperation will be preceded by important political events in the framework of our bilateral relations - the first visit of the President of Ukraine Mr. Petro Poroshenko to Azerbaijan.
We believe this visit is very important because it will mark the new approaches of Ukraine in relations with Azerbaijan as a strategic partner. Moreover, the Ukrainian current government is absolutely ready to strictly adhere to these standards of strategic partnership. If Azerbaijan is our strategic partner in the South Caucasus, the most active co-operation should be with this country.
We will discuss which direction to go, where we can use the experience of Azerbaijan. There are so many questions we are interested in; particularly, in the issue of working with IDPs. We have more than 500,000 IDPs in the country. Azerbaijan has great experience in this field. Unfortunately, I can say that today we are in equal positions in this issue. The two countries are the victims of aggression. I have already talked with Deputy Prime Minister of the Azerbaijan Republic Mr. Ali Hasanov, and we agreed that as soon as Ukraine forms the body responsible for these issues, our delegation will arrive to this country and study Azerbaijani experience. The Azerbaijani side has kindly agreed to share all the studies, including the legal framework. For us, this problem has become a surprise, a big challenge for the government, the economy and society in total. These people have lost their homes. Azerbaijan lived the same days 20 years ago and has successful experience in the adaptation of people, creating places of residence, infrastructure, employment, etc., that is vital for us today. I am certain that we will work in this direction.
Well, and other issues - the economy, energy, military-technical, scientific and technical cooperation, construction sector - all these aspects remain on the agenda, and we must prepare broad agenda for the visit of the President, to point out the most important issues of bilateral cooperation to the presidents.
- You have mentioned the reduction of trade turnover between the two countries in connection with the situation in Ukraine. How much have these figures reduced?
- We have observed about 250-300 million USD falling of turnover. In other words, if earlier maximum turnover made up to 1.5 billion, this year, in general, the dynamics of falling to 300 million Dollars in this sphere has been observed, although there is no final figures yet.
I think that when the situation in Ukraine is normalized, everything will be alright. We have developments in other fields - high technologies and high-tech production. In other words. we have a lot to talk about and except exports and metal, which traditionally was and is the mainstay of our bilateral turnover.
How is energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Ukraine?
Energy issues are constantly discussed, and unfortunately, has not yet found its practical realization only because the previous Ukrainian government was not consistent in its negotiations with Azerbaijan. That is, arriving in Baku all officials have said the presence of prospects and importance, but the decisions are not passed on. All Ukrainian plants are focused on Russian oil URALSa, to take another Azerbaijani oil composition, it was necessary to carry out deep modernization of Ukrainian oil refineries, which was not done.
This should have been expected, to invest a lot of money, but all thought only of short-term rewards and when there is a situation with Russia, which uses energy as a weapon, everyone understands that it is necessary to depart from this scheme and to diversify the energy market. Today, more and more inclined to think that it is necessary to begin retrofitting plants and move on to other types of oil, including Azeri.
Once we accept this decision and start upgrading plants, the topic of energy will become for us the number one topic.
Today, I'm sure the new government understands the prospects for cooperation with Azerbaijan and will take decisive steps in this direction.
Today in eastern Ukraine people continue to die. From time to time the media report about a disappearance, kidnappings or even participation of Azerbaijanis in fighting in the east. Do you have information about Azerbaijani citizens detained in eastern Ukraine? Have there been to the embassy appropriate treatment? Were there appropriate handling in the Embassy?
Such cases certainly exist. But since it is a sphere of activity of the Azerbaijani embassy in Ukraine, then at least, these requests come to us. When we were asked by citizens, and there were only a few complaints, we sent this information to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to let them know.As the situation in the area is not controlled by the ATO, I assume that among the Ukrainians and all those who are fighting against Russian aggression there could be ethnic Azerbaijanis in captivity and hostage.I think that there are such cases, I know that there are dead.
And I deeply sympathize to the families of all the victims there, regardless of nationality, because every life is priceless.
According to the preliminary data, to date, more than 600 people - citizens of Ukraine are in captivity, and I'm not sure that none of them are Azerbaijanis.But we are working. Our president, along with a demand to release areas, always demands to release all the hostages, without exception, all the prisoners.I assure you that no prisoner will be forgotten by the Ukrainian authorities and we will fight to the last for the life of every human being.
With regard to the press information on the participation of citizens of Azerbaijan on the side of the separatists, then these are isolated cases, which today are a thorough investigation.However, the official Kiev does not consider these cases as the ratio of Azerbaijan to the events taking place in the east of Ukraine.Unfortunately, in every country, in every nation there are individuals who are ready for their own benefit through transgress the law, morality, a sense of friendship.
How is the situation in the south-eastern Ukraine today? How will this affect relations between the people living in the east and west of the country?
I think it will be a deep wound for our people, but because this situation is inspired from the outside, I do not think that this wound will then provoke a controversy among the population of Ukraine. But when all is calm and all will be called, who organized it, who was the victim, when will lay the constitutional order, then people, the few who support Russia, will see in the end that they were deceived.
It should be noted that neither Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk no, no Zaporozhye, Kherson did not support the terrorism, because it is in Donetsk and Lugansk, all power was formed from the inner circle Yanukovych. This immediate area where were his so-called "fiefdoms" where authorities were his people, and the situation in the east of Ukraine - the result mainly of action this corrupt government.
There has never been a confrontation and hostility between East and West in Ukraine. I myself have finished school and graduated in Donetsk and I can say with confidence - there was not an infringement of Russian language or Russian-speaking population. Every region of Ukraine has its own specifics, "highlight", but it has nothing to do with the concept of "confrontation", "hostility", etc. For the first time the theme of confrontation was imposed on Ukrainian society during the 2004 presidential campaign of Yanukovych. polit.tehnologov team (including Russian).
Thus, using the Kremlin ideologues Yanukovych fought for his power, at the same time, Moscow is in this game pursued its ambitious plans - namely, split Ukraine and thus prevent its release from the influence of Russia and the EU integration.
For example, idea was thrown by experts from the FSB - found fascism junta Bendera and every heresy, which you can think of. In this context, I would like to say, I recently read a great interview by the ex-Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, where he clearly shows the power of Putin. This three methods - bribery, blackmail and provocation.He analyzes all the actions of Putin's crackdown in the country, with such KGB methods. Nothing in his mind has changed, Putin acts the same methods, and he is now implementing them successfully, including in the context of the annexation of the Crimea, and the outbreak of war in the east of Ukraine.
The cynicism of the Kremlin there - accusing the West of all mortal sins, no one wonders why children almost all of today's Russian politicians do not study in Ulan Bator and Irkutsk, and "decaying" West, in America, Europe, with their double standards what we so actively broadcasts the Russian authorities.
New Ukrainian authorities have committed to EU integration. What do you think are the prospects of Ukraine's accession to the EU?
The Association Agreement contains a specific action program of political and economic cooperation with the EU, the implementation of which opens up the possibility of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU as a full member of this organization.
President of Ukraine Poroshenko said that such a perspective for Ukraine can appear after 6 years if all of society, all political forces will display the will and determination to implement, although painful, but at the same time uncontested reforms in all spheres.
The results of snap parliamentary elections are Illustrative in this context. When the pro-European coalition won a constitutional majority of the new composition of the legislative body of Ukraine, that is the policy of Europeanization is currently the choice of almost all of the Ukrainian people.
Ukraine chairs the GUAM next year. What steps Ukraine intends to take, given the GUAM-organization, in which all four countries face problems of territorial integrity?
At a meeting of the GUAM countries, recently held in Basel, our Minister said that we will try to do the job of GUAM more pragmatic, more focused on the problems that are inherent in our region and the main one - is the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each country. Each GUAM country is a victim of foreign aggression. For every fact of such aggression stands either Russia or its interests. That's why, we need coordinated efforts with the help of the international community to curb aggression, stop the war in Ukraine and to return the territories that belong to each of our countries. This should be a priority of GUAM, but it is through the international community, through a report to the world the importance of the fact that the lack of timely response to events in Transnistria, in Karabakh, Georgia, led to the tragedy in Ukraine and can lead on to other hotbeds of tension.
Unfortunately, experience shows that, as a rule, no country, no people do not learn from the mistakes of others. My Azerbaijani colleagues say: "At one time we told you. Look at Karabakh, and will also be in Ukraine". I want to say that no one could believe that this is possible in Ukraine. As well as, perhaps, did not believe to happen in Georgia and Moldova.
I think many people in the world have realized that aggression must be called aggression since its inception, and not wait 20 years to become a victim to this aggression. Unfortunately, those sanctions that are introduced, they are effective, but not enough to stop the aggression of Putin. If you do not stop these appetites today, who knows who will be the next victim of a Kremlin's aggressive policy.
In Ukraine, no one is glad about conflict with Russia, but at the same time, everyone understands that no one but the Ukrainians will fight and die for our freedom and sovereignty. Therefore, in order to stop the aggression diplomatic efforts needed, including at the bilateral and multilateral levels, as well as armed resistance against invaders, who came to our land trying to impose their vision and desire in Ukraine.
So I think that GUAM, as part of the international community, in collaboration with other international organizations - the OSCE, the UN can and should take steps to develop a strategy for the four countries to protect the territorial integrity, its recovery, the return of the occupied lands. And then it will normalize relations with Russia. Indeed, we must and we will cooperate with Russia, but without the aggressive Putin's ideology, which, I believe, has nothing to do with the interests of the Russian people.