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Maintenance of Ukraine’s nonaligned status crucial for Moscow - FM Lavrov

September 13, 2014, 16:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
An inclusive national dialogue that should be set on track in Ukraine is of principal importance for Russia, Lavrov also said
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MOSCOW, September 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Maintenance of a nonaligned status by Ukraine is a matter of principle for Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday as he spoke on the ‘Pravo Znat’ /Right to Know/ primetime political talk show of the Moscow-based TV Tsentr channel.

He said it in a comment on a bill lifting restrictions on the country’s membership of military blocs that has been drafted by the Ukrainian government.

“We’re confident that the option fixed in Ukrainian legislation meets the interests of the Ukrainian people, the legitimate interest of all the neighbors and partners of Ukraine, and the interests of European security,” Lavrov said. “Also, we have numerous assurances from our Western partners that they realize the importance of Ukraine’s out-of-bloc status for security in the Euro-Atlantic region.”

“I wouldn’t say this initiative /on changing Ukraine’s status - Itar-Tass/ came from the Ukrainian side as such, because it came from selected politicians,” he said. “Most surprisingly, there is Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk in the first place. It was he who came up with a proposal to submit a document on renouncing the nonaligned status and on taking a course at NATO’s membership and he did it right at the moment when the negotiators in Minsk were coordinating their accords.”

“I can’t assess it otherwise than direct effrontery before the President’s eyes,” Lavrov said. “I think Yatsenyuk isn’t acting in the interests of his people but rather in the interests of the forces striving to sow the seeds of discord between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and to drive a long and broad wedge between Russia and Ukraine.”

“This is Washington in the first place as the U.S. doesn’t conceal its involvement,” he said.

“Virtually everything the Ukrainian radicals and extremists, including the ones seated in government agencies are doing gets a carte blanche from the U.S.,” Lavrov indicated. “No kind of arguments or calls for the importance of taking an unbiased look at the situation and speaking out in support of national dialogue, reconciliation and respects for minority rights deliver the goods.”

“In the meantime, these are the values the West thrusts forwards in any other conflict,” the minister said.

He believes Washington has already proved many a time that its goal is to aggravate this crisis to the maximum and to use Ukraine as a coin for exchange in a bid to isolate and weaken Russia.

Russia is interested in a prosperous Ukraine where citizens of all ethnicities would have equal rights, Lavrov said.

“A powerful, prosperous, and friendly Ukraine is in our interests. It is up to Ukrainians to decide how this will be organized from the administrative point of view,” Lavrov said in response to a relevant question. “We are proceeding from the basic principles.”

“From the viewpoint of our strategic interests, we are interested in seeing implementation of agreements on ensuring single and undivided security equal for all in the Euro-Atlantic region,” he said. “In this context, assurances given to us on NATO’s non-advance to the East play a crucial part.”

Lavrov recalled that Moscow’s proposal to turn the political commitment that would guarantee countries will not tighten their security through infringement on the security of other countries /the commitment was given at the top level in the framework of the OSCE and NATO-Russia Council/ into a legally binding treaty had repeatedly been rejected.

He said NATO representatives explained the rejection by the fact that they may not provide legal security guarantees to anyone but NATO member states.

“In this way they hope to attract as many countries to NATO as possible on the sly while continuing the logic of dividing lines and movement of its infrastructure closer to our borders, which is unacceptable,” Lavrov said.

“In this pan-European context we want Ukraine to be a prosperous, neutral, friendly state in which citizens of all ethnicities /of course, Russians play a special role for us/ would be able to live in comfort, security and on equal terms. That’s what we want,” the top Russian diplomat said.

“How the new state will be called - unitary Ukraine, the Republic of Ukraine, the Federal Republic or decentralized Republic - is not important at all,” he said.

“The dispute that a federation is bad and decentralization is probably possible is absolutely inessential,” Lavrov said.

“It only leads people away from the key task - to agree in essence how people will live, how governors will be elected, legislative assemblies formed, what the status of the Russian language and other languages of minorities /Hungarian, Romanian, Polish/ will be,” he said.

“We need Ukraine to be a real home for all who live in it, and there should be no attempts to establish a form of government there that would reflect the logic of a government of ‘winners’,” Lavrov said.

“But they should agree on it themselves. We can’t solve these issues for them,” he said.

Fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), have killed hundreds of civilians, brought massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine’s southeast.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during OSCE-mediated talks in Belarusian capital Minsk on September 5. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day.

An inclusive national dialogue that should be set on track in Ukraine is of principal importance for Russia, Lavrov said.

“Reference in the Minsk document to the inclusive - that is an all-embracing, with the participation of all the parties involved -- national dialogue is of paramount importance for us,” the minister said.

“Minsk accords are a pattern, a framework where more detailed agreements on practically each item should be woven,’ Lavrov said.

In the Minsk document “there are provisions reflecting Kiev’s commitments to work out a bill on a temporary mode of self-government in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions,” he said.

But it includes “a laconic item of great importance,” Lavrov said specifying “It reads: ‘The continuation of inclusive national dialogue.’ And it has a large amount of compromise as there is no talk about continuing the national dialogue since it does not exist.”

The Russian minister recalled Kiev’s numerous  promises in this regard and said that “the participation of all regions and political forces in the national dialogue, which targets a deep constitutional reform, remains one of the commitments the Ukrainian authorities undertook in line with the Geneva accords of April 17, 2014,” that were signed by foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine and the United States and the European Commission's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

“All agreements that the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) should adopt a law on the temporary status are in essence commitments of the Ukrainian leadership,” Lavrov said. “Lugansk and Donetsk should firstly look at what will be written in this document but it does not mean that the problem is finally solved. The final decision could be reached through consensus upon the results of this inclusive national dialogue.” 

Lavrov also noted that the Russian and Ukrainian presidents do not discuss Crimea during telephone conversations and contacts.

“Crimea was not discussed. I assure you that our presidents do not raise this question during their telephone conversations and contacts,” Lavrov said.

“They discuss whether the Russian side could use its obvious leverage to help Ukraine establish its constitutional process, which was promised in the February 21 agreement signed by Viktor Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Vitaly Klitshchko and Oleg Tyagnibok in the presence of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, and contribute to its successful completion so that Ukraine’s statehood could rest on national consensus reflecting the interests of each region and political force,” 

Furthermore, he added that diplomatic ethics do not allow public disclosure of issues discussed at closed-door talks.

“There must be some ethical rules in diplomacy and politics, and these rules do not allow the disclosure, at least publicly, of what was discussed confidentially via secure channels,” Lavrov told TV Tsentr’s Pravo Znat programme (The Right to Know).

“The incident with [European Commission President] Jose Manuel Barroso is quite noteworthy. It’s hard to justify attempts by some of our mass media to portray it as reflecting the actual intentions of the Russian leadership to send troops and conquer Kiev,” he said.

“I leave that on their conscience,” he added.

“It’s important that we suggested publishing the transcript of the conversation right away… we have nothing to hide and be ashamed of,” the minister said.

He said documents and negotiations were usually marked as classified “to make sure they are not blown”.

Lavrov said he would not write memoirs as “it’s much more interesting to tell them”.

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