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MOSCOW, April 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was no logic in the West’s readiness to recognize elections in Ukraine without constitutional reform, while refusing to do the same in Syria.
“The Geneva communiqué says that a transitional governing body should be created [in Syria], which will develop the constitutional reform as the basis for general elections. The same sequence of actions was stated in the agreement on Ukraine of February 21: at first a government of national unity, then constitutional reform and only then, after a new constitution, elections,” he said.
“The people who have come to power [in Ukraine] and declared themselves a government did not speak about constitutional reform at all in the beginning and said that presidential elections would be held on May 25. When we reminded them that constitutional reform was their obligation as well and that until they carry it out the east and the south would not recognize the legitimacy of what they were doing, they remembered their obligation but said they would do it later,” Lavrov said.
“The West believes that all this is absolutely legitimate. Those who said that the Syrian presidential elections would not be legitimate without constitutional reform have already practically recognized the legitimacy of the elections in Ukraine slated for May 25 without constitutional reform,” the minister said.However, Moscow will recognize only those results in Ukraine that are based on a comprehensive process, he said.
“Announcing elections before a consensus is reached with the east and south of Ukraine would be destructive for the country. They [the authorities] must prove with actions and do what they promised to do. They said constitutional reform would be carried out and the status of the Russian language would be discussed as the south-east is demanding, and they must start the process that will guarantee that all Ukrainian regions feel comfortable and know that they are heard and engaged in this process as equal parties,” Lavrov said.
Once this process is over, when the reform is ready, it must be submitted to a referendum, he said. “It makes no difference what it is called — federalization or decentralization,” the minister said, recalling US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks at a press conference in Geneva that Ukrainian regions would get autonomy.
“We want to be confident that the interests of the regions are taken into account, that they decide their own fate within the state that respects their interests regarding the language, culture, history, traditions, heroes and their right to interact with their foreign neighbors,” Lavrov said, noting that there were “very many inter-regional ties between Russia and Ukraine”.
“They [regions] want to elect their own leaders, they want to keep more taxes for the development of their regions rather than give them all to Kiev and then wait for its handouts,” he said.