Nomandy Four: «winners and losers»

Anna van Densky OPINION Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it is inappropriate to assess the outcome of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris in terms of the “winners and losers“.

Everyone pursued the same objective, that is, to resume the work of the Normandy format after a long break and revive real efforts to find a solution to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine” he explained.

Certain steps, important steps in that direction have been taken, but much more remains to be done,Peskov underlined.

It is inappropriate to say here who was the winner and who was the loser at that Summit,” Peskov concluded.

However Peskov is wrong, because not everyone pursues the “same objective“, and the Normandy Summit projects on the broader political context, where there are “winners and losers” in the protracted Donbass conflict, and their numbers multiply each single day.

Zelensky presidency and Kiev government to deal directly with people of Donbass, whom they formally consider their citizens, but the same time also “separatists” or “occupants“, creates a toxic atmosphere, affecting all spheres of life, including investment climate. However it is mass migration that damages Ukraine the most, forcing the active and skilled population to flee instability, and search for jobs outside the country. During last five years of Poroshneko mandate the figures of departures mounted up to 100 000 people a year. Will Zelensky be able to renverse the trend?

When electing Zelensky, the voters massively rejected the belligerent politics of his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, who ascended power by the violence coup d’état, and launched offensive against the Russian-speaking est of the country, calling the operation a “counter-terrorist” raid. The Ukrainian electorate expects from Zelensky the Donbass conflict resolution without delay. In many cases falsely presented as a conflict between Ukrainian pro-Europeans and pro-Putinites, it is about the respect of the fundamental rights of minorities in Ukraine.

“After Viktor Youchenko attributed a statuts of hero of Ukraine (2010) to Nazi criminal and Holocaust ideologist and active participant Stepan Bandera, the assimilation firmly replaced the respect of minority rights.

If later Petro Poroshenko initiated the inclusion in the Constitution of Ukraine the clause on EU integration, the claim stayed totally nominal, while the EU has 60 regional languages, Kiev marched the opposite direction. The European Union was established as a project of peace, while Ukraine decides arguments with artillery.

Suffocated by chauvinism and corruption, the Ukrainian society is in perpetual conflict with all the national minorities who are denied of the elementary individual and linguistic rights.

The slow motion for the implementation of Minks agreements, also projects on the degradation of relations between the ethnic communities within the Ukrainian society, while they realise that reluctance of Kiev to grant Donbass a special status means a denial of their identity as well. Meanwhile the notorious language law, voted by Rada and endorsed by President Porkoshenko causes concerns of the Venice Commission, making a conclusion that it strips ethnic minorities of use of their mother tongue, violating their fundamental rights.

“The language law, breaching international laws and commitments of Ukraine, is a bad omen for Donbass people, and all the other minorities in the country, but it would be naïve to think that it does not rub off the credibility of Zelensky. Silently agreeing to serve as a blunt instrument of the West to deter Russia, through repressing Russian minority in Donbass, he is undermining his own leadership in eyes of around hundred other minorities living on the territory of modern Ukraine.

While the West is cheering Zelensky, encouraging him to oppose President Putin in a Cold War syndrome style, refusing fundamental rights to Russian ethnic group in Donbass, the entire complex of minority rights in Ukraine are sacrificed, overlooked as collaterals in the crusade against Kremlin. However, hostage to Ukrainian radial nationalists with their agenda of total “Ukrainisation” of population, Zelensky‘s target of “de-occupation” of Donbass creates a self-destructive narrative, betraying his own electorate demanding peace, and surrendering further grounds to nationalists, hailing Bandera, the true winners of protracted Donbass conflict.

Paris to host Ukraine Summit

The Presidency of France announced Ukraine Summit in December in Paris with participation of both Presidents – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky on December, 9.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that all conditions for the meeting of the Normandy four were fulfilled, and the date of the summit is now being agreed upon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed her participation in the Ukraine Summit of the Normandy Four countries on December 9 in Paris.

NATO: Macron follows de Gaulle footsteps

Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on NATO “brain death” have caused shock waves around the globe, exempting those who are aware of the Gaullist foreign policy traditions of the V Republic. (Image: archive).

The state funeral of the President Jacques Chirac confirmed the sentiment of the nation, highly praising the politician who stood tall against American invasion of Iraq, conducting independent foreign policy.

Long queues of people waiting patiently to pass by the coffin of their leader, paying tribute, indicated without ambiguity the direction of the policy to achieve the status of a “great” President of France – the rejection to bent to American whims.

It is highly likely that at the funeral of Jacques Chirac incumbent President Macron felt the state of mind of the nation, and rejected the perspective of entering the history as the “poodle” of President Trump. However may be this time U.S. President is not looking for a “poodele’. Actually he does not have high esteem for NATO himself. During the election campaign Trump assessed NATO as “obsolete”, and afterwards on many occasions promised to pull out the American military from the wars that seem “never end”.

President Trump has already raised questions why the U.S. should continue offering to Europeans “free ride”, requesting the Allies to invest a fair share into their own defense.

Six European allies now are above the threshold sought by US President Donald Trump — Estonia, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK were estimated to have met the 2% defence budget goal.

However the NATO burial concept derives from a few sold reasons: the Alliance task was fulfilled by the collapse of the USSR, ending Cold War; unfair distribution of financial burden within the Alliance or European “free-ride”; the nature of threats has become different, and they can not be addressed by military means. The latter is evident in failure to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan, where on average 55 people are killed daily fighting with Taliban.

The other element, contributing the degradation of NATO is the belligerent strategy of Turkish President Erdogan, representing grave concern for the Alliance in case of the retaliation attack of the Syrian leader Al Assad: the Article 5 of collective defense obliges the entire block to enter the conflict. Article 5 – the milestone of collective defence is becoming increasingly dangerous in modern world, overwhelmed by conflicts.

“I understand what you’re saying; I’ve asked the same question,” President Trump said during FoxNews programme while commenting on a young American to be obliged to defend Montenegro. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.” After all, Macron is not so original, suggesting that NATO brain is dead.

Brexit extension “flex”

The length of Brexit extension is a priority subject in the EU, considering how long should be a new timetable for the UK departure from the bloc.

There are three major suggestions in the air: three months, six months and one year, the last one is propelled by those who hope for the second referendum and derailing Brexit as such.

However Brexit Party leader and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage insists on six month extension, explaining that winter months are interrupted by holidays, and six month extension give sufficient time to organise general elections – the only way out of parliamentary Brexit crisis.

Foreign minister of the Republic of Ireland Simon Coveney said that Britain will be offered a flexible extension that could trigger Brexit well ahead of the new deadline but that the opinions of all EU member states were first needed.

“I think that extension will be a flexible one, that will allow the United Kingdom to leave the EU – if they can get a deal done – well in advance of the end of that extension period which looks like it will be the end of January,Simon Coveney told an audience in Belfast on Wednesday.

G7: Tusk waywardness in Juncker absence

Anna van Densky OPINION The clumsy attempts of the president of the European Council Donald Tusk to influence the decision of British Prime minister Boris Johnson determined to depart from the EU on time with or without agreement, dabbing him “Mr.No-Deal”, look like an agony of the bloc, paying high price for its rusty mechanics unable to adapt to changing context. Teasing has never been an effective method in international politics.

G7 Summit in Biarritz (France) opens an opportunity to built bridges, however the representative of the EU prefers to burn them with provocative information war style public pressure, attempting to challenge Boris Johnson, instead of engaging in dialog with him. War of words with the UK is not what the European citizens wish, concerned by economic consequences of ‘no-deal’.

While American President Trump is actively using G7 platform for rapprochement with the UK, promising mutually beneficial trade deal, the EU has no other message, that insisting of the document that is already ‘dead’. The useless promotion of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which was the EU miscarriage, is aggravated by the contrasting surrealist proposal of Tusk to invite heavily indebted and plagued by ongoing armed conflict Ukraine to G7 ranks. While the oldest European democracy, and second net contributor to the EU purse is abandoning the EU, Tusk has nothing better to offer instead than to promote rapprochement with Ukraine one of 10 most corrupt nations in the world.

Just a week ago President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was hospitalized saving the EU from one more embarrassment, caused by his physical condition. However in comparison with Tusk intellectual inability, and primitive ways of conducting international politics, varying from schoolboy teasing, to lobbying of Polish regional interests promoting Ukraine in a blunt gesture of tribalism, – all of those, evoke nostaliga for Juncker‘s clarity of thinking. Cogito, ergo sum!

Crimea Scythian gold collection stuck in Amsterdam

Anna van Densky  The ambivalent situation around the collection of Scythian gold exhibited in Amsterdam occurred after the Crimean referendum (March 16, 2014), leading to the unification with the Russian Federation, assessed by the EU as “annexation“. Both museums of the Republic of Crimea and Ukrainian state claimed their rights for the treasures of art. In response the Amsterdam Museum have  frozen the transfer of property until the dispute is settled on a legal basis or until the parties reach a peace agreement.

Crimean museums insist that they had received most artifacts from the disputed Scythian gold collection before Ukraine declared independence, Director of the Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malgin, said to TASS Russian news Agency.  According to international rules, Dutch museum, where the collection was exposed, should return them to the parties that provided the treasures for an exhibition, he added.

Our main argument is that these items were excavated in Crimea and were kept in Crimean museums, so Crimea has stronger ownership rights. We insist that this is part of the Crimean people’s cultural heritage. Crimean museums have owned a large number of the items since the Soviet era or even since pre-Revolution times (1917),” Malgin underlined.

Crimean museums have documents proving that they owned these treasures long before Ukraine became independent, he explained.

Malgin reminded that that a whole exhibited collection of various items from different museums had been sent to the Netherlands to be displayed in an art event. At the time of the exhibition, the items formally belonged to Ukraine’s Museum Collections on display in Crimean museums. Even after world wars, many treasures returned to the museums from which they had been pillaged, Malgin reminded  .

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed a verdict in the Scythian gold case, requesting the parties to provide further information, particularly on the ownership rights. According to the judges, the parties have been given two months to provide the requested information. “A final judgment may be expected in six to nine months’ time,” the Court pointed out. Until then, the Scythian gold collection will be kept at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam.

The Republic of Crimea historians, and art historians have certain fears the decision of the Court will be entirely politicized is spite of their rights to keep heritage in the Republic of Crimea, where it belongs.

The Scythian gold is a collection of  more than two thousand artifacts with an insurance estimated value of about $2 million, which were included into the exhibition Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, held from February to August 2014 at the Allard Pearson Museum Amsterdam.

Next year Crimea commemorates hundred years of  Russian State” on its territory, the stronghold  of the monarchists,  losing the Civil war to Bolsheviks, after the collapse of the Russian Empire. Tragically the White Army soldiers in Crimea were tricked by the promises of amnesty if they surrendered, the estimated number of following Red Terror executions vary  from 50,000 to 120,000 people.

А total of 145,693 White guards and civilians were saved in evacuation by sea (pictured below) by the end of 1920, however they did not take with them any artifacts from museums and palaces of Crimea, departing with a hope to return.

Крым эвакуация

Zelensky NATO performance

Anna van Densky OPINION UkrainePresident Volodimir Zelensky declarations at NATO headquaters could be hardly considered as good news for inhabitants of Donbass – joint drills in July with Alliance vessels in Black Sea can not be mistaken for a flight of a dove with an olive branch.

Zelensky is ready to negotiate Donbass conflicts, but only in the context of NATO integration. It means to continue imposing on Russians in Donbass the vector of development they had initially rejected – to choice a camp of Russia’s foes. But not only, it means the complete submission to a totalitarian Ukraine language law, stripping Donbass of their minority national and linguistic rights, destroying their identity.

National identity became a huge problem for ethnic Russian on the terrotries of the former USSR, when a number of former Soviet Republics have chosen for openly anti-Russian policy, eradicating Russian language and identity in contradiction with international law, and European values. Ukraine has taken an aggressive stance against Russian minority, who voted for its independence unaware it would be the beginning of the end of their national identity profile.

President Putin promise to facilitate the procedure of issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens of Russian origin, based on widely used practiced of jus sanguinis, accepted by the majority of the NATO allies, has caused concerns of the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He said it would ”destabiliseUkraine, omitting the fact, that the opposite, namely the attempt to eradicate Russian identity is behind the political turbulence of Ukraine, degrading into an armed conflict.

The denial of the fact that the Ukrainian state, being composed in different political contexts from different territories with autochtone populations, causes tensions fueling into conflict. In rejection of human rights, identity rights, linguistic rights of Russian, Hungarian and other minorities, Ukraine weakens the state, wasting a great deal of time and energy for suppressing the justified claims.

The declared by Jens Stoltenberg Ukraine-NATO drills in Black Sea in July, will serve as demonstration of power to Moscow, senseless and dangerous, enhancing Russia, the nuclear superpower to protect its borders, and assume it role as a guarantor of psychical survival of Donbass populations, threatened to be exterminated by Ukrainian neo-nazi as it happened in Odessa massacre (2014),  where they cremated Russians alive.

The official restoration of fascism in Ukraine took place in 2010, when President Yushchenko attributed status of national hero of Ukraine to a nazi criminal and terrorist Stepan Bandera, who led extermination of 300 000 Jews in Ukraine in a number of huge pogroms.

Jens Stoltenberg underlined that NATO is an alliance of democracies, subsequently the West should require respect of democratic values first, before undertaking rapprochement with Ukraine, contaminated by neo-nazis. The enforcement of Kiev  by NATO without demanding authorities to assume their responsibilities to respect democratic values, and minority rights will also nourish the most marginal political forces, interpreting the rapprochement as la carte blanche to return to Stepan Bandera ideology of Ukrainian nationalism.