‘Accelerating’ Ukraine crisis!


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Ukrayna’da Tırmanan Gerginlik ve AGİT Viyana Belgesi Askeri Denetimcilerinin Rehin Tutulması

Ukrayna’nın doğu ve güney bölgelerinde son haftalarda meydana gelen olayların, Ukrayna-Rusya-ABD ve AB arasında 17 Nisan’da Cenevre’de kabul edilen Ortak Açıklama’yla varılan mutabakata rağmen artarak devam etmesi kaygı vericidir.

Bu bağlamda, sözkonusu bölgelerde yaşanan şiddet olaylarını, kamu binalarının işgalini, alıkoymalar ile özellikle AGİT Viyana Belgesi kapsamında görev yapan yabancı silahsız askeri denetimcilerin rehin alınmalarını, mevcut krizi daha da derinleştiren vahim gelişmeler olarak görüyoruz. Bahsekonu denetimcilerin bir an önce serbest bırakılmalarını temenni ediyoruz.

Gerilimin düşürülmesi ve sivil halkın güvenliğinin temini için, tarafları, Cenevre Ortak Açıklaması ile üzerinde mutabakata varılan tedbirleri tam olarak ve daha fazla gecikmeksizin hayata geçirmeye davet ediyoruz.

AGİT Özel Gözlem Misyonu’nun gerilimin düşürülmesi ve ülke çapında barış, istikrar ve güvenliğin güçlendirilmesi yönündeki gayretlerine tam desteğimizi yineliyoruz. Dışişleri Bakanlığı – 30 Nisan 2014.

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Leader of OSCE National Dialogue Project in Ukraine presents recommendations to Permanent Council

VIENNA, 30 April 2014 – Ambassador Hido Biščević of Croatia, Team Leader of the OSCE’s National Dialogue Project in Ukraine, addressed the OSCE Permanent Council today. He presented recommendations on how the OSCE can contribute to social cohesion and tolerance amid the current crisis.

The project was implemented over a four-week period from late March at the request of the Ukrainian authorities. Experts were deployed to Odesa-Kherson, Kharkiv-Luhansk, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Lviv. They spoke to a wide range of people from state institutions and civil society to assess their views and concerns and to identify entry points for the OSCE dialogue facilitation.

“People in Ukraine share many concerns, regardless of where they live, what language they speak, how old they are, or what socio-economic position they hold,” said Biščević. “In that sense, the challenge of dialogue is as much tapping into commonalities as it is to bridge differences.”

He said many interlocutors favored some form of decentralization, together with stronger institutional links between government and civil society and greater inter-regional co-operation.

“The primary recommendation is for the OSCE to promote and support a broad-based national dialogue in the context of the constitutional process in Ukraine,” said Biščević. He stressed that the OSCE can merely provide assistance in a process that has to be fully owned and led by Ukrainians.

OSCE support could take the form of organizing expert meetings in Kyiv, which would generate input for the draft constitutional amendments, he said. At the local and regional level, the OSCE could support a process of public consultations to gather people’s concerns and expectations with regards to the constitutional process and the future of the country, he recommended.

Biščević also recommended that the OSCE facilitates dialogue as a means of de-escalation at the local level. This could include, for example, the Special Monitoring Mission helping in the peaceful handover of illegally occupied buildings and public spaces.

He also highlighted the need to strengthen national cohesion in the long term. The OSCE could organize activities, including through the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, bringing different segments of Ukrainian society together to promote people-to-people contact.

“I am convinced that stability, progress and prosperity in Ukraine can only be enhanced by the willingness of people to listen and to talk to each other,” concluded Biščević.

The National Dialogue Project in Ukraine was implemented by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine. A core team of five people was based in Kyiv and five teams of two experts each were deployed to locations agreed in consultation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The OSCE Permanent Council is one of the main regular decision-making bodies of the Organization bringing together representatives of all 57 OSCE participating States. It convenes weekly in Vienna to discuss developments in the OSCE area and to make decisions. Source.

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    OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation visits eastern Ukraine

    COPENHAGEN, 30 April 2014 – A senior delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has completed a visit to the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya oblasts in eastern Ukraine as part of the Assembly’s ongoing activities in preparation for observation of the country’s presidential election.

    OSCE PA Vice-President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) led the delegation, which also included Kent Harstedt, the Deputy Head of Sweden’s Delegation to the OSCE PA, and OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver.

    The delegation met with election administration officials, candidate representatives and civil society and was briefed by Long-Term Election Observers from the OSCE/ODIHR in both oblasts.

    The OSCE PA team also met with representatives of local and regional government, including the Mayor of Dnipropetrovsk city and the Deputy Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, to discuss the security situation and preparations for the 25 May vote.

    “While here to get informed about the election and the campaign, the troubling security situation in the east of the country and the unpredictability was an underlying theme in all of our discussions. That being said, our visits to Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya — both neighbours to Donetsk — showed that the current situation is generally calm here,” said Vice-President Kanerva.

    The OSCE PA also visited one of numerous checkpoints established jointly by self-defence forces and security officials in the area.

    “The importance of this election cannot be overstated. Happily, it is clear that this feeling is shared by those we met, who demonstrated strong commitment to the success of this vote and a willingness to overcome the underlying tensions. These elections will be critical to the country’s moving on and addressing the many challenges it faces,” said Harstedt.

    Before joining the delegation in eastern Ukraine, OSCE PA Secretary General Oliver visited Kyiv on 27 April. He was briefed by Tana de Zulueta, the leader of the OSCE/ODIHR’s Election Observation Mission, and her team, on their work to date. Both sides pledged to continue close co-operation throughout the election process.

    Oliver also met with Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, who heads the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Ambassador Apakan provided an update on the work on the Mission, its plans in the coming months, and the security issues affecting the monitors’ work.

    The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly plans to complete additional pre-election visits to Ukraine in the coming weeks.
    This is a press release issued by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The views expressed in this press release do not necessarily reflect those of the OSCE Chairmanship, nor of all OSCE participating States.

    The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is comprised of 323 parliamentarians from 56 countries spanning, Europe, Central Asia and North America. The Assembly provides a forum for parliamentary diplomacy, monitors elections, and strengthens international cooperation to uphold commitments on political, security, economic, environmental and human rights issues. Source.

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    Declaration by the Committee of Ministers on the detention of military monitors on a mission to Eastern Ukraine on the basis of the OSCE Vienna document of 2011

    Strasbourg, 30.04.2014 – The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is alarmed and seriously concerned by the ongoing detention in Eastern Ukraine of military monitors who carried out a visit to Ukraine on the basis of the OSCE Vienna document 2011 on confidence and security-building measures. It condemns this clear breach of the provisions of the Vienna document.

    The Committee calls for the immediate release of all monitors still detained and appeals to all those who may be able to contribute to such a release to undertake all necessary steps to this end without delay and expresses the hope that a swift solution will be found.

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    Déclaration du Comité des Ministres sur la détention d’observateurs militaires en mission dans l’est de l’Ukraine sur la base du document de Vienne de 2011 de l’OSCE

    Strasbourg, 30.04.2014 – Le Comité des Ministres du Conseil de l’Europe est alarmé et sérieusement préoccupé par la détention en cours dans l’est de l’Ukraine d’observateurs militaires qui effectuaient une visite en Ukraine sur la base du document de Vienne de 2011 de l’OSCE sur les mesures de confiance et de sécurité. Il condamne cette claire violation des dispositions du document de Vienne.

    Le Comité appelle à la libération immédiate de tous les observateurs encore détenus et en appelle à tous ceux qui peuvent contribuer à cette libération à entreprendre sans délai toutes les démarches nécessaires en ce sens et exprime l’espoir qu’une solution rapide sera trouvée. More information.

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    Strasbourg, 30.04.2014 – Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz are in Kiev today for talks about the situation in Ukraine, and in particular eastern Ukraine. Meetings are scheduled with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and Foreign Minister Deshchytsia, among others. Austria currently holds the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. Ukraine and the Council of Europe

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    Strasbourg, 30.04.2014 – Le Secrétaire Général du Conseil de l’Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, et le ministre autrichien des Affaires étrangères, Sebastian Kurz, sont aujourd’hui à Kiev pour s’entretenir de la situation en Ukraine, en particulier dans l’est du pays. Ils rencontreront notamment le Premier ministre, Arseni Iatseniouk, et le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Andri Dechtchitsia. L’Autriche préside actuellement le Comité des Ministres du Conseil de l’Europe. L’Ukraine et le Conseil de l’Europe

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    Ukraine: statement of the PACE pre-electoral delegation

    Strasbourg, 30.04.2014 – A pre-electoral delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) visited Kyiv to evaluate the election campaign and preparations for the early presidential election on 25 May 2014.

    The PACE delegation is convinced that, following the revolution, Ukraine needs a democratic and credible presidential election to establish legitimate political authority. Therefore, it calls on all Ukrainian citizens, whatever their political convictions or linguistic and regional sensibilities, to play an active part in the election campaign and to participate in the forthcoming election. Any external interference in the domestic affairs of Ukraine and in the electoral process should be excluded, in order to guarantee the people’s freedom to vote.

    The PACE delegation noted that significant changes have been made to the legal framework for the election during the last two months which could improve its credibility. Regrettably, however, some important issues have not been addressed, including election campaign financing. There is no upper limit on spending for presidential candidates, despite the fact that the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission has recommended capping election campaign expenditure.

    In this regard, the PACE pre-electoral delegation recalls the Assembly’s conclusions after the last presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2012: “The place of money and oligarchies in politics in Ukraine in general and in the election process in particular. This reality appears to have reached even more alarming proportions during this election campaign. Unfortunately, many Ukrainian citizens are seeing the political ‘combat’ as a struggle between different clans and their financial interests rather than between competing platforms and ideas.”

    Traces of this oligarchic dominance are still to be found in the media and in the way the public domain is structured. Although Ukraine has a wide range of pluralistic media outlets, the lack of independence and the lack of transparency of media ownership are matters of serious concern. The Assembly delegation was also informed of cases of harassment and restrictions on the freedom of journalists. It firmly condemns any attempt to undermine media freedom and asks the authorities to provide journalists and others in the media with effective protection.

    The delegation pointed out that the election campaign environment has been affected by tensions, and the interference of armed groups influenced by the Russian authorities, particularly in the eastern regions. Numerous cases of intimidation and violence towards citizens and presidential candidates have been reported. The Assembly delegation strongly condemns all cases of violence. It is crucial that all presidential candidates enjoy equal conditions to freely meet the electors and inform them about their programmes, have equal access to the media and are able to conduct their campaigns in all regions of Ukraine without discrimination and according to Ukrainian legislation.

    The delegation welcomes the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities to enable all Ukrainian citizens whose homes are occupied, such as in Crimea, or are the subject of armed interference, such as in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, to go to the closest polling stations in order to cast their vote. Voters must be sure that they can exercise their right to vote in safety and security.

    The election campaign provides the presidential candidates, with their various political, linguistic and regional sensibilities, the opportunity to exchange ideas and platforms in order to build bridges between the citizens of all regions of Ukraine rather than reinforce dangerous dividing lines. Therefore, it calls on all presidential candidates to assume this heavy responsibility.

    The pre-electoral delegation was informed that the process of registration of presidential candidates was inclusive. Despite the difficult political environment, the Central Election Commission is functioning normally; its sessions are open for observers, media and candidates’ representatives. During the campaign and on election day, all necessary measures should be taken to ensure the security of the entire electoral process, including the functioning of district and precinct election commissions, to avoid possible cases of intimidation or violence towards their members.

    The Parliamentary Assembly will send a 52-member delegation to observe the early presidential election on 25 May 2014.

    The delegation had meetings with presidential candidates and their representatives; with Oleksandr Turchinov, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and acting President of Ukraine; Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk; the Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Lytvynenko; the President of the Central Electoral Commission and the members of OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission. Meetings were also organised with representatives of civil society and the media.

    Members of the delegation:

    Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC), head of the delegation
    Frank Jenssen (Norway, EPP/CD)
    Ingebjørg Godskesen (Norway, EDG)
    Tinatin Khidasheli (Georgia, ALDE)
    Nikolaj Villumsen (Denmark, UEL)
    Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, co-rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee (ex officio) (Sweden)

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    Allies enhance NATO air-policing duties in Baltic States, Poland, Romania

    Fighter jets from Poland, the United Kingdom, Denmark and France take over NATO air policing duties over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday (1 May 2014) as part of enhanced collective defence measures agreed to by Allies earlier this month.

    Canadian jets left Canada on Tuesday (29 April) for deployment to Romania as part of the NATO efforts to reassure Allies in Central and Eastern Europe.
    Canadian jets left Canada on Tuesday (29 April) for deployment to Romania as part of the NATO efforts to reassure Allies in Central and Eastern Europe.

    A ceremony is planned on Wednesday ( 30 April 2014) at the Siauliai airbase in Lithuania when the United States will hand over responsibility for the mission to Poland, the United Kingdom Denmark and France.

    The four countries will officially take over the task on Thursday (1 May 2014). The United States led the mission from 1 January to 30 April 2014. Poland will lead the mission and provide four MiG-29 aircraft. They will be backed up by four British Typhoon jets. The Polish and British aircraft will operate out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania.

    Four Danish F-16 jets will start patrols from Amari airbase in neighboring Estonia. In addition, four French Rafale jets will operate out of the Malbork airbase in Poland. The four Allies will conduct air policing duties for a four month period.

    The six Canadian CF-18 fighter aircraft will be based in Romania as part of the NATO efforts to reassure Allies in Central and Eastern Europe.

    For the past ten years, NATO member states have taken turns sending fighter aircraft to police the airspace of the Baltic States as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do not have fighter jets of their own. NATO’s air-policing mission protects the safety and integrity of Alliance airspace on a 24/7 basis and Allies take up the patrols for a four-month rotation. Allies have traditionally deployed four fighter jets for their rotation, however, NATO increased its presence with additional jets after the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine. Source.

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    Les pays de l’OTAN renforcent leurs activités de police du ciel dans les États baltes, en Pologne et en Roumanie

    À partir du jeudi 1er mai 2014, des avions de chasse venus de Pologne, du Royaume-Uni, du Danemark et de la France assureront les activités de police du ciel dans les États baltes (Estonie, Lettonie, Lituanie) dans le cadre des mesures de défense collective renforcée décidées par les pays de l’Alliance au début du mois.

    Des chasseurs canadiens ont quitté le Canada mardi (29 avril) pour aller se déployer en Roumanie dans le cadre des efforts de l’OTAN visant à rassurer les Alliés en Europe centrale et orientale.

    Une cérémonie est prévue mercredi (30 avril 2014) sur la base aérienne de Siauliai (Lituanie), au moment où les États-Unis transféreront la responsabilité de la mission à la Pologne, au Royaume-Uni, au Danemark et à la France.

    Ces quatre pays assumeront officiellement cette tâche à partir de jeudi (1er mai 2014). Les États Unis auront dirigé la mission du 1er janvier au 30 avril 2014. La Pologne dirigera désormais la mission et fournira quatre avions MiG-29. Ces appareils seront appuyés par quatre chasseurs Typhoon britanniques. Les avions polonais et britanniques opèreront depuis la base aérienne de Siauliai.

    Quatre avions F-16 danois entameront des patrouilles à partir de la base aérienne d’Amari, dans l’Estonie voisine. En outre, quatre avions français Rafale opèreront à partir de la base aérienne de Malbork, en Pologne. Les quatre pays alliés assureront des tâches de police du ciel pendant quatre mois.

    Les six chasseurs canadiens CF-18 seront basés en Roumanie, dans le cadre des efforts de l’OTAN visant à rassurer les Alliés en Europe centrale et orientale.

    Ces dix dernières années, les pays membres de l’OTAN se sont relayés pour envoyer des chasseurs assurer la police du ciel au-dessus des États baltes, car l’Estonie, la Lettonie et la Lituanie ne possèdent pas leurs propres chasseurs. La mission de police du ciel de l’OTAN permet de préserver la sécurité et l’intégrité de l’espace aérien de l’Alliance 24 heures sur 24 et 7 jours sur 7 ; les Alliés assurent les patrouilles pendant des périodes de quatre mois. Jusqu’à présent, il était d’usage que chaque Allié participant à une rotation déploie quatre chasseurs mais, après le déclenchement de la crise en Ukraine, l’OTAN a renforcé sa présence avec des chasseurs supplémentaires. Source.

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    Security Council Meeting on Ukraine

    On April 17, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States issued the Geneva Joint Statement to deescalate the crisis that brings us together this evening. That statement outlined a series of concrete steps to end the violence, halt provocative actions, and protect the rights and security of all Ukrainian citizens. As Secretary Kerry said on April 17, “all of this, we are convinced, represents a good day’s work. The day’s work has produced principles, and it has produced commitments, and it has produced words on paper, and we are the first to understand and to agree that words on paper will only mean what the actions that are taken as a result of those words produce.”

    Secretary Kerry also commended Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister for their cooperation in achieving this hard-negotiated agreement. It was a moment of hope. Since then, the Government of Ukraine has been implementing its commitments in good faith. Regrettably, the same cannot be said of the Russian Federation.

    As we meet, observers from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission are reporting that most of Ukraine – including eastern Ukraine – is peaceful. The exceptions are in such areas as Donetsk, Luhansk, and Slovyansk where pro-Russian separatists continue to occupy buildings and attack local officials. There, we have seen a sharp deterioration in law and order.

    Just today, pro-Russian separatists – armed with baseball bats – stormed the government buildings in Luhansk, seizing control of the center of municipal activity in one of the largest cities in eastern Ukraine. This kind of thuggery mimics the seizures of police stations, city halls, and other government buildings in cities and towns in Donetsk Oblast and surrounding areas.

    In addition to occupying government buildings, over the past two weeks: Gunmen kidnapped a senior police officer in Luhansk. In Donetsk, pro-Russian thugs armed with baseball bats attacked peaceful participants at a pro-unity rally, seriously injuring at least 15. Also in Donetsk, pro-Russian groups continue to hold 17 buildings, including the regional television broadcasting center. In the city of Slovyansk, the mayor was kidnapped, as were several journalists. The separatists in that area now hold an estimated 40 hostages. Nearby, three bodies were recently pulled from a river; each showing unmistakable signs of physical abuse; one has been identified as a local politician, another as a 19 year-old pro-unity student activist. Yesterday, gunmen reportedly chased members of the Slovyansk Roma community from their homes.

    Make no mistake, these are not peaceful protests. This is not an eastern Ukrainian spring. It is a well-orchestrated campaign – with external support – to destabilize the Ukrainian state.

    Finally, as all the world knows, pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk have kidnapped and continue to hold seven international inspectors, openly declared as members of a Vienna Document mission, along with their Ukrainian escorts. My government joins with responsible governments everywhere in condemning this unlawful act and in being outraged by the shameful exhibition before the media of these international public servants. The Vienna Document, agreed upon by all 57 participating States of the OSCE, has been a lasting source of cooperation and military transparency. We call, with others, for the immediate and unconditional release of the inspectors and their Ukrainian escorts and the immediate end to their mistreatment while in captivity. We also call upon Russia, as a signatory to the Vienna Document, to help secure their release, and to confirm publicly – even if belatedly – for the record that the abducted monitors were part of a legitimate mission on behalf of the international community.

    My colleagues, since April 17, the government of Ukraine has acted in good faith and with admirable restraint to fulfill its commitments. The Kyiv City Hall and its surrounding area are now clear of all Maidan barricades and protestors. Over the Easter holiday, Ukraine voluntarily suspended its counterterrorism initiative, choosing to de-escalate despite its fundamental right to provide security on its own territory and for its own people. Unlike the separatists, Ukraine has cooperated fully with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and allowed its observers to operate in regions about which Moscow had voiced concerns regarding the treatment of ethnic Russians.

    In addition, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has publicly committed his government to undertake far-reaching constitutional reforms that will strengthen the power of the regions. He has appealed personally to Russian-speaking Ukrainians, pledging to support special status for the Russian language and to protect those who use it. He announced legislation to grant amnesty to those who surrender arms.

    All this should be cause for optimism and hope. Tragically, what we have seen from Russia since April 17 is exactly what we saw from Russia prior to April 17. More attempts to stir up trouble. More efforts to undermine the government of Ukraine. And statement after statement that are at odds with the facts. What we have not seen is a single positive step by Russia to fulfill its Geneva commitments. Instead, Russian officials have refused to publicly call on the separatists to give up their weapons and relinquish their illegal control of Ukrainian government buildings. In fact, Russia continues to fund, to coordinate, and to fuel the heavily-armed separatist movement. In addition, just outside of Ukraine’s border, Russia has continued to engage in threatening troop movements that are designed not to calm tensions, but to embolden the separatists and to intimidate the government.

    In closing, I emphasize that the United States remains committed to supporting the principles of the UN Charter and will continue to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We continue to seek stability within a peaceful, democratic, inclusive, and united Ukraine, especially in advance of the upcoming important elections. We remain committed to a diplomatic process. But Russia seems committed to destabilization and fantastical justifications for her actions. The truth about what is happening in Ukraine should guide our discussion – because truth is the only foundation on which an equitable and lasting solution to this crisis can be based. Ambassador Samantha Power

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    Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery

    I thank our co-host United States Attorney General Eric Holder for being with us today at this event and his commitment to this vital initiative, the World Bank for their important technical support and Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General Oleh Makhnitsky and Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko who are here with us for their valued presence at this immensely difficult time for their country.

    I am also grateful to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov who I understand has had to return to Ukraine to help manage the very serious situation there. He has our very strong support. I am looking forward to visiting Ukraine next week.

    This Forum on Asset Recovery provides a vital opportunity to forge connections between law enforcement agencies, to share expertise and to agree practical steps to track down assets that were criminally looted from the Ukrainian state by former President Yanukovych and his associates.

    Twenty two individuals suspected of embezzlement have already had their assets frozen in the EU, as you know. But we know from our experience of asset recovery after the Arab Spring that moving from freezes to actually returning stolen funds requires rapid, coordinated and widespread international action, so I am very glad to see so many countries represented here today.

    The task ahead of us is complex and challenging, but it is essential for three reasons.
    First, as a matter of principle, we have a duty to do everything we can to return to the Ukrainian state the huge quantities of funds that Yanukovych and his cronies are thought to have embezzled. These assets should be working to the benefit of the people of Ukraine, not lining the pockets of corrupt former officials.
    Second, we must show there is no safe haven for the proceeds of corruption in order to deter those who might be tempted to steal from the public purse in any country in the future. The people of Ukraine rose up against Yanukovych in large part because corruption and theft of state assets had reached such an appalling level under his leadership. I pay tribute to the many civil society activists, journalists and parliamentarians who worked so hard to bring these abuses to light.

    The Ukrainian people deserve our strong support in tackling corruption, strengthening the rule of law and building a more prosperous future for their country. That is why the United Kingdom is supporting projects in Ukraine to improve governance and public financial management, and recovering stolen assets will also make an important contribution to that effort. And the third reason – we must support the interim Government in Ukraine in its efforts to restore stability, begin the process of reform and prepare for elections on 25 May in the face of enormous pressures and unacceptable actions by the Russian Government even after agreement was reached at Geneva on 17 April to reduce tensions.

    The Government of Ukraine has made some determined efforts to implement that agreement. It has collected illegal weapons, removed roadblocks, initiated an amnesty law for protesters and taken an inclusive approach to constitutional reform.
    But Russia for its part has done nothing to implement the agreement. On the contrary it has continually called it into question, while mounting huge military exercises on Ukraine’s eastern border and unleashing a continual barrage of propaganda and aggressive rhetoric that can only increase tensions.

    And that is why the EU is pressing ahead with additional sanctions and I welcome the new US measures announced yesterday.

    It is why the international community must be united in condemning Russia’s illegal violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and why we must be committed in our support for the right of the Ukrainian people to chart their own course in the future.

    So, I hope that your combined expertise and resources allow us to make practical progress during this Forum to support the Ukrainian Government in identifying and recovering the assets that rightfully belong to it.

    If we are successful in this task, we will be making an important contribution to tackling corruption and to supporting the Ukrainian people in their desire to build a better, more prosperous and stable future. Thank you very much indeed for everything you do. Foreign Secretary William Hague

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    Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit meeting

    PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Lukashenko, Mr Nazarbayev,
    A great deal has been done in the past years, not to mention the past few days, weeks and months, to promote the most advanced integration association on post-Soviet territory.

    I would like to express special gratitude to the President of Kazakhstan, Mr Nazarbayev, who was one of the founding fathers of this association, its motivating force and actually one of its masterminds, if not the only one. This was initially his idea, I remember it well. Yesterday at Moscow State University he presented a serious report based on practical findings, where he outlined the main issues regarding development prospects and the theory behind our practical efforts. All this goes to show that Kazakhstan is taking a very serious and thorough approach to this process.

    The Customs Union that we have created is functioning and bearing fruit. We see this from our countries’ economic performance. This is a clear fact. However, we can make yet another step, as we agreed, to deepen our cooperation, to promote it to a higher level.

    Experts and government members have done much lately. Only recently, our Prime Ministers met to work on these issues, and they have achieved a lot. A thorough 600-page document has been drafted. Of course, the number of pages does not really matter. What does is that this document will make it possible for us to take another step in expanding our ties.

    We have the opportunity to change the quality of our cooperation. This will enhance the competitiveness of our economies, make them more efficient and attract investment both internally and externally. The huge 170-million strong market that we have created can take on an absolutely new quality, acquire additional appeal and become more efficient and substantial.

    True, there are issues that the experts have not fully resolved. This is the reason we have gathered here. However, I will agree with you, colleagues, that we can always make an extra effort and find solutions that would be acceptable to all; we can work and find compromise.

    Let us consider this now. Let us discuss it in this small group, and then together with our experts.

    QUESTION: You have not reacted yet to the latest US and EU sanctions against Russia. How do you explain these sanctions and what impact do you think they might have on Eurasian integration?

    PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: They will not affect Eurasian integration at all. Only the countries actually carrying out this integration can affect it. Today we made a big step forward in our work. It is not always easy to reach agreement at the expert level on various matters of interest to the different negotiating parties, but today we have made real progress and we have every reason to expect that we will sign the agreement within the set timeframe. There are still some matters that need a little more work, but on the whole we have settled practically everything now.

    As for the sanctions, I consider the first package of sanctions an unlawful and hostile act against Russia, and a step that will definitely damage Russia-US and Russia-EU relations. But as for the second package of sanctions, it is not even clear exactly what they are all about, because they have no cause and effect link to what is happening now in Ukraine and in Russia.

    I think they are linked to the fact that our partners tried to settle the Ukrainian crisis using force, then realised what this leads to and are now looking for someone to blame. Let me say though that this has nothing to do with Russia. People say our special forces are present there, say we have sent instructors there. Let me say in all responsibility that there are no Russian instructors, special forces or troops of any kind there. We have no one there. They cooked up this whole mess themselves and are now trying to resolve the problem by using us.

    Can the situation be resolved? It probably can, but this would require the parties to the conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and respect the Geneva agreements. This would mean that the authorities in Kiev would have to release from prison the people in whom Ukrainians have placed their trust and chosen as leaders, and would have to begin direct dialogue with these people. It would mean disarming the radicals, Right Sector and other radical groups, and clearing them out of buildings in Kiev rather than legalising their activities. It would mean equal respect too for the lawful rights of people in other parts of Ukraine, especially in the east and southeast of the country. Engaging in dialogue and looking for compromise solutions is something that must be done. The wrong thing to do is to start looking for scapegoats elsewhere.

    You know, it was handing out those pies on the Maidan that paved the way to this crisis. We need to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and be equally serious about looking for solutions. Let me say again that there is nothing good in these sanctions – they will be damaging. The Russian Federation Government has already proposed some countermeasures. I do not see a need for us to take countermeasures, but if this kind of situation continues, of course we will have to start looking at who is doing what in Russia in different sectors of our economy, including the energy sector. We really have no desire to resort to these kinds of measures, take our own steps in response, and I hope that things do not reach this point.

    QUESTION: How do you view the fact that the USA has taken the lead in the situation with Ukraine, pushing the EU into a background role?

    VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that what is happening now shows us just who was really directing this whole process right from the outset. Initially, the USA preferred to stay in the shadows, given that US interests converged to some extent with those of their European partners, seeing as the European Union, led by the European Commission, wanted to sign the agreements we know with Ukraine, agreements that I think did not offer advantageous terms for Ukraine. The former government attempted to resist this and do something about it, but as I said, the Western community decided to take another road and use force, bring about an anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power, and it seems they miscalculated as to what this would actually lead to. Some liked the idea, gave it their support, and probably a good number of people in Ukraine support it too, as we see. But more people do not like it and do not agree with this form of power. There is nothing democratic about it. These people’s views must be taken into account too, and their lawful rights respected. That the USA has now taken the lead in trying to settle the crisis suggests that it was they who headed the process from the start, but are only now stepping forward as the leaders in the whole thing.

    QUESTION: A group of military observers was detained recently in Ukraine. Ukraine had invited these observers to the country and was supposed to guarantee their security. What is your view of this situation?

    VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is nothing good here at all, neither in the fact that they were sent in this capacity, nor in their detention. If the Ukrainian government or those who call themselves the government in Kiev invited observers, all the more so military observers, as experienced people they should realise they are heading for a conflict zone, entering a region that does not recognise the legitimacy of the current authorities in Kiev, and they should have been aware of this and reached agreement with the people who are in control of the situation in those regions. They did not do this and therefore ended up in the situation we see today.

    At the same time, we understand the concerns of our partners in Europe. I had a private meeting yesterday, met with the former German chancellor, Mr Schroeder, and he also expressed these concerns, given that a German citizen is among those who were detained. I hope that this conflict will be settled and that these people will be able to leave the region without hindrance, but everyone involved in this process should draw the according conclusions from what has happened and make sure to avoid any such mistakes in the future. Source.

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    Costs President Obama is about to pay in Ukraine

    Looks like the United States administration was not mentally prepared for the development of the Ukrainian crisis. The synchronized actions of the new Crimean authorities and the press-conference of the expelled president Victor Yanukovych in Rostov-on-Don gave undeniable judicial advantage to the opposite side in Ukraine who are not ready to acknowledge the illegitimate “government” elected by the rowdy Euro-mob in Kiev three days ago. The United States have no tangible tools to destabilize Crimea, de facto controlled by the Ukrainian anti-putschist resistance forces, while the judicial status of Victor Yanukovych (whatever we think about him as a person and political figure) is indubitable.

    Since the very beginning of the crisis in Ukraine is was clear that the US goal was not imposing a pro-American government in Kiev, but rather making Ukraine a sticking point for the Russia-European relations. The bloody events on Independence Square were organized in order to pull Russia into the vortex of the chaos in Ukraine. The Washington strategists thought that Moscow would be recklessly involved into the dirty games with Poland, Hungary and Romania over “federalization of Ukraine” and the street battles against the fascist thugs in Kiev.

    On Saturday Kremlin has unexpectedly broken its skillful political pause after the attempted last night’s assault on Crimea Interior Ministry in Simferopol by unidentified special units sent from Kiev. Until that moment the Russian ‘inaction’ was much more powerful than thousands of nervous actions in Kiev and statements from Washington. The Russian move is going to be even more impressive.

    Among all “interested parties” in the Ukrainian crisis Russia is the only global power that has demonstrated its ability to act within the framework of international law and to take responsible and sovereign decisions.

    Ironically, today’s Crimea is probably the only region where Constitution of Ukraine is still strictly implemented. The referendum on the issue of the wide autonomy, announced to be held on March 30, 2014, was initiated in full compliance with the national law. The Russian military presence in Crimea is also regulated by the 1997 Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the Russian Navy base in Sevastopol. New Crimean government, unlike the central one in Kiev, was appointed by the local legislative body as a result of properly performed legal procedure. Full analysis.

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    Sanctions: The sanctimonious solution

    Dr. Roslyn Fuller – April 30, 2014/As Moscow withdrew its troops from the border with Ukraine, President Obama announced further sanctions against Russian politicians and businessmen to a chorus of economists gleefully predicting the havoc to be wrought on the Russian economy.

    Of course, there’s not much evidence that sanctions have every actually achieved anything beyond making life difficult for lesser or greater numbers of people. Furthermore, the entire idea runs counter to the creed of global market liberalization so openly embraced by the very people who support slapping sanctions on anyone who indicates that they may not be in complete accord with them on each and every topic under the sun.

    The World Trade Organization (WTO), for example, was supposed to prevent nations from using their economies as a tool in the service of their own political interests. This has long served as the rationale for the WTO’s limited consideration of social rights or the environment when rendering its decisions.

    In the world of international law, sanctions are therefore a bit passé, really. They may have sounded like a good idea 20 years ago, but we’ve all moved on since then.

    Thus, the idea that the USA and Europe are somehow going to bludgeon Russia into submission using a tool that much-more-vulnerable Cuba has blithely held out against for over half a century, is at first glance, worth a laugh. After all, it’s an open secret that the only country the US has managed to isolate with its sanctions has long been itself. In fact, before Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, the United States was – thanks to the long-standing Pan-Am controversy – virtually the only country that wasn’t getting oil concessions out of Libya.

    Much has been said about the overweening arrogance sanctioning Russia displays Max Keiser’s article earlier this week was particularly interesting, especially since it hasn’t been possible to portray these sanctions as the usual punishment for not having a ‘democratic’ government. Are Western leaders really so out of touch that they think (…) Full analysis.

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    The U.S. Opts for Ineffective Sanctions on Russia

    By George Friedman – Placing effective sanctions on a country such as Russia is much more complicated than placing them on countries like Iran or the Central African Republic because the Russians have potential military responses. They also have the ability to retaliate by seizing Western assets in Russia: There are many Western companies doing business in Russia with significant equipment, factories, bank accounts and so on. Moscow also has the power to cut energy supplies to Europe. Whether it would be prudent for Russia respond in those ways is an important question, but the mere fact Russia has a range of retaliatory options is an important consideration.

    Partly for that reason and partly because of a theory of sanctions that has emerged in recent years, the United States and some European countries have largely opted out of placing sanctions on Russia as a whole. Instead, they have place sanctions on individuals and a small number of companies in Russia deemed responsible for actions in Ukraine that the United States and Europe find objectionable. We might call these “precision-guided sanctions,” or sanctions intended to compel a change in direction without inflicting collateral damage or risking significant retaliation.

    The idea of placing sanctions on regimes rather than on nations originated with the obvious fact that if successful, sanctions on nations harm the entire population, most of whom are innocent and powerless, while leaving the leaders who have created the crisis in power and free to shift the burden to the population. The Iraq example is frequently cited. There, a strong regime of economic sanctions was imposed on the country, severely diminishing Iraqis’ standard of living while allowing the leadership to profit from various loopholes intended to ease the burden on the public.

    The idea of sanctions against specific leaders to avoid harming the general public emerged from this and other experiences. This approach has dominated the Western response to Russian actions in Ukraine. By attacking the economic interests of key Russian leaders, or at least of their inner circles, the West appears to be trying to force changes in Russian policy toward Ukraine. This raises a number of important questions. (…) Full analysis.

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