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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

09.04.2014

On federalism, Ukraine, rhetoric and accountability (by Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

 

The issue of federalism has become a focal point in the international effort to settle the Ukrainian crises. It started with the EU ill-conceived attempt at solf-landing Ukraine unilaterally into a more positive and sustainable future, presumably, for common good. I’d like to cite two examples of the softening power of federalism.

First. Henry Kissinger in his Diplomacy (1994) wrote about the lack of political culture of moderation in the militaristic Germany, united by Bismarck as a Greater Prussia. This critical flaw wouldn’t dissipate and would ultimately make Germany want to go to war. Our great poet and thinker Fedor Tyutchev, who spent 20 years in Munich as a diplomat, wrote in late 1840-ies, that there was no room in Europe for a united Germany as an empire, only as a federation. History proved him right, but it took two world wars to arrive at the rational solution.

It also proves that such issues are of legitimate interest to others. The history of the first German unification bears witness to something else. The Crimean War, unleashed for reasons that seem petty in hindsight, and, especially, humiliating provisions of the Freaty of Paris, all but destroyed the collective capability of Europe to manage the rise of Germany.

Second. Many stable countries tend to be federations (and the most stable of all, Switzerland, a confederation). That is true of the United States, Russia and others. In some countries, like the UK, federalism is introduced by stealth, i.e. under another name like devolution. Professor V.Bogdanor in his letter to The Financial Times (4 April) explains why. In his view, which I fully share, “a model of democracy based on the untrammelled rights of majorities cannot work in a divided society”. What is required is a dispersal of power, whatever one might call it (power-sharing or anything else). Indeed, “to insist on the absolute rights of majorities either in Ukraine or in Crimea is self-defeating”.

Just to pursue that logic further, the problem of democracy in the EU could be resolved through shaping a Europe of regions as a counterweight to Brussels if, of course, national jurisdictions are to be further trimmed. Brussels bureaucracy and the way it operates have a lot to do with the crisis in and around Ukraine. Unaccountability begets irresponsibility. Brussels means nobody in particular, and European solidarity comes into play to cover the incompetence up.

Anyway, it is only now, that people start recognizing that Brussels has been at fault in its Ukrainian project. As Gideon Rachman concedes in his blog, “the EU treated policy towards Ukraine as a technical exercise”. But for us it is difficult to be that indulgent, since we always inquired with Brussels as to what was cooking, and the response was “you’ll see when the draft Association Agreement has been initialed”. Yes, we saw it and minced no words in that it trampled upon our trade and economic interest vis-à-vis our neighbour.

In response we heard harsh rhetoric supported by capitals of EU member-states. And it was only in the course of the crisis that our EU partners admitted that Russia does have a legitimate economic interest in Ukraine. But the situation in Ukraine had already been rocked by then.

To salvage what could be salvaged under the circumstances, we pushed forward the idea that a deep constitutional process must precede Presidential and parliamentary elections. This sequence was key to the internationally mediated agreement, reached between President Yanukovich and the opposition on 21 February. It was not about the personal fate of V.Yanukovich, it was all about doing things right in a divided and destabilized nation. What could be better than people feeling empowered and assured that nobody will impose upon them someone’s national and historical narrative, which has always been the stuff of civil wars?

The Crimea’s independence and joining Russia helped to get this message across. The recent Weimar Triangle Foreign Ministers’ statement acknowledges the importance of the 21 February agreement and trilateral discussions to stabilize Ukraine.

It now depends on the West whether we achieve those objectives. That would define a real de-escalation. Moscow has always been in favour of dealing with issues of so called “common neighbourhood” collectively. Had it been done that way, we would have no crisis in Ukraine on our hands, nor seen the logic of tit-for-tat unilateralism in action.

But our partners will have to overcome the rhetoric-driven political culture, which is mostly about the looks. May I quote from Senator Mansfield’s memorandum on Vietnam, presented to President John Kennedy on 20 August 1963: “Have we first over-extended ourselves in words, and then, in search of a rationalization for the erroneous over-extention, moved what may be essentially a peripheral situation to the core of our policy considerations?” (Thurston Clarke, JFK’s Last Hundred Days, p.75). The situation is different now, but the flawed method of dealing with it is pretty much the same. And it is the right method that ensures the right outcome.

Why not admit to an error and make things worse? Certainly, it would be a different matter if someone needs this artificially engineered crisis as a refuge from lots of intractable problems back home.




LATEST EVENTS

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Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.


13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.


08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)


25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.


20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.


23.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at presentation of the book "The Mystery of Repentance" held at the Russian Embassy

I’m glad to welcome you here to a discussion of two prominent hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of England, on Christian future of Europe.


12.09.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the exhibition opening (“Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia” 12 September, British Museum)

Today the British Museum and the State Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg are once again proving their unique world class by bringing a whole new civilization to London. Ancient, and almost mythical, but creative, powerful and very different from what we have all known about antiquity – the Scythians.


14.07.2017 - Letter of Consul General Mr Andrey Pritsepov to the Herald newspaper, published 13.07.2017

I NOTE a rather questionable article by Mark McLaughlin (“Russians lurking near Faslane to eavesdrop on nuclear submarines", The Herald, July 11). Do you really believe that 145 million Russians would elect a leader who would command his nuclear submarines to chase someone's sole and lonely operative U-boat which is firing missiles in the opposite direction or Type 45 destroyers with faulty engines or an aircraft carrier without aircraft on it, all of them being located in Scottish waters?



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