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Press Release


LEONID KUCHMA: "WE PROPOSE A PLAN OF THE KOSOVO SETTLEMENT IN THREE PHASES"

April 15, 1999 - Interview by Ukrainian President in the national newspaper "Uriadovyi Kurier"


Question:

The mediation initiative of the President of Ukraine on the settlement of the Yugoslav conflict was made public literally in its first hours, on March 24. Two days later on your instructions the delegation of Ukraine headed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs left for Belgrade. At that time, I ought to stress, nobody else has talked about a mediation yet.

Have we received a response? What is the reaction of the conflicting parties?

Answer:

We keep in constant touch with the parties to the conflict, neighboring states, influential members of the international community. It`s been done at the level of the heads of states, inter alia over the phone, during my visits to Slovenia and Moscow to the CIS Summit, as well as by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the negotiations with the President of FRY S.Milosevic, the head of the Yugoslavian diplomacy Zh.Jovanovic Minister B.Tarasyuk presented in detail the Ukrainian initiative and proposed the mediation services to cease military actions. Immediately upon that member states of the Contact Group, including Russia, were familiarised with the proposals of Ukraine. We were the first. Not everybody accepted Ukraine at once as a mediator. Today, the situation has changed. The last example is the negotiations between Ukraine and "Troika" of the European Union on April 13, in Kyiv, and they are the ministers for foreign affairs of Germany, Austria and Finland. Our guests not only noted a special value of the Ukrainian efforts but called for their intensification.

Question:

Leonid Danylovych, would you be so kind to describe the main elements of the mediation initiative of Ukraine. What are their specifics?

Answer:

We believe that no international dispute may be allowed to grow into a conflict, but should be settled not by force but by negotiations. We are also convinced that no government has the right to exercise terror and violence against its own citizens, to restrict their human and civil rights. At last, the use of force is inadmissible without an appropriate decision of the UN Security Council. That is the crux of Ukraine`s position which was made public in the Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of March 24.

Taking into account this position we prepared our mediation initiative, which as I`ve mentioned above, we had presented to the leadership of FRY and Member States of the Contact Group back on March 27 and 30.

Its principal purpose is to stop sliding down to abyss, to break down the logic of war. The way to that is in simultaneous, I repeat, simultaneous and synchronised steps toward each other.

The plan consists of three phases. At the first phase which envisages such synchronous steps, the authorities of Yugoslavia shall stop military actions in Kosovo, withdraw their armed and security forces from there, create conditions for uninhibited return of hundreds of thousands of refugees under the international supervision of peace-keeping forces. NATO member states shall stop air strikes against FRY.

The peacekeeping contingent could be formed under the auspices of the United Nations, possibly - OSCE, and Ukraine would be ready to take part in it. In the same manner all military actions shall be synchronously ceased by Kosovo Albanians. To ensure control over synchronism and inviolability of the reached agreements, the peace-keepers should be deployed again simultaneously with the withdrawal of the Yugoslav forces.

A critically important detail is that the peace-keepers should be led by a political figure, vested with the UN Security Council mandate - I would name this person a Special envoy or Representative of the UN Secretary-General. The peace-keepers could be staffed according to the principle of acceptability to all sides concerned, which means first of all by the non-aligned and neutral states.

The second phase includes returning of the refugees under the supervision of and accompanied by the peacekeeping forces, deploying an OSCE humanitarian mission to ensure well-ordered return and housing of the refugees and displaced persons.

The third phase could constitute convening of a peace conference in the capital of one of the neutral states.

During all the time until the final settlement of the problem of refugees the international community, first of all European states, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross should provide the refugees-FRY citizens and the neighboring with FRY states, where the majority of the refugees are accumulated, with the necessary humanitarian help.

Question:

The initiatives of the President of Ukraine seem to be repeated in great part in proposals by the UN Secretary General K.Annan in his statement in Geneva of April 9, in the EU statement on Kosovo, in the position of the Non-Aligned Movement

Answer:

We have never tried to make of our initiative a point for competition. The main objective is to bring peace to the Balkans. Ukraine does not claim to have a monopoly on mediation. The fact that our ideas are being shared by others testifies to their realistic nature from the very beginning. By the way, the sooner the parties to the conflict realize it, the better.

As for their specific value - it is in the role of Ukraine. It just turned out that the status of Ukraine, which is not a party to any bloc, is acceptable to all parties as an unbiased interlocutor. For 8 years of the resumed independence we have proved to possess a skill to solve the most difficult problems in a peaceful manner. Back at home, we managed to settle in the same way an extremely precarious [ethnic, historic and humanitarian] problem in the Crimea. Abroad we participated and shall participate in peace-keeping operations including operations in the Balkans. We actively contribute to resolution of the situation around Abkhasia. Ukraine is a guarantor of crisis settlement in Transdnistria.

[Therefore] We have a moral right to state that our mediation efforts are sincere, proposals are realistic, and we have people to implement them.

Question:

Imagine that we receive positive answers from Belgrade and Brussels now. Is Kyiv ready for this?

Answer:

Certainly. I shall talk to both President S.Milosevic and Secretary-General J.Solana. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk will be ready to fly to Washington and Yugoslavia. We are ready to talk to Dr. I.Rugova, also in Kyiv.

But first to end military actions simultaneously . The Action Plan is at the disposal of the conflicting parties. Kyiv is expecting an answer.


For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy,
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400, E-mail: ukremb@cyberus.ca