June 21, 2015

Visiting BINTEL — Corneliu Pivariu

Corneliu PIVARIU

President&CEO of INGEPO Consulting.

Maj Gen — (ret.)

Member of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London (2006), Friends of Europe Think Tank — Brussels, alumni of Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education and  member of The Academy of Political Science — New York.









"Romania and Ukraine have solved their bilateral problems by using only peaceful and civilized processes. We can be an example of solving differences in the 21st century"

Borysfen Intel (BINTEL): We, Ukrainians, pay tribute to our neighbors — Romania, Poland, the Baltic states — who are our advocates in joining the EU. But how do ordinary Romanians perceive current events in Ukraine? What do personally you remember from all of this, and what impressed you most of all?

Geostrategic Pulse (G.P.): We and the rest of the sensitive and worried citizens of our country have had our eyes on the course of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Crimea, even though Kremlin attempted justifiability with the so-called referendum, amplified the concern since it seriously defied the international order and law governing international relations. Russia’s continuous aggression in the east of Ukraine and its support for the secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk have augmented our worries and concerns and we have been particularly impressed with the loss of human lives and other destructions. Also, we were very impressed with the determination and desire shown by volunteers who protected their country by fighting against the aggression.

BINTEL: Did you ever have to persuade your friends regarding the events taking place in Ukraine?

G.P.: There was no need to draw anyone’s attention on the development of the situation in Ukraine. It has constantly been one of the major foreign policy themes, important for our country, Europe and the world in general. In fact, by approaching the war in Ukraine in almost all the issues of the “Geostrategic Pulse” since the conflict has begun, we noticed the special interest and receptiveness of our subscribers to this situation.

BINTEL: At some point, the newly formed Romanian Government took the European course of the country's development, including for NATO membership. The Romanian Armed Forces quickly became stronger; they began being armed with modern military equipment. What do you think was the most difficult for them, and what without doubt Ukrainians will experience, when they will be joining NATO?

G.P.: After December 1989, all the Romanian governments have pursued the necessary reforms leading to our country’s membership to NATO and the EU. The surveys carried out along time indicated that most of the citizens (approximately 80%) highly support these two foreign policy objectives. This support allowed the achievement of the necessary reforms, though they were not very easy. I can say that the reform of the Romanian Armed Forces was the national structure that primarily supported the country’s accession to NATO, be developing in numerous forms the cooperation with the US and with the other NATO members. The resizing of troops, the introduction of professional troops instead of the national service have been important challenges to which the Romanian Government and the Ministry of National Defense needed to provide the best solutions. The modernization of equipment has always been an important objective for the Romanian army, but it can be achieved only if the state budget provides the necessary funds and other forms of cooperation. The Romanian troops’ participation to theaters of operations from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in other international missions, contributed to the live training of these troops and enhanced cooperation with NATO structures. The Romanian troops are highly appreciated by their comrades from other NATO armies, including due to the lives that have been sacrificed in battle.

BINTEL: Ukraine closely monitors the life of the Ukrainian community in Romania. It is not as active as the Romanian community in Ukraine (passports, media, schools, universities). But! Do you not think that if ignored, this issue can develop into events like those that we see in the East of Ukraine? After all, Russia does not mind supporting separatist movement in Western Ukraine...

G.P.: Romania gives a lot of attention to the rights of all the minorities our country. Without being wrong, we can say that we are a model in the European Union in this respect, as observed by various European organizations. Each minority, regardless of the number of members, has a representative – deputy — in the Parliament and that is not the case of many other countries. Consequently, the Ukrainian community is represented by a deputy in the Romanian Parliament. Officially, there are approximately 60,000 people in the Ukrainian community, although certain members of the community speak about higher figures. There are schools where pupils are educated by using the Ukrainian language and some universities have certain classes taught in Ukrainian as well. Romania does not ignore the rights of any minority, but it respects all their rights and even goes beyond the European standards in this respect. Under these circumstances, I do not believe that Russia could ever successfully use the rights of the minorities in order to destabilize Romania. It would be great if all the countries gave real rights to minorities according to our standards. However, this is a national issue for every country and therefore it is managed in accordance to the country’s political will.

BINTEL: Ukraine and Romania have resolved their territorial disagreements in a civilized way, and they have not led to confrontation. Can it be considered an example of a civilized resolving of disputes of the 21st century?

G.P.: That is true, Romania and Ukraine have solved their bilateral problems by using only peaceful and civilized processes and in this respect, I agree with your opinion that we can be an example of solving differences in the 21st century.

BINTEL: What do you think of the idea of ​​creating a united European army? When the idea of ​​the EU rapid reaction force was announced, not everybody perceived it first.

G.P.: The ideaof creating a European army is not new, it started to be analyzed and debated ever since the beginning of the Union. The “Geostrategic Pulse” periodically analyzed this subject, most recently in issues 187/20.03.15 and 189/20.04.2015. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has quickly turned this theme into a serious concern for the European Union. The European security strategy was issued in 2003 and in was approved on 12 December 2003. The European Defense Agency (EDA) was created in 2004. In our opinion, the creation of an effective European army is still a remote objective for the European Union; there are numerous political and economic issues to be settled prior to the achievement of this objective. The European countries can discuss defense issues within NATO and the appearance of a European army is, in our view, fully complementary and cooperative with the North Atlantic Alliance.

 BINTEL: This question is about history, in particular, of World War II, which fully covered Ukraine and took the lives of 7 million of its citizens. That war pulled Romania into its whirlpool too, and it had to take vital decisions, and we remember that King Michael was even awarded the Soviet Order of Victory (one of the 16 awarded this Order). Does the Romanian society perceive this war and its consequences unambiguously? Are there in your society attempts to explain Romania's participation in that war in a different way due to political reasons?

G.P.: Romania’s participation in the Second World War was influenced by a series of internal and external factors that are easier to explain after the events, as it always happens in history. King Michael is the only head of state survivor of the war, highly appreciated by our citizens and officials. The Second World War has meant immense destructions and the loss of numerous lives as well as the constrained installment — with the support of the Soviet army in Romania – of a political regime undesired by the Romanian people. Only in December 1989 we managed to change our political and economic direction, as desired by the people.

BINTEL: Romania, Moldova with its Trans-Dniester. Do you think the time will come when they will be part of one country? Indeed, in its recent publication “Borysfen Intel” predicts that Moldova will be the next victim of Russia's “hybrid war”.

G.P.: This is a very complex issue and although it depends on the will of the two parties (it takes two to tango), it is being influenced by numerous foreign factors, out of which one of the most important is definitely Russia. Moscow does not want a settlement for the Transnistrian problem, which has been continuing for so many years exactly because the interest is to maintain presence in the region (a second Kaliningrad). Republic of Moldova’s political and economic course towards European integration represents a factor that draws near the two Romanian nations. This course will determine our future evaluations of the relations between the two countries, but I emphasize again, the will of the two countries must be respected. As for the chances that Moldova turns into the next victim of Russia’s “hybrid war” as you said, we could say that there are chances for that, but not in the immediate future. Russia is very present in Moldova; it exerts political and economic influence, leverages that will be used first of all to achieve its objectives. If they turn out to be insufficient, it may act in ways similar to what happened in Ukraine.

BINTEL: What do you think about the possibility of joint implementation of Russia and Europe "Bosnian scenario," or other projects of federalization (confederation) towards Ukraine?

G.P.: I definitely rule out this possibility as an option of the European Union. Russia will try to achieve its political and military objectives in Ukraine by all means possible. This is neither simple, nor easy, and we hope and desire that Ukraine becomes again a unitary and independent country with the borders that existed before the aggression in 2014.

BINTEL: Provide your vision of the possibility of lifting or easing of political and economic sanctions of the West against Russia before the end of this year.

G.P.: I do not believe that the sanctions against Russia will be eased or lifted by the end of this year if Moscow does not act as established. Since the Minsk Two Agreement seems not to be respected by Russia, I see no reason for easing or lifting these sanctions, but on the contrary, they should become even stronger.

BINTEL: What do you think about the necessity, the feasibility and prospects for Ukraine's entry into a single effective for today coalition system of collective defense of the North Atlantic Alliance-NATO?

Is it possible in this context to consider as a first step Ukraine’s accession to the NATO Membership Action Plan? Is it compulsory?

G.P.: The Membership Action Plan (MAP) is a serious step to the possible accession to NATO, but it does not provide the security guarantees of the member countries.

BINTEL: Is it necessary to hold a referendum in Ukraine on joining NATO? If yes, when and under what circumstances?

G.P.: A political decision based on the results of a referendum provides the highest legitimacy. A referendum on Ukraine’s joining NATO could take place when politicians are prepared to take determined steps into a direction or another and when it wants to have the popular opinion clearly manifested through a referendum and not through an opinion survey. If the opinion surveys are clearly favoring one or the other of the options (as it was the case in Romania), the referendum is no longer necessary.

BINTEL: Which is the most appropriate and correct procedure for the entry of the applicant countries (including Ukraine) in the European Union and NATO? What should go first and what is the next? That is, first NATO and then the EU? Or vice versa? And why?

G.P.: Accession to the European Union is, in our opinion, a much more complex process and it needs a higher number of reforms than the entrance to NATO, which is not a simple process either. The procedures can be carried out at the same time; they do not exclude one another, but they are complementary and, of course, very specific. Those fulfilled first will establish the possibility of accession. The strategic objectives of the Kiev leadership are also important, as well as the popular support of these reforms. You, the Ukrainian state, you must decide the priorities. The real conditions in every country and the international context determine the chances of one option or another.

BINTEL: What, in your opinion, is the most effective method to return the Crimea to Ukraine? How can the ​​international organizations and Western countries (especially the European) and the US, Canada, Japan and Australia support Ukraine in this context?

G.P.: It would be wonderful if I had a detailed and practical solution to this problem. I think priority must be given to the diplomatic and peaceful processes, doubled by any other measures that exclude an open military conflict between parties. As the Romanian President said during its visit to Kiev in March 2015, Romania and all the other countries of the European Union support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Crimea’s returning to Ukraine. If the UN does not have at the moment or in the near and medium-term future the possibility of having a decisive role in this problem — due to Russia’s Permanent Member status in the Security Council — I think that the support provided by the countries you mentioned as well as by other international organizations can contribute to the achievement of this objective. The political leaders and diplomats from Kiev must definitely have an active and decisive role in the process.

Thank you for the opportunity of expressing these points of view.