June 1, 2016

Ukraine's Diplomatic Offensive in Istanbul

Oleksiy Volovych

On May 23-24, Istanbul hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, attended by about 120 heads of states and governments. All in all, more than 6 thousand delegates participated in the Summit, including, in addition to the heads of states and governments, profiled ministers (of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Emergencies) and leaders of communities and societies, managers of private companies, heads of scientific circles, international and national NGOs, representatives of youth, civil society, national minorities. At the same time, of all the heads of the “Big Seven”, Istanbul was visited only by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The leaders of the five countries-permanent members of the UN Security Council did not come either.

Apart from the UN Secretary General, the Summit was attended by heads of programs, funds and specialized UN agencies — the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the IMF, the World Health Care Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Population Fund and the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The main task of the Summit was to consolidate the efforts of the international community to respond to humanitarian challenges posed by natural and man-made disasters and armed conflicts, in order to reduce the suffering of civilians. The UN Secretariat determined three main objectives for the participants of the Summit: to confirm the devotion to the interests of humanity and humanitarian principles; to commit to the political, legal, institutional and financial support to the “Agenda for the Mankind”, which would allow countries and communities to ensure preparedness for crises and take measures in response to them; to share best practices that help save lives around the world and alleviate human suffering.

The press release of the UN Secretariat reads that the world has not seen so large scale of human sufferings since the Second World War, as it does today. Almost 60 million people, half of them children, are forced to leave their homes due to conflict and violence. Today there are about 130 million refugees and displaced persons. Over the past 20 years, natural disasters have been leading to worsening of life of 218 million people annually. And annual losses caused to the world economy by natural disasters, exceed 300 billion US dollars.

The Program of the Summit included the following activities: the opening ceremony, plenary session and the announcement of the commitments taken; a national leaders' meeting at the round table at the highest level with a view to considering the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time; holding special sessions to address important initiatives proposed by the participants of the Summit; briefings, seminars, workshops and panel discussions; demonstration of work, products and programs, helping the humanitarian aid; functioning of online platforms through which governments, humanitarian organizations, commercial companies registered obligations to take measures to implement the five key tasks of the Summit participants.

In his report “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on UN Member States and humanitarian organizations to revive the values ​​of humanism, to unite the international community to carry out the five main tasks of humanitarian activity: preventing and ending conflicts; compliance with the rules of warfare; no one should be forgotten; change in methods of work to get rid of poverty; investing into protection of the interests of humanity. Ban Ki-moon called on the Summit participants to achieve tangible progress within the next three years.

Speaking at the Summit, its host, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his hope that the Summit would end in adoption of a document, which would help change the lives of millions of people struggling to survive in a variety of social upheavals and natural disasters. “Pain has no color of skin, race, language or religion”, Erdogan said. He also said that, based on this understanding, Turkey provides assistance to 140 countries around the world and has sheltered more than three million refugees from Syria and Iraq. “Humanitarian needs are increasing from day to day, but the sources of their coverage have not increased. While our country has allocated more than 10 billion US dollars on the refugees, the global volume of aid is only 450 million dollars,” Erdogan said. He also reminded that Turkey gave shelter to “three million Syrians and Iraqis”, and the republic “will never close the doors to people fleeing from bombing”.


Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko's Activity at the Summit

During his working visit to Istanbul to participate in the World Humanitarian Summit, President of Ukraine was accompanied by the MP of Ukraine, Commissioner of the PresidentofUkraine for the Affairsof Crimean Tatar People Mustafa Dzhemilyov, MP, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov, the Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territory Issues Vadym Chernysh.

In his speech within the framework of the Segment of leaders, Ukrainian President pointed out, “the universal values ​​of the United Nations Charter are questioned by one of those who are called to protect them. Geopolitical ambitions are put above the principles and norms of international law, and — above human lives.” P. Poroshenko stressed that the humanitarian consequences of Russia's aggression against Ukraine account for more than 10 thousand dead and more than 22 thousand wounded Ukrainian citizens, as well as about 2 million internally displaced persons.

Based on Ukraine's experience in overcoming Russia's aggression, P. Poroshenko outlined three key elements to respond to conflicts and humanitarian challenges: firstly, to restore respect for international law and to ensure the effectiveness of international instruments in order to resolve conflicts and to bring to justice those who began them; secondly, to be united and unanimous, resolute and consistent, and to show strong political leadership; thirdly, it is very important not just to pay attention to addressing urgent humanitarian needs in time, but also to seek durable solutions in order to prevent conflicts. P. Poroshenko assured the Summit that Ukraine is ready to make a significant contribution in support of the “Agenda for Mankind”.

In his statement during the plenary session of the World Humanitarian Summit, P. Poroshenko said that Ukraine was counting on cooperation with international organizations and partners in the creation of a multilateral trust fund to support rehabilitation and efforts to develop the Donbas. The Head of the Ukrainian State stressed that Ukraine supports the initiative of convening the World Forum on Conflict Prevention before 2020 to find effective cooperation of the UN member states in dealing with crises.

In his address to the participants of the high-level Round Table “Political Leadership in Preventing and Stopping Conflicts,” the President of Ukraine was forced to admit that “the dream of a harmonious world is more remote today than it was yesterday, because this dream is not shared by all”. Then P. Poroshenko explained what is demonstrated by today's Russia, “which sees democracy as a threat and the freedom as poison”. According to the President, freedom, democracy, free expression, fundamental human rights are a precious asset, not a commodity. Therefore, the world of democracy and freedom cannot endure such things as violent redrawing of borders and destruction of the rights of minorities.

During P. Poroshenko's meeting with the President of the Republic of Turkey R. Erdogan, they agreed on training 3 thousand Ukrainian Policemen in Turkey. The Head of the Ukrainian State stressed that within the framework of the training program “Teach and Equip”, Ukrainian policemen would also be given appropriate equipment. The two Presidents also agreed to hold similar exercises for the units of the National Guard. According to P. Poroshenko, the meeting ended in an agreement on mutual protection of investments and an agreement on avoidance of double taxation, which opens investment opportunities for Turkish investors in Ukraine and for Ukrainian investors in Turkey. During this meeting, it was also agreed to intensify the negotiations on the Free Trade Area in order to remove any obstacles in bilateral economic cooperation. The two sides discussed new bilateral projects in the sphere of mechanical engineering, aircraft and defence industries, and agreed on prolongation of the validity term national visas for continuous stay of Ukrainians on Turkish territory up to 90 days.

During the meeting President P. Poroshenko met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, and drew the interlocutor's attention to systemic violations of the rights of the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in the Crimea occupied by Russia, and called on the Council of Europe to increase pressure on Russia. The interlocutors also discussed the progress of Ukrainian reforms. T. Jagland welcomed the election of a new Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the Ukrainian President's efforts to reform the judicial branch of power in accordance with European standards.

The main issues of P. Poroshenko's meeting with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte were the entry into force of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, and the completion of the EU's decision to introduce visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. The two sides also discussed the situation in the Donbas. P. Poroshenko said that he hoped for further solidarity and unity of the European Union on the issue of support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular, maintaining of the EU sanctions against Russia to Moscow's full implementation of Minsk Agreements and restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Portugal, António da Costa, theUkrainian Head of the State expressed his gratitude to the Portuguese government for its consistent support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within the framework of international organizations. Discussing the current situation in the Donbas, P. Poroshenko drew his interlocutor's attention to Russia's numerous violations of the Minsk Agreements. He called on the Portuguese side sending to the Donbas an armed OSCE Police Mission and expressed confidence that a large Ukrainian community in Portugal will continue to contribute to the strengthening of friendly relations between the two countries. The interlocutors pointed out the great opportunities for enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the economic sphere.

During P. Poroshenko's meeting with the President of the Slovak Republic Andrei Kiska, theyexchanged views on important issues of bilateral relations and international cooperation. In particular, the sides discussed prospects for creation of the Eastern European gas hub, as well as the algorithm of Kyiv-Bratislava interaction in the direction of European integration in the context of Slovakia's EU presidency in the second half of 2016. The conversation was also about Slovakia's assistance in reforming the Ukrainian economy and its support to decisions of the governing bodies of the EU to introduce visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. P. Poroshenko and Andrej Kiska agreed on holding this year a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Slovak Commission on Economic, Industrial and Scientific-Technical Cooperation. Ukrainian President thanked Slovakia's government for supporting Ukraine's position on the inadmissibility of the project “North Stream-2”.

Within the framework of his working visit to Istanbul, Petro Poroshenko met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and discussed the preparation of his visit to Baku. The Presidents agreed to hold in the nearest future the Joint Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Azerbaijani Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation.

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The main result of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul was the formulation of a set of voluntary commitments by the overwhelming majority of countries in the world, providing for taking measures to better get prepared for crises and responding to them, as well as to increase their resilience. If at least a tenth of these commitments is fulfilled, it will be a great achievement.

The Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul was a turning point that will lead to a change in the global community's approach to preventing human suffering. The main results of the Summit are in the summary of the discussions. Besides, there will be prepared a list of basic obligations to take measures, and all the commitments made at the Summit will be listed in the action online platform. Subsequently the UN Secretariat will prepare a report on the main results of the Summit.

Norwegian expert Jan Egeland, who for years has been the Head of the UN Office for Humanitarian Issues, expressed hope that the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul will help to change things for better. He believes that the greatest achievement of the Summit is that at the same time so many people involved in humanitarian work managed to participate in the Summit. However, according to him, despite all the efforts, humanitarian aid does not reach millions of people in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya and other countries. He believes that the world's leaders, many of whom ignored the participation in the Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, “at least decided not to provide support and assistance — money and weapons — to those countries which systematically violate humanitarian laws of war, bombe hospitals, humiliate children and women.” Jan Egeland pointed out with regret that “people with guns who have power, do not really comply with the Security Council's advice and are in no hurry to fulfill them”. He believes that it is necessary to radically restructure the entire system of humanitarian aid. According to him, in terms of continuous growth of needs, when compact humanitarian organizations have become “humanitarian corporations”, competition and lack of coordination between them leads to the fact that aid often does not reach those most in need.

President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko has repeatedly said that restoring the country's sovereignty over the occupied part of the Donbas and the Crimea, is possible only through political and diplomatic settlement with the help of the leading countries of the world, because there is no military way to return these territories. It is therefore logical that P. Poroshenko actively participated in the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul with the aim to use this opportunity to once again bring to the world community Ukraine's official position on the territories occupied by Russia in order to ensure international support for this position. The President also drew attention of the international community to the humanitarian catastrophe that occurred in the occupied part of the Donbas and for which Russia's leadership is responsible.

The activity of the President of Ukraine at the Summit in Istanbul was especially important on the eve of the Summit of the “Big Seven” in Japan, May 26-27, which addressed the entire range of issues related to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, including the issues of extension of international sanctions against Russia because of its failure to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk Agreements.