Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all I would like to express gratitude to the Slovenian side for organizing this seminar. I am sure that at the time when the decision to organize this seminar was taken, no one could have imagined that the issue of conflict resolution and prevention, including mediation, would become so urgently important, and this time – on the European continent.
Today’s situation in Ukraine puts forward even bigger challenges for experts in conflict resolution and mediation. I think that the typical approaches to conflict resolution, as well as mediation tactics should take into account the specifics of the situation – when the conflict directly involves a country, which is a key player with significant influence on regional and global affairs.
I would also like to underline the importance of operating with truthful and reliable information in any effort to resolve and/or mediate a conflict. For instance, we all know the formal justification of the aggression in Ukraine - it is the protection of the rights of the Russian speaking Ukrainian nationals. In this regard, I’d like to reiterate – no international organization or observation mission has ever confirmed that any of the Russian speakers in Ukraine were ever deprived from enjoying their rights in Ukraine.
As you know, the Ukrainian side is truly committed to the use of political and peaceful means for the resolution of the conflict, in particular employing diplomatic negotiations, as has been demonstrated from the beginning of the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
But we ask our partners to use all their influence and diplomatic connections to engage the Russian Federation into effective dialogue.
At the same time, we understand that the economy is undoubtedly an important factor, which should be considered in building relations between states, each country has to protect its economic interests. However, there comes a time when economic considerations become of secondary importance. Consider – what is the price of a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? This question should be contemplated by each of us.
And let us not think that “this cannot happen to us”. As cautioned by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey on March 8, 2014 “If Russia is allowed to do this, which is to say move into a sovereign country under the guise of protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine, it exposes Eastern Europe to some significant risk, because there are ethnic Russians enclaves all over Eastern Europe and the Balkans”.
I am sure that today’s seminar will help us to get closer to finding effective mechanisms of mediation in different situations. In the meantime, I remain hopeful that the Crimean conflict will come to a peaceful resolution and Russian aggression will be stopped. There is still a chance to do this.
Thank you for attention.