|19-20 November, Sofia
Anton Buteiko, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine
First of all, I’d like to thank the organizers for the hospitality that they showed and I thank for the opportunity to speak before such an audience. When I was suggested to talk about transformation in the Black Sea and Caucasus area before the people that were linked with NATO, I really was in sort of doubt what to speak about. Because all of you – you are best experts on the threats and the means how to meet those threats and challenges. And I decided to talk about something, which may be, may sound unusual. I’d like to draw your attention to the transformation, which is going on, in my country and in the region. That transformation deals mainly with the change of perception of my people of NATO and the EU. It’s not easy for the population, which for decades was brainwashed to show that NATO is imperialistic, aggressive block and EU is the capitalist union to exploit nations and to perceive it in other way. To perceive it as institutions of democracy, institutions of development and hope. I think that it is a remarkable change that happened in the minds of the Ukrainian elite because now both EU and NATO are considered in different way. We know that these organizations are not perfect, we know that they have drawbacks and I reply to some criticism that aired here. But we are convinced that, speaking in terms of my friend and businessman that says: “These institutions are not perfect but they are the best product on the world security market”. Certainly this is a dramatic change in the conscience of the Ukrainians.
Next point I’d like to raise. There is a dramatic change in the area of the Black Sea and Caucasus in the context of aspirations of people. The revolution of Georgia and the Orange revolution in Ukraine have demonstrated something, which was not familiar for these nations for decades. What do I mean? There was understanding by the people, that they are the real source of power. And that happened during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which was unprecedented. The people understood that they could not living in the conditions, that their will was falsified, that their desire to live in democracy was brutally broken. And they were standing at the square in Kiev, thousands, and hundreds, millions of people, standing on the square under the snow, under the rain and singing and dancing. That was singing and dancing revolution. They were doing that being surrounded by the police and Special Forces with guns aimed at them. And that was in my opinion a very dramatic change. And now Ukrainian new authorities born during these revolutions, born by the desire of the people to live in democracy, we want to spread those values of democracy over which both EU and NATO united. We want to spread it in other post-soviet regions. And we are doing that both by our efforts, for example to arrange a conference new democracies and democracies which live already with traditions and on 1st and 2nd December such a conference will be held in Kiev, Ukraine. We invited heads of states and governments from the countries of Baltic region, the Caspian Region, the Caucasus region and Black Sea region. We expect that there will be very good dialogue on the future cooperation.
We also consider that there is a very significant change in the area of the GUAM group. It’s interesting that in the past many organizations were born by desire of some big powers. Now Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan united their efforts. They were concerned with solutions of problems. First problem was the elimination of the weapons under the specific European agreement. So we tried to coordinate our positions. Then we added the need to solve the so-called “frozen conflicts”. Both Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova had those conflicts on their territories. So Ukraine bordered these countries and we were also concerned so we wanted to assist our friends to solve those problems and we united our efforts without any organizational structure. Then, economic aspect was added to our cooperation and now we are on the way to effectively institutionalize this organization. Now it is also working in the context of strengthening democracy in this area.
The further transformation in this area is dealt with the human rights. As I mentioned already, the Ukrainian new authority were born on the fight for human rights and now we want to also solve the “Transdnistrian” conflict on this basis, on the basis of protection of human rights and making settlement on the basis of democracy. That plan elaborated by President Yushchenko is being now fulfilled, is being now implemented. And for the first time in our recent history the actors, important actors, joined our efforts to settle the Transdnistrian conflict. The EU an the USA joined the mechanism of the solution of the problem and we have signed memorandum with Moldova and the EU setting up special monitoring mission on the border between Ukraine and Moldova. So we see good prospects for solution of the issue. Certainly we don’t exaggerate the progress, but we look with optimism in the future.
And being aware that my time is limited I’d like to come back from what I have already started: about the change of conscience, of perception. I will just refer to another example. Even a few years ago nobody could even imagine that in Ukraine there would be a possibility of the meeting of the National and Defence Security Council of Ukraine together with the North Atlantic Council. That happened a few weeks ago and the group of NATO ambassadors visited various regions of Ukraine. One of them visited Harkiv and Ambassador Ivanov of Bulgaria was also there. And can you imagine: the NATO group visited a physical and technical institute of Ukraine, the cradle of nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union. They split the nucleus for the first time in the former Soviet Union. And they have created the atomic bomb for the former Soviet Union. Could anyone imagine that the NATO Ambassadors would visit those facilities. And it was interesting to note that the leadership of this institute, academicians, those who were planning how to destroy NATO countries these days they were proponents of the membership of Ukraine in NATO.
And another example. You may know that Ukraine is manufacturing the largest missiles in the world – Zenit – the missile that was capable to carry up to 10 nuclear warheads to the targets both in Western Europe and in the USA and Canada. We have destroyed the third nuclear potential in the world, larger than that of the UK, France and China combined. And that was also a very big transformation. Today these missiles Zenit are used in joint project – American, Ukrainian, Norwegian and Russian. We now launch these missiles carrying up to 12 commercial satellites and I was invited at the first launch. Can you imagine a long table in the Long Beach in the Headquarters of this project. And there are four teams – American, Russian, Ukrainian and Norwegian. There was a button pushed, the missile started off. There was a signal and everyone started to pour champagne, everyone was happy, there were also representatives of companies which were involved in making orders for use of satellites and then the signal stopped. Could you imagine the feelings of those people? They were high in the sky and then they suddenly went down on the floor. They started to raise up from their chairs and our designer general Mr Koniuhov said: “my missile cannot fail”. People were looking at him sceptical. And then the signal reappeared. It turned out because one company accompanied the satellite to one meridian and another should pick it up; the other did not pick it up. And that pause lasted 1.37 minutes. And I looked at those people from the American side and Russian and Ukrainian and Norwegian. Only a few years ago they were sitting in different parts of the world thinking how to destroy each other. Now they were together, they were wishing each other success because a failure of one of them would mean a failure for all.
So in my opinion this fact manifests the major transformation of this world and I hope that it would be an optimistic one because, I repeat, we can say that NATO and the EU are not perfect but they are the best available.