Informal diplomacy will stop the conflict in Donbas – Oleksandr Klymenko
Besides the Minsk process, informal diplomacy and dialogue within the Ukrainian society are needed for the real conflict resolution in Donbas, wrote Oleksandr Klymenko, ex-Minister and the founder of the community initiative “Restoring Donbas”, in his column on the US website Newsweek.
«The conflict is taking place on a civilizational rift… between “pro-European” western Ukrainians and “pro-Russian” Ukrainians living in the East of the country. The conflicting interests between the two… have been simmering for decades. Last winter, these contradictions quite literally blew Ukrainian society apart. Resolving the conflict will demand a great deal more than a simple ceasefire », — he writes.
Accodring to Klymenko, in order to settle the conflict, it is necessary to put in place mechanisms of informal diplomacy «track-II diplomacy». Informal negotiations between academics, NGOs, religious leaders and other non-state actors will help not only to ease tensions, but «could lay the groundwork for long-term structural changes», politician thinks.
Ex-Minister is convinced that if peace is to become a reality, it is necessary to eliminate «rifts between everyday Ukrainians». «At present, the two sides simply do not hear each other. They speak different languages, both literally and figuratively. Recrimination must be replaced by a search for common ground, the quest for reconciliation», — he writes.
Truth and Reconciliation Committee may become one of the chances to build such a dialogue, Klymenko thinks.
«From 1974 until 2007 32 of these forums have operated in 28 countries. The most famous of them – is a commission, created by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1995 with the purpose of reconciliation of nation and overcoming of apartheid consequences. Similar models helped engender a sense of understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation in societies as diverse as Lithuania, East Germany, Tajikistan, Rwanda and Sudan», — ex-Minister wrights.
Among top priority reforms Klymenko emphasizes of regional decentralization that «has been promised in words by many leaders, including Petro Poroshenko».
«The degree of popular involvement in political life is invariably inversely proportional to the risk of conflict. Disputes over “who feeds whom” must be skillfully avoided. Creation of Special Economic Zone in Donbas can turn the region into the «engine of prosperity» instead of «decades of constant need», — he believes.
Klymenko also insists that Ukraine should remain a non-aligned and neutral state. «Ukraine’s accession to NATO in the current situation would likely only aggravate the conflict. Instead, Ukraine’s leaders should look to normalize relations with Russia within the framework of the association signed with the European Union», — he writes. «This will help provide a wide economic support in the matter of restoration of Donbas both from the part of E.U., United States and Russia», adds politician.
«Sitting astride the border between East and West (in the broadest sense), Ukraine has the potential to be either a bone of contention or a bridge between these two global-defining spheres of influence. We Ukrainians can and must choose the second role. If we can make peace with each other, our unique geographical location means that we can serve as a positive force for wider reconciliation», — summarizes Klymenko.
Link to source: Gazeta.ua