TEHRAN - Peter Stano, the spokesman for the EU Enlargement Commissioner, rejects the view that tension between the West and Russia is the root cause of the crisis in Ukraine and blames Moscow for the current situation in Ukraine.
“The reason for the Ukrainian crisis is not the tension between Russia and West,” Stano said in an interview with the Tehran Times and Mehr News Agency.
The situation is Ukraine “is the result of Russia’s action against Ukraine,” Stano noted.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Don’t you think that the Ukraine crisis is a result of tension between Russia and the West?
A: No, the reason for the Ukrainian crisis is not the tension between Russia and West. It is the result of Russia's actions against Ukraine since last year. Back then, in the run-up to the November summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius where Ukraine was expected to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine became subject of intense pressure from Russia both politically and economically. Since then we were and are witnessing economic coercion, threats and a covert action to instigate protests and instability, which are meant to dissuade the Ukrainian people from taking up new opportunities. This also resulted in the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in clear breach of international law and Helsinki Final Act (which guarantees borders in Europe). (EU's Enlargement) Commissioner (Stefan) Fule said that as a consequence of this we are facing the most serious crisis in Europe since the end of the World War II.
Q: Why the EU and U.S. want to remain Ukraine’s first partners? And what are the EU’s interests in Ukraine?
A: Ukraine has repeatedly declared its European aspirations and the will to get as close to the EU as possible. We responded to this wish by offering it an agreement that would enable the political association and economic integration, that means we would jointly subscribe to shared values and principles (of democracy, rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms) and to free trade area. This agreement is called Association Agreement. For this agreement and opportunities it offers Ukrainian people went into the streets last November in their thousands.
This agreement is not about creating new dividing lines; it is not a zero-sum game at someone else's expense, it creates opportunities. Not only for Ukraine but also for its neighbors including Russia although Russia refuses to accept it and still uses the zero-sum logic in this context. Our relations with Ukraine do not go at the expense of Ukraine's traditional ties with Russia, we were encouraging strengthening those ties as well and were ready to discuss with Russia all of this, all the misperception and concerns they had in relation to this Agreement. Unfortunately Russia never responded to such offers.
Q: What are the best ways to end the Ukrainian crises?
A: The EU's overall goal is to bring a solution to the crisis in Ukraine based on the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine including the right of Ukraine to decide on its own constitution and political future, as well as strict adherence to international standards. And in this we are supporting Ukraine both politically and economically.
Q: Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, wants Kiev to join NATO. What will be the consequences if this happens?
A: It is not for the EU or for us in the European Commission to speculate on scenarios which are at this stage just hypothetical. What is clear is the fact that the EU is not prescribing Ukraine which alliances and organizations it has to join. We are promoting and defending the right of every nation to make its own free and sovereign choices about their orientation and direction.
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