ASTANA, Kazakhstan - Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, an Italian diplomat who served as NATO deputy secretary general from 2001 to 2007, says the international community should help Ukraine become a stable country.
“We should all help Ukraine become a stable and organized country,” Minuto-Rizzo said on the sidelines of an international media forum in Astana, Kazakhstan in late April, in which the crisis in Ukraine was the main topic.
Minuto-Rizzo, who spoke to the Tehran Times before Ukrainians elected Petro Poroshenko as their president on May 25, also said, “There has to be respect for the independence of Ukraine.”
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Mr. Minuto-Rizzo, what should be done to resolve the crisis in Ukraine?
A: I have a very, very easy answer for that. It is through negotiations and through compromise. It is the only way to solve the crisis. What has to be avoided is the use of force. That is the red line, and you have to avoid changing the borders.
Q: Some blame both the West and Russia for the crisis in Ukraine. What is your idea?
A: I don’t think it is a good assessment. I think the most important thing is that Ukraine is a new country, it’s not yet stabilized, it has to find its own equilibrium. But the Ukrainian people have to be left alone to find their best interest. I don’t think there should be any interference, either by Russia or by others.
Q: There is a view that pro-Western Ukrainians try to isolate the pro-Russians when they are in power and vice versa. What is your analysis?
A: This is a part of the world where emotions are very high because of history, because every side doesn’t trust the other because of the past, because of the wars… etc. I think that this has to change, as I said before, and there has to be respect for the independence of Ukraine, its territorial integrity. At the same time, I feel the Russian-speaking people should be allowed to have their own language and their own way of life. I think the two things can go together. You know in my country, which is Italy, we have a province where German is the first language and Italian is the second, but this has never been an issue, we can live with that. You just have to get accustomed to this way of life.
Q: Henry Kissinger says Ukraine should not be invited to join NATO. What is your idea?
A: Well, I think Kissinger is right in a way. I don’t think Ukraine should be asked to join NATO, but it is up to Ukrainians themselves to decide if it is good or bad for them. So far, Ukraine has never been asked to be part of NATO. As far as I know, Ukraine is associated with NATO through the Partnership for Peace, but not as a candidate for becoming a member of NATO. And I think this is a normal thing. I think it is for Ukrainians to decide if they want to be part of NATO or not. It is not for us to decide.
Q: Unfortunately some 80 people were killed during the protest against Yanukovich in Kiev in February. For me, it was astonishing since the Soviet Union peacefully broke up into 15 countries in 1991. So what has happened that after over 22 years such terrible actions happen?
A: It should have not occurred of course. But it is very difficult from the outside to give an honest judgment and to say who is right and who is wrong. I think these things are a little intertwined. Especially we should all help Ukraine become a stable and organized country. The real issue here is Ukraine has not grown up as a stable country… [as it] should have… after it became independent. This is the root of the problem.