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Kaljulaid: Situations in Ukraine, Georgia should be called what they are

President Kersti Kaljulaid visiting the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine in May 2018.
President Kersti Kaljulaid visiting the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine in May 2018. Source: Tarmo Maiberg/ERR

When talking about Ukraine and Georgia, it is very important that things are called by the right names — a war is a war, and an occupation is an occupation, President Kersti Kaljulaid said at the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn on Friday.

In her speech, Kaljulaid referred to the fact that when talking about Georgia and Ukraine internationally, euphemisms including "administrative boundary line" and "frozen conflict" are used, instead of calling things by the right names, spokespeople for the president said.

"A rule-based, democratic, liberal world order can only survive when we stop pretending as though we are not under pressure from those who believe that the interests of the powerful are much more important than the freedom of nations and people," Kaljulaid said, adding that there are countries that are growing in their capacity to limit the space for freedom of their own citizens and others. "The least we can do is to be open among our partners and allies regarding how much more closer to the cliff's edge we are compared to the beginning of this century."

According to the Estonian president, regardless of what one thinks of how Ukraine is being run, its people are free. "This is a huge advantage to have," she said. "You can build an economy on it; you can build a country based on the rule of law on it. All is not lost if people can be angry with their political leaders without fear of repressions."

Experts: Improvement of Russia-West relations stalemated behind Ukraine conflict

According to experts participating in a panel held under the Chatham House Rule, the improvement of the relationship between Russia and the West is stalemated behind solving the conflict in Ukraine.

"The relationship between Russia and the West is going to remain in a stalemate until we devise some sort of a solution for the Donbass and Ukraine," said one participant. According to them, the conflict can be solved and the basic principles of the Minsk agreements are implementable.

Another expert said that when seeking to improve Russia's relationship with the West, President Vladimir Putin should begin in places like Ukraine and Syria. "There have been constant efforts made by U.S. presidents to engage Russia, but despite this, Moscow's assertiveness has grown," they added.

According to a third participant, Russia has a positive dialogue with the rest of the world, but the relations with the West are stalemated. "Ukraine is central here," they pointed out. "Most experts I am working with say that we can only hope to resolve the stalemate regarding Ukraine through some peacekeeping effort."

They added that the Minsk agreements are a compromise that can be implemented in case of political will, but all sides involved are currently playing the waiting game, believing that their positions will improve in time.

According to a fourth participant, the Minsk agreements are not implementable as they are tilted in Russia's favor. "No Ukrainian government can implement these without being swept away," the panelist added.

One of the panelists said that Putin's main goal was to change Ukraine's direction of movement against the will of the Ukrainian people and integrate it into the Eurasian Economic Union, but noted that the Russian president has failed miserably in doing so.

They added that the conflict can be solved, not with a peacekeeping mission, "but with a proper international administration for a couple of years."

According to an expert, the EU keeps saying that it is offering a win-win solution, but stronger and stronger voices in the West are saying that Putin should not be offered any wins.

Another panelist said that Putin's priority is to keep Russia in one piece and elevate it to the level of a great power, and while this cannot be done with a weak economy, the most important thing for Putin in Russia is not the economy, but political stability.

The Lennart Meri Conference is organised by the International Center for Defence and Security (ICDS) along with the Lennart Meri Foundation, with support from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NATO, BAE Systems, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Hanwha and Nammo.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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