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Integration of the regions or construction of «high fences»? Ukraine chooses...

What does the reintegration of the Donbas mean? Has it already started or is it required to do some things to trigger it? What should it be like and what is its goal? Maybe, it is not needed at all, is it?
The research of the Kalmius Group demonstrated that there are Ukrainians who do not understand the meaning of the term «reintegration» as well as its content in the context of the law recently passed and aimed at the restoration of sovereignty on the temporarily occupied territory of the Donbas.

«The participants of the group research, as a rule, could not explain what the term means in the context of the state policy with respect to the occupied territory; the extreme form of misunderstanding of the term was the assumption that reintegration means total separation of the occupied part of the Donbas from Ukraine. A number of participants did not know anything about the enactment of the law and the meaning of the terms contained in it», says Oleksiy Matsuka, editor-in-chief of News of Donbas site and a member of the Kalmius Group.

The question whether Ukrainian politicians know how to implement the reintegration of the war-torn region remains open. From time to time discussions on the issue are held in Verkhovna Rada; however, parliamentary hearings have not been held. News of Donbas has collected fresh ideas and statements by politicians, journalists, public activists, officials, and experts on the ways of Donbas reintegration how they see it.

Volodymyr Lupatsy, expert of the Single Focal Point, calls Ukraine «a country with high fences» that hinder interregional  integration.

«Reintegration is like air. This is what should happen every day and what should not come down to some sectoral policy. In other words, today integration should become a component of national security», the expert believes.

According to Lupatsy, the country should have a concept which will answer the question how to achieve «national unity, social consolidation, and interregional integration.

Vadym Denysenko, member of Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legal Policy and Justice, thinks that it is wrong that in today's Ukraine state research institutions do not study Russia. So far it has been studied semi-professionally, says the expert. That is one of the reasons why it is difficult for Ukraine to assess the situation on the uncontrolled territory of the Donbas.

He himself sees the situation as follows: 

«In fact, in today's Russian Federation there is no institution or a group of people who determines the policy with respect to Ukraine. That may sound paradoxically, but at the moment we can say that the person who is directly  responsible for the talks between Ukraine and Russia, Vladislav Surkov is almost «a downed pilot» de-facto. De-facto, he is not likely to be considered by Russian leaders as the person who determines what to do with Ukraine...

«It seems to me that at present it is impossible to speak either about peace keepers or any ways of reconciliation with the Russian Federation. The discussions about the Donbas and about peace keepers are nothing more than entourage. In the Russian Federation, nobody is going to speak seriously about stages of reconciliation. At least, before the presidential election. At the same time it is evident that there will not be any serious military aggravation of the situation before the presidential election in Ukraine...

Will there be attempts to influence the presidential election? Yes, for certain. Nobody is doubtful about that. However, it is evident that pinpoint attempts to escalate certain conflicts will take place in certain regions. Each region has its own specific features. Certain conflicts may develop in them. For instance, they talk a lot about a religious conflict with Moscow Patriarchate in the Zaporizhzha region. It is evident that there will be serious conflicts with Ukrainian nationalistic organizations».

Speaking about the Donbas reintegration, the same way as Lupatsy, Yusuf Kurkchi, first deputy minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs, mentioned that during the years of independent Ukraine the internal policy of Ukraine has not been established.

«All regional issues were left to the discretion of regional elites. This or that way, the elites moulded their regions and their electorate in the context of their political desires and opportunities», the deputy minister thinks. 

Speaking about the integration policy in Ukraine, Kurkchi noticed that it is a complex task which comprises economic, social, cultural, political integration and the integration connected with the issues of security.

He also mentioned that there is no scientific interest in the theme of the Donbas and the Crimea. He also stressed that efforts of only one ministry are not enough for the implementation of the key issues of reintegration.

Emine Dzhafarova, first deputy minister of Information Policy agrees with the statement about the key role of humans, not territories in the process of the Donbas reintegration. The official claims that it happens that the rhetoric of Ukrainian MM with respect to the population of the annexed Crimea and the uncontrolled Donbas is not always clearly articulated. She called it «rather clumsy and without a system».

«In fact, we, in our communication campaigns, are hostages of the absence of particular political decisions concerning the reintegration. That is complicated by the fact that we don't control the territories», Dzhaparova added.

Maria Zolkina, political analyst of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation sees the lack of quality communication between the society and the leaders of the country concerning the future of the Donbas and the ways of resolving the conflict in the east of Ukraine.

«We have a rather stable negative attitude to potential compromises that are being discussed within the framework of the Minsk process. For instance, the idea of the election on the terms of Russia is not accepted as well as the idea of the specific status of the territory, alteration of the Constitution, and the status of the Russian language. The idea of Ukraine's possible refusal from its Euro Atlantic aspiration is not accepted. So far these issues are not present in Minsk. However, in the public opinion, for sure, there is understanding that these things are connected. Maybe, the question will arise.

These issues are not perceived, but, at the same time, for three years, in our country every second Ukrainian has thought that peace is to be achieved with the help of compromises. Here I see a problem: on the one hand, we are not ready for the main compromises; on the other hand, there is a demand for such compromises. I think the problem is with communication», Zolkina said on the basis of the results of the Kalmius Group research.

General director of Interfax-Ukraine agency Oleksandr Martynenko warns that the possibility of secure reintegration of the Donbas is decreasing with every passing year.

«We should be realistic as people, and political structures, and civil structures are getting used to work in this mode — Ukraine without the certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and these certain are without Ukraine. That is bad, of course, but that is the reality. People are getting used to the situation that they cannot change since they have to get used and to survive», said Martynenko.

He also said that a lot of politicians in the country, despite their ultra patriotic rhetoric, do not see the whole Donbas as part of Ukraine.

«I will tell you more, even those who are responsible for reforms and their promotion in Ukraine are very careful about the prospects of returning the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as there are very few people who can provide public support. It happened that people there do not support liberal market reforms which are being held in Ukraine though not very consistently. That is why, I believe, there are a lot of political problems in today's Ukraine which we cannot solve. However, the opportunities will appear in 2019 after the presidential election because it is a single process… The opportunity will appear at the end of 2019. Thus, 2019 will be absolutely critical for Ukraine, in general, and for the conflict, in particular. That will be the year when «the red line» will be determined, the line which Ukraine will not be able to cross. So far «the lines» have been determined either by the executive power or by Verkhovna Rada. However, after the elections, I believe, it will be necessary to determine new «red lines», and they will be determined by the voters' mandate. Newly elected political forces will make decisions on the basis of the mandate given by voters during the election campaign», Martynenko thinks.

Roman Bessmertny, extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Ukraine insists that in order to solve the conflict in the Donbas, we should speak up. He offers to establish communication between Kyiv and the uncontrolled Donetsk and Luhansk.

«First in closed mode, then openly», the politician thinks.

Bessmertny does not exclude the opportunity for the church to establish the dialogue.

«I beg you, let us abandon this hellish idea of blitzkrieg which leads to discussions of the so-called military actions on the occupies territory in today's conditions. The decision should be political. We are not against the military decision of the problem. Isn't it clear that some framework should be adopted and all other processes should be launched within this framework. Then it will be understood what we are doing», Bessmertny added.


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