Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
Ukraine has moved to 'top league' in terms of dialogue with EU
18.08.2020 11:27

Warsaw celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw in which the Polish army, with the support of its allies - the Ukrainian People's Army - defeated the Bolsheviks.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna attended the official ceremony. In a conversation with Ukrinform's correspondent, she spoke about the prospects for cooperation with Poland, including in the security sphere, the initiative of the Lublin Triangle, and Ukraine's possible involvement in settling the situation in Belarus.

Question: Olha Vitaliivna, you met with Head of the National Security Bureau of Poland Pawel Soloch during your visit to Warsaw. What was the focus of the meeting? What are further prospects for cooperation?

Answer: We discussed possible interaction in the context of combating hybrid threats. This was the leitmotif of our meeting, as Mr. Soloch pays great attention to this issue. Kyiv has already reaffirmed a high level of military cooperation with NATO not only through military exercises, but also through the provision of the world's largest aircraft to transport cargoes of the Alliance. This dialogue will expand and be filled with new opportunities as part of the partnership. In particular, the Ukrainian military and civilian personnel will be able to work as special officers in NATO agencies. However, Ukraine's truly unique role as a participant in the Enhanced Opportunities Program should be to organically structure Ukraine's experience in combating hybrid threats. This applies to information attacks, cybersecurity, data protection and exchange, countering hostile information campaigns, propaganda, and so on. In cooperation with the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, we want to build institutions that will summarize this experience and, accordingly, develop tools for resilience to these hybrid threats. I think Poland will be one of our main allies in gaining this experience and implementing it under the Enhanced Opportunities Program.

Question: Did you discuss the events in Belarus?

Answer: Yes, we did. I noted Poland's special role in initiating an active response to the events in Belarus not only by individual countries, but also by the EU. For my part, I believe that Ukraine can play an important role in the peaceful settlement of this confrontation and in ensuring fair and free elections in Belarus. In any case, Minsk is a strategic partner of Ukraine, and we are ready to make every effort to continue to do so.

There is also an understanding that Ukraine, Poland and NATO countries must work together to strengthen security in the Black Sea. We discussed this issue, as well as the steps we can take together to advance this understanding in NATO. As this is my personal priority in office, we discussed Ukraine's involvement in the NATO reflection process for the next ten years. I hope that Ukraine will take its rightful place in a new NATO strategy, and at least that will determine not only the strategy of the North Atlantic Alliance, but also the strategy of Ukraine for the next ten years.

Question: A few weeks ago, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania launched a new political initiative - the Lublin Triangle. What are the prospects for Ukraine's participation in this format? What does it open up for Ukraine?

Answer: This is a natural process. Such regional alliances will eventually be formed with other countries as well. Ukraine has moved to the "top league" in terms of dialogue with the EU. Our ambitions and opportunities are growing. Evidence of this is the launch of the Lublin Triangle initiative to which Ukraine is an equal party. Accordingly, we are talking not just about support, coordination of positions, but about building strategies on issues of common interest. We are talking about regional cooperation, including military cooperation, the promotion of European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. The fact that the Lublin Triangle was established at the level of foreign ministers is a sign of a high level of a common understanding of foreign policy challenges. Therefore, coordination will also be high here.

The more Ukraine grows economically and the more transformations take place inside Ukraine, the more ambitious and stronger our dialogue with partners will be. Such initiatives are evidence that Ukraine is becoming a full player on the international stage.

Question: Ukraine is actively discussing the question of whether it is expedient to continue to hold meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, given the recent events in Belarus and Minsk's unfriendly statements and actions against Kyiv.

Answer: The events are unfolding quite quickly. We have been closely monitoring the situation, including in the context of continuing negotiations in Minsk. A regular meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group is scheduled for August 18. Belarus has played a significant role in initiating and supporting the negotiation process. However, as I have already said, the situation is dynamic. On the one hand, the protesters who were detained earlier, including three Ukrainian citizens, have been released. At the same time, the decision was made to extradite mercenaries from the Wagner private military group to the Russian Federation, and all of this requires proper response measures from us.

Question: What are the priorities of Ukraine's relations with Poland? In what areas is it necessary to pay the most attention?

Answer: In general, the dynamics of Ukraine's relations with Poland are at a very high level. I would like to mention three priority areas. First, this is an interaction on Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO. There is a direct interest of the Polish side here, because European integration is, first of all, economic opportunities and trade.

Secondly, this is security cooperation and security in the Black Sea... Here our Euro-Atlantic direction is becoming increasingly important, given Russia's growing military presence, the expansion of illegal control over certain parts of the Azov and Black Seas.

Importantly, I am not tired of emphasizing the significant role of our diplomatic missions, including the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland, in disseminating truthful information about historical events, including those that took place a hundred years ago. The current celebrations on the occasion of the Battle of Warsaw are an important element in restoring historical justice and the truth about Ukraine's role in the history of Europe of which our country has long been a part.

Therefore, the restoration of historical memory is a very important process that is developing between Ukraine and Poland at a very high level.

Yuriy Banakhevych, Warsaw

Photos provided by the press service

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