Read the original text at 112.ua.
Ukraine’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs (2012-2014) Leonid Kozhara, who held this post during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, became the first witness for the defense side in the case of the former president's state treason, questioned in the Obolonsky court. The interrogation was held on March 6. Kozhara alternately answered the lawyers’ and prosecutors’ questions. The main points of the minister's speech, you can find out in our article.
On the non-signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
When Ukraine was on the finish line in preparation for the Vilnius summit, none of the sides (I believe, the EU was not ready for signing too) were not ready to sign and implement this agreement. This is also confirmed by the fact that even the hasty signing of this agreement by the current authorities led first to the creation of a “test” free trade: we know that during 2014, the agreement still worked unofficially before entering into force in the test regime, before the collapse of Ukraine's foreign trade. We know that by the results of 2014, foreign trade declined by 50%; trade with the EU dropped by 25%. As a professional diplomat, I might conclude that given the principles of foreign policy that I spoke about, Free Trade Agreement became a benefit and a reliable instrument for implementing foreign policy only when Ukraine became a bridge between the major political and economic entities of the Eurasian continent. When Ukraine began to perform the role of the abyss, the effectiveness of the Association Agreement has declined. The economic consequences of it we see today.
On the direct Association with the EU
For Ukraine, the Association is a process of decades, a process of independent Ukraine since the decision of the Verkhovna Rada, made in 1993, where Ukraine outlined a foreign policy course for rapprochement with the EU (which was not called the EU at that time). Throughout the time, many Ukrainian governments and presidents have tried to improve these relations. When we reached the Association Agreement, it was a lengthy process. Ukraine and the governments that participated in the preparation of this document were constantly trying to improve the conditions and its political part, as well as of economic one. Because the difference between European and Ukrainian economy is huge; it is like a button and a suit, and it does not really matter to the European economy. Therefore, for at least two years, tense negotiations continued. When it became clear that the FTA with the EU comes into conflict with other Ukraine’s FTAs, we began to submit proposals to the European Commission, our partners in the EU on the establishment of multilateral commissions to minimize the negative consequences of the FTA implementation. Unfortunately, the EU refused to create these mechanisms for political reasons. In my personal opinion, this is the fault and responsibility of the European Commission that they failed to punctually respond to the situation for internal political reasons.
On the suspension of the signing
The fact that Ukraine was not ready to sign the agreement at the Vilnius summit was officially notified to the European side in advance. There was a special order of the Chairman of the Government from November 21, 2013, on the eve of the Vilnius summit. If you analyze the statements from the European side, we will see that in the second half of November, representatives of the European Commission also said that they were not ready. The decision to sign at the Vilnius summit was made literally ten days before the Vilnius summit itself. Let us remind a statement of the president of the European Commission Barroso, who said that signing is possible if Ukraine fulfills certain political obligations (it was stated in the second half of November). Just as on the twentieth of November the Cabinet of Ministers was convened. The decision was made, the decree was signed by the Prime Minister Azarov. And this decision was officially presented to the ambassadors of the European Commission Tombinsky and US Ambassador Pyatt on Monday, November 25 or 26. Ukraine has carried out all the procedures. But immediately I felt a tremendous pressure from our European partners, especially on the eve of the summit.
On Yanukovych and the political crisis settlement
Yanukovych has actually accepted the scenarios proposed by the European mediators, and factually adopted the scheme of the Agreement (on the settlement of the political crisis, signed by Yanukovych and the opposition leaders in February 2014 - Ed.), proposed by European part. This Agreement is available online. This is the plan that the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland proposed. I have conducted a lot of calls already after signing, the ministers have been constantly stressing that the EU supported the implementation of this agreement... I believe that the full and unconditional implementation of the Agreement could remove the crisis situation not only within the country but Ukraine’s crisis situation at the international level.
On the situation in the president’s administration after Yanukovych’s flight from Kyiv
I called the first reception desk for special communication at about 6:00 pm and the first receptionist informed me: "We have a problem because the guards have been completely removed, we are surrounded by the unknown people." Then I called again, I could not reach Viktor Yanukovych via government communication. I called the first reception office at 7:30 pm on the 21st (of February, - Ed.) in order to arrange a direct telephone contact with Viktor Yanukovych. There was no answer - the first reception of the head of state was not working anymore... The first reception desk did not work for some unknown reasons. As far as I remember, this was the first similar situation since 1992, when I started working for the Presidential Administration. There was no connection. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not blocked, I could get to the Foreign Ministry (although it was problematic), perform my duties until my removal from office on the 23rd (February - Ed.).
On the threat to Yanukovych’s life
“Do you know anything about the threats to Yanukovych’s life?”
“I know nothing about this.”
On the attitude of the Crimeans to Euromaidan
This is my personal opinion, but for many years I have been a People's Deputy of Ukraine and Minister of Foreign Affairs... in 2013, I have visited Crimea for several times, I have communicated with people. I kept in touch with the government of Crimea, in particular, with Mohyliov. I received information that the population of Crimea has strongly opposed most of the events in Kyiv in late 2013 and early 2014.
On the blockade of Crimea
The return of territories does not happen after their conscious and consistent separation. The more the current government establishes restrictive measures, the more we distance from the lost territories.
On his last meeting with Yanukovych
The last time I communicated with Yanukovych via the means of government communication was on February 21 from 17:00 to 18:30. This was the last time I have talked to him. I did not ask Yanukovych about the place of his residence. I have initiated this call, actually, I have called him back, because that evening I was negotiating with ministers Steinmeier and Sikorski. I have informed the president o the position of these two countries and the EU regarding the agreement signed on the 21st between the authorities and the opposition. The two EU countries, like the EU in general, proceed from the need to fully implement the agreement.