American journalist, author and host of CNN Fareed Zakaria spoke to the 112 TV Channel's Elina Beketova on the sidelines of the YES meeting that took place in Kyiv on September 15. He speaks of the position of the Ukrainian issue in the West and the most popular topics for discussion connected with Ukraine.
The series of interviews 112 International Insight introduces the viewpoint of influential Western experts, who are the source of a new, fresh point of view, different from the one of the Ukrainian experts, who usually comment on the current situation.
'Of course there was a period when Ukraine was at the top of the news. This is of course when Russia annexed Crimea and the activities in Eastern Ukraine really began. For a few months there was a great deal of interest in Ukraine all over the world and in the United States in particular. What is happen now? I would call it Ukraine fatigue. People have moved on, the have lost interest but I would say there is still strong support in the United States for Ukraine. It is not at the top of American's minds but I think Americans feel very strongly that Ukraine should be supported. So if you look at America today as you know republicans and democrats are very divided, they do not agree on anything but they agree on Ukraine'.
Fareed Zakaria also revealed the way he gives coverage to the issues of Ukraine.
'I cover all international affairs for CNN and my show is the main show on international affairs. So we have done many-many shows on Ukraine. We have had President Poroshenko on. We have had Mister Putin on. I think that our focus now is the degree to which Putin is trying to continue this hybrid war, this clever kind of war that does not look like a war in Ukraine and what that means'.
The American journalist thinks that it is possible to overcome Russian aggression and speaks on the topics that can strengthen Ukraine.
'That is why I call it a hybrid war because it is very clever in that the Russians deny. They say these are locally Ukrainian forces or sometimes they say these are patriotic Russian citizens or sometimes they say these are Russian soldiers but they are on vacation. Of course we know the reality but my point is it becomes harder to do something about because it is done in this ambiguous way and this hidden way. I think at the end of the day the most important thing that President Putin understands is strength, is resolve. If you push back I think he will understand. And as long as the sanctions stay in place and the West stays united and the most important thing is as long Ukraine keeps the reforming and succeeding then it becomes easier to support it. If Ukraine becomes divided, more corrupt and the reform process fails then Europeans will get scared of embracing Ukraine, Americans get scared of embracing Ukraine. But as long as you stay tough and you continue on the reform path and democratic path I think you will find there will be more and more support'.
Also, he revealed the most popular issue concerning Ukraine in the US.
Probably it is Russia and Putin and the degree to which Ukraine shows that Putin is really an enemy of the West. In a sense Ukraine is lucky in that while interest in Ukraine goes down and interest in Putin stays very strong and most Americans, perhaps except our president, are very toughly opposed to Putin. President Trump does not have as much ability to change that policy because Congress is very strongly supportive over tough policy on Russia and the American people want the tough policy on Russia. So even President Trump does seem to have his own peculiar views on this it does not make much difference. American policy has been very tough.
At the end of the interview Fareed Zakaria gave some recommendations to Ukrainian politicians and the Ukrainians.
'I think I understand Ukraine reasonably well. The point I would convey to them is I know that it sometime seems that this is not the right time to do reforms. You have an election coming up, land reform is unpopular, put-in an anti-corruption court is complicated. It is all true but think about the long run, think about history. What history will remember? It will all go away very soon, we only have one life to live but Ukrainian politicians should think about this. What do they want history remember them for? So, do the reforms now, do them fast, do them thoroughly. Do not worry about the politics; you never know how things are going to work out politically. I know there are a lot of politicians, not just in Ukraine everywhere in the world they are very hesitant, they are very reluctant. No, we will not do the hard things now, we will do it tomorrow. But the tomorrow never comes. So I say do it today, pay the price, probably there will not be that big price to pay. And most importantly you will be remembered well in history'.
Yalta European Strategy (YES) was founded by businessmen Viktor Pinchuk in 2004 and usually took place in the Livadia Palace in Yalta but after the annexation of Crimea, it was relocated to the capital of Ukraine. Opening of the 14th Yalta meeting took place at the Besarabsky Market in the downtown of Kyiv for the first time. YES meetings have brought together heads of state and government such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton, Dalia Grybauskaitė, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Bronisław Komorowski, Mario Monti, Shimon Peres and Donald Trump. This year the partakers of the forum have concentrated on such global issues as the shifts in the geopolitical allocation of forces and changes in the global economy.