The author of the “plan” is the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, Martin Sajdik.
In an interview with the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung, he spoke about his idea in detail, calling the Minsk agreements “vague.” Especially regarding the holding local elections on the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas.
Taking part in the Inter-faction Association "Minsk Platform" in the Verkhovna Rada for years now, I personally talked to Mr. Sajdik. Therefore, such activity of his is similar to writing an essay on a free topic. As he has no corresponding mandate either from the OSCE or from the Normandy format. The suggestions he made, to put it mildly, also look rather ambiguous.
Let us take a look at the key points of the “Sajdik's plan” and what lies behind it all.
Special representative to Donbas?
According to the proposed plan, the UN and OSCE have to act not in parallel, but together under a general guidance headed by the so-called special representative: it concerns both military and police component of the UN, and OSCE Monitoring Mission, which is already operating in the regions.
The cooperation between the UN and OSCE is rather close. For instance, the UN Temporary Mission to Kosovo to implement mandate has brought together four “elements” first. Two of them – under a direct authority of the UN, one – under the EU’s guidance, and the component “Democracy and institutional building” is led by the OSCE. Such pattern is possible as it was quite successful in the Balkans.
"To implement the central element - holding of the local elections - external assistance is required. We have concluded that this can only be the UN," the special representative emphasized.
It is necessary to understand the key point: elections on the occupied territories can only be held when they are controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, and the whole procedure is carried out in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. It is about restoring the legitimate Ukrainian authorities on the ground. Only this can be a prerequisite for holding the elections and not the presence of the UN peacekeeping forces there. And it goes without saying that up to that point all the Russian military must leave our territory.
The most favourable for stabilizing the situation and maintaining peace in a post-conflict environment is holding elections three years after the ceasefire. Now we see that the fighting in the Donbas continues and there is no peace there. Therefore, talking about holding the local elections in such circumstances is inappropriate.
In addition, given the nature of the problems, UN peacekeepers are often invited to participate in events that, in fact, are in the category of establishing peace. In particular, in connection with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, or demining, security sector reform and other law enforcement activities.
The very idea of introducing peacekeeping forces in Donbas is not new. The Ukrainian side declared such a need from the UN tribune, but Russia is blocking this decision with all its might.
One more organization
The plan includes creating the European Training Foundation in Donbas similar to the one they used to have on the Balkans.
Actually, the foundation appeared to be a very effective one. It had lasted for eight years (from 2000 till 2008). During this comparatively short period, the organization proved that the delegation of authorities, resources and skills to the one foundation can highly improve the quality of international aid.
However, the negative sides of the Training foundation are the work on many fronts and the mobilization of the resources in such a way, when the quality prevailed over quantity.
Taking into account the whole scale of the Ukrainian conflict and the problems that have to solve, some doubts may appear that one foundation is able to control everything properly and to maintain independence from the aggressor.
Price of doing business
The most paradoxical Sajdik’s proposition is the ratification of the peace plan by the heads of countries of the Normandy format – Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, as well as the parliamentarian approval.
In this case, I agree with many Ukrainian politicians that such an idea is far from being a diplomatic one.
First of all, only the head of state, the parliament and people’s representatives have the right to propose legislative initiatives into voting. If we are talking about the ratification of some documents, the president and the parliament pass them to the Verkhovna Rada. It is far from being in powers of the foreign authorities.
Second of all, while there is a war on Donbas, while the enemy holds our prisoners of war, while the people die, how can we talk about “mutual signing” of the document by both Ukrainian and Russian parliaments.
Ukraine is an independent state, so it does not need voting among other states concerning the domestic policy and protection of sovereignty.
Without regaining Crimea and Donbas we will not even think about “friendly relationship” with the Russian Federation.
The key moment in this “ratification” situation is the price of doing business and the collateral arrangements, without which there is no other way to deal with such important issues.
All the legislative process depend fully on the decision of the president of Russia. Of course, we should not rule out the slight chance of signing of a “new plan”. The negotiations between the Russian Federation and the European countries are taking place these days. Nord Stream 2, Syria, Israel and the Azov crisis are all the conflict zones between the Russian Federation and the European countries, which have to be solved.
So it is still possible that the subject of such negotiations once will be the Donbas returning question. And the Russian Federation will act as usual.
That is why Ukraine should be ready for the new political fight for regaining its sovereignty. The price of doing business for our country – the future of more than four million Ukrainians, who live on the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas.
Amnesty and legitimization of militants
A new “comprehensive agreement” also provides amnesty and involvement of the representatives of occupation regime to local authorities.
It is obvious that the successful demobilization and disarmament of the members of the armed formations are impossible without amnesty. As they will not lay down their arms under the threat.
However, the amnesty is impossible in the hot stage of the conflict. It can be a tool of the reconciliation and reintegration but not a way to avoid liability and fair trial over the criminals.
Particularly, the amnesty should be imposed in parallel with the investigations and prosecution of people, who bear the main responsibility for the military crimes, terrorism and gross violations of human rights.
Besides, the particular conditions for its provision should be spelt out in the law on amnesty for Donbas. They are the voluntary disarmament, readiness to testify and cooperate with the investigation.
Moreover, the individual investigation against each person, each collaborator should precede the amnesty to define the possibility to impose the amnesty toward them.
And the most important is that the procedure should take place in the accordance with the national legislation and international and legal commitments of Ukraine, be adopted by the parliament and not be defined by the foreign special representatives.
Today, the amnesty issue is not supported by society, it should be carefully studied, and the decision should be made considerably.
The participation of the militants in the talks has no alternative as they are participating in the Minks Talks for a long time and control (even with support of Russia) Donbas territories uncontrolled by Kyiv.
Their participation is necessary for Russia, which distances itself from the conflict in such a way. This issue stands out sharply in the context of the prisoners’ exchange. It is not likely that we should expect the exclusion of occupied Donbas representatives from the fulfilment of a new format of the conflict settlement. In the result, we have the same “Minsk” but in another wrapper.
Therefore, Mr. Sajdik personally and his OSCE colleagues should better concentrate on their direct and professional responsibilities. Particularly, they should do at least something for the release of the Ukrainian hostages from the terrorists’ detention. It would be a real help to real people.
Moreover, we would like to hear a clear position of the special representative on the aggressive actions of Russia in Donbas, while it looks like an attempt to straddle both worlds.