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Canadian case: Why is Ukraine at epicenter of an international scandal again?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

On the sidelines of the United Nations, they say that Ukraine did not give its vote to help Canada become the non-permanent member of the UN Security Council
23:28, 25 June 2020

Another scandal on international stage
112 Agency

Against the background of other scandals, Ukraine got into another one. This time, it has an international flavor. It is quite possible that our state did not support its long-standing and loyal ally, which is often called “the best version of Ukraine that emigrants could build.” We are talking about Canada and about one event within the United Nations.

The UN “played out” (primitively speaking) the position of a non-permanent member of the Security Council of this organization. In total, the Security Council consists of 15 member states - 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members. The permanent ones are the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United States, and France, and the non-permanent ones are elected for two years (five of them rotate annually).

This time, Canada, Djibouti, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, and Norway were among the candidates. Canada lost the election, and, according to media reports, it happened with Ukraine's participation. Our state did not give its vote. At least they say so on the sidelines as the vote was secret.

But the problem is not even whether Ukraine voted for Canada or not. The problem is how the authorities behaved after this vote. And they behaved as usual, which is stupid.

Word to our president

Canadians are hurt by Ukraine's participation or non-participation in the Security Council elections. No wonder the journalists of the local newspaper The Globe and Mail asked President Volodymyr Zelensky directly: Did Ukraine vote for Canada or not? Zelensky began to evade the question: “I know this information, but I can't disclose it because it's confidential information,” he said.

The president also did not answer questions about rumors that Ukraine had promised its votes to Norway and Ireland before Canada launched its campaign.

“Ukraine has always supported and will continue to support Canada. I know that Canada really wanted to be elected and to be in the UN Security Council. Well, this time it did not happen, but it is important for Canada and important for Ukraine because Canada's success is the success of Ukraine,” Zelensky said, not noticing that the more he dives into this topic, the more absurd he sounds.

“I understand that Canada really wanted to get in the UN Security Council. And I, as they say, kept my fingers crossed,” the president assured. He added that “all candidates without exception, including Canada, which fought for this non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, are all our partners and really deserve to be in the UN Security Council.”

Zelensky's statement that “there are many platforms in the world where everyone listens to the opinion of this country” was a completely inappropriate shot in the head of Canada. It is like he was saying that you were unlucky with the UN so try to go somewhere else and we will hold our fingers crossed again for you.

To end this story, we will add that for above-mentioned Norway and Ireland, the vote was successful. They became non-permanent members of the Security Council. As for Canada, it apparently did not hear the words it hoped to hear, and which it certainly deserved.

Mistake or a bet?

112.ua interviewed four experts about why Ukraine did not give its vote to Canada (after all, it is obvious from the twists and turns of our guarantor that it did not). Opinions divided. Two of our interlocutors pointed out that the “Canadian case” is just a shortcoming of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN, and two more are convinced that it was a matter of Ukraine's support for other states.

“They just messed up,” said Vadym Karasyov, director of the Institute for Global Strategies. “Canada was the first country to recognize our independence. That is, we have certain moral obligations to it. There is a banal failure of the “young team,” which includes people, who have played before the second and third roles, and who are unprofessional and incompetent. They have missed this gesture of diplomatic support, but I do not see any “malicious intent” here, nor do I see a bow to Russia, which in general does not care about Canada's temporary participation in the UN Security Council.”

Andriy Zolotaryov, the head of the Third Sector Center, agrees with him: “Do you remember what Pelevin said? "Everyone thinks that the world is ruled by a secret lodge, when in fact the world is ruled by utter rubbish." It is the same here because in fact nothing that indicates worsening of Ukrainian-Canadian relations, so this case should be attributed to the unprofessionalism and irresponsibility of the ruling team,” the expert said.

Political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov urges not to dramatize the situation: “Canada will remain our strategic partner, and I do not see a particular problem here. And even if Ukraine did not give Canada its vote, then, perhaps, another matter is involved here - our obligations before Norway. So, there were some preliminary agreements before the vote. It is practiced, and quite often,” he said.

Sazonov also reminded about the well-known principle of the British prime ministers, which is that the country has neither eternal friends nor eternal enemies, but only eternal interests.

“Ukraine's positioning on the international arena,” - he notes, “depends not only on its desires but also on the interests of other partners. It has always been so, is and will be so, because everyone promotes their own interests. Germany declares its support for us, but nevertheless, it is building Nord Stream 2, and Steinmeier insists on his formula, which had proved very bad for Georgia. Foreign policy must be built on the interests of ourselves and others and not on ideals and eternal friendship.”

Bohdan Petrenko, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Research of Extremism, also points out that in the UN “there were agreements with other countries, with Norway in particular. Firstly, and secondly, Canada did not have a majority anyway, and, accordingly, the Ukrainian vote did not decide anything here. But in any case, Ukraine had to justify its position before the vote, and not after. Because all the explanations made after seem too much as an excuse.”

Petrenko is right: Volodymyr Zelensky's monologues looked not only unconvincing but also pathetic. He never communicated his position to his Canadian interlocutors except, of course, for the assurances of friendship and partnership that flowed out of the president.

Meanwhile, “We have perhaps the best relationship with Canada. And it is because, if I'm not mistaken, 4% of the population there are Ukrainians and because it's our main ally, and, importantly, an equal ally. I'm not I'm talking now about the United States, which, let's be honest, often puts pressure on us. As for Canada, we don't feel Canadian pressure, but we do feel Canadian support,” Petrenko said.

Staff shortage again?

Of course, one should not assume that all this support evaporates in an instant due to just one vote in the UN. But the taste of indifference instead of active action and demagoguery instead of open conversation will remain. For all this, President Zelensky should thank his own team, which on his behalf and on behalf of the state of Ukraine acts on international platforms.

It is difficult to say whether the whole “international” team of Zelensky is bad or good. The problem here is different. We have only 10% of people at the top of any power structure who got there because they really deserved it. And they are often in secondary roles. Only two mechanisms activate our social elevators,” Petrenko states.

"The first of these mechanisms is nepotism," he says. It is when the children of diplomats become diplomats themselves, often not because of knowledge and skills, but using connections. And the second mechanism is an adaptation, which is also a huge problem. When a person himself or herself is slippery and “walks between the drops,” defending the interest of a certain political group that puts him or her in this chair. Under such conditions, he or she will not serve the national interests zealously,” Petrenko said.

And yet, as Andriy Zolotaryov adds, if we talk specifically about the international direction, the problem of the team's weakness was laid even under Poroshenko. It was the previous president who pulled the blanket on himself, ringing all external contacts on Bankova Street. On the one hand, this is his direct duty (in particular, in accordance with the Constitution), but on the other hand, the long absence of practice has influenced the competence of those officials who are responsible for Ukraine's positioning in the world.

“Under Poroshenko, we did not have a Foreign Minister. He performed these functions himself. Petro Poroshenko personally blocked the sphere of foreign relations, and no one will remember who served as his minister. Now it is the same: the Presidential Administration works on the international arena, and this is Zelensky's shortcoming, because there are no professional diplomats among his people, except for Bohdan Yaremenko. In fact, the president himself acknowledged the lack of professionalism and experienced staff a long time ago,” Zolotaryov said.

The solution for Ze-team, in his opinion, could be to involve professional staff from other parties. “Responsibility should have been shared with other political forces from the very beginning and not only in the field of foreign relations. For example, I believe that Oleksiy Kucherenko is much better versed in utility issues than the well-known Mykola Tyshchenko. But, unfortunately, the principle of closeness instead of professionalism, works better here. And it, naturally, narrows possibilities,” the expert says.

Vadym Karasyov has the same opinion: "The president's team should be strengthened by people with experience: Konstantyn Hryshchenko, Oleksandr Chaly, Oleh Shamshur, whom Zelensky dismissed from the position of Ambassador to France and replaced by his PR manager Vadym Omelchenko, who has no relation to the diplomatic bodies at all. This is Yermak's diplomacy and a situation when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not headed by the relevant minister, but by the head of the Office of the President…"

Meanwhile, Sazonov calls another person who could be useful to the current government. This is in addition to the current head of the Foreign Ministry, about whom the political scientist speaks positively. “Kuleba is a professional Foreign Minister. He is pro-Ukrainian and tough. It would be worth strengthening the Parliamentary Committee because Yaremenko alone with his pro-Ukrainian position is not enough, Nemyria could be involved too. Although he is not from the Batkivshchyna coalition but is a professional with huge connections,” Sazonov believes.

But sharing power is not always easy. However, those who seek absolute power, receive a bonus and absolute rights to all “epic failures.” So we can complain to no one.

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