Kuzheev: Today first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk is our guest. Good evening, Mr. Kravchuk. This year, Ukraine received a new agenda after two elections. How do you like this first pancake?
Kravchuk: All things could be perceived in comparison. The previous power has done so many bad things that we waited with hopes, even overstated, that in the end, it would be different. And when I analyzed the actions of the new government, I saw that the government wants to create a new life. For me it was decisive. Nevertheless, I continue to live in a world of hopes, I want to join so that those hopes are realized.
Yanukovych’s power was stopped due to the Maidan. Poroshenko did not become a president. Why couldn’t this be done in 2013-2015?
A very difficult question arose for the people: an unexpected turn in their expectations. Ukraine - especially the young and middle generation - has chosen a clear and understandable course for itself - the European choice. But it was - it was definitely going there. And suddenly the Cabinet of Ministers decides that Ukraine is abandoning the European course.
Now Ukraine is undergoing a “turbo” mode.
“Turbo” is only on the surface of power. The people do not follow this "turbo" mode. The people are wise, they know that this is impossible. The government wants to do everything faster. And there were a lot of brakes, and they deliberately slowed down. You listen to the current government, and it says: there is no law. I ask: why do not you want to adopt it? There are things that absolutely do not require time to process them. For example, transport. Freight transport in Europe around the city does not go around the capital for days, only at night. Money is not needed for this. In order to drive to the city center, you need to pay for it. Fine for violating traffic rules. Henry Ford said that the most difficult thing for a person is to think. And therefore he said: "I know so few people who think."
But how to explain that in three months, MPs of the Verkhovna Rada supported only 14% of government bills?
Some MPs do not know the consequences of their vote. They do not know how and why to vote like that. Therefore, some of them avoid voting without having the belief that this is correct.
“Rating” sociological group gives the following figures: the respondents surveyed say that President Zelensky needs one to three years to demonstrate a high-quality and effective work result. Almost two-thirds of respondents think so. 43% of respondents believe that reforms in the country should be gradual.
When it comes to reforms, one cannot rush here. Often it is about remaking life, changing forms of exposure, changing the quality of life. If in a hurry, then you can break firewood. Three years, or less? It all depends on the situation. If a team of like-minded people is quickly created, then the problems of state life will be quickly resolved. If you spend time creating a monolithic team, then there will not be enough time to transform life for the better.
Reforms mean getting better.
The only way to evaluate reform experiences, not just science fiction. The experience could be national, or it should be the experience of other countries that have traveled the same path that we are passing.
If Ukraine reaches all standards, would we need joining NATO then?
NATO is a military organization. This is the only union that assumes collective security - the protection of NATO members. Since wars are going on in the world today: 6 hostility spots exist in the world. The people need that protective umbrella and peace. There are a lot of people who want to get Ukraine, to take this slice. Therefore, we need NATO for collective defense. Today it is very difficult for one country to stand in the global world of disputes, problems, wars, aggression. Therefore, the Alliance was created precisely for this.
Should we consider the Russian position here?
We can’t completely close your eyes. This is our neighbor; we do not choose our neighbors. The one thing is to find mutual understanding so that Ukrainians, if we put in a referendum, vote, despite the position of Russia. Ukraine determines its domestic and foreign policy itself, it chooses its own course, and we will not listen to anyone who will intervene and teach us how to live. But, taking this important historical decision, we will take into account the interests of the neighboring state. Again, with the condition that when it makes its decision, it will take into account the interests of Ukraine.
How about the neutral status for Ukraine then?
Neutral status is a fiction. Ukraine will never have a neutral status. Historically, geographically, and militarily, Ukraine is at the crossroads of global peace, that is why declaring a neutral position is just a statement. If we want to quickly lose something, then we can think so. But if we want to survive in this world, to be a democratic state, but to defend our interests together with other democratic countries, then we must join the alliance.
In addition to military issues, there are other challenges to the state sovereignty of Ukraine. I mean the agricultural land market. Is this a challenge to the sovereignty of Ukraine?
If you carry out a thoughtless reform, then this can be a very serious challenge. This is one of the ways to lose territories, not only by military means, but by the market. For example, the mother has a plot of land. Her son has long been working in Russia and became a citizen of Russia. The mother dies and her son inherits the land, it becomes Russian. And then Putin might already say that he is protecting not only the “Russian world”: culture, the Russian language, but also property.
President Zelensky said that foreigners would not be the owners of agricultural land.
No, he said that we will decide at a referendum whether we would sell land to foreigners or not. A foreigner will come to the land he wants to buy. We do not know how much such land can be transferred from the Ukrainian people. Take the Constitution of Ukraine. The first section of the Constitution, general principles, articles 13, 14 of the Constitution, reads: the land is public property. The land is the national wealth of Ukraine. The state must protect the land as national wealth. The land is a territory. So when we give land, we give territory. We give one of the basic components: the concept of nation. If the Constitution states that the land is public property, can you or me sell this national property? No. Then why we need a referendum?
At the end of 2019, the portal of English dictionaries named the most popular word: "existential." What existential means for the Ukrainian people?
Existentialism is a philosophical category. It is not so easy to adapt it to the society. It depends on consciousness, the level of culture so that they can choose that path. As I see it, Ukraine must live some more time to combine this category of thinking with our capabilities - the capabilities of people living in Ukraine.