«Peace plan: reboot»

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«Peace plan: reboot»

The armed conflict in Donbas jeopardizes the stability of world order. Internationalization of the conflict could turn into a large-scale European war, which will  have no winner.

Further escalation of the armed conflict could lead to new upheavals in Ukraine and crisis of its statehood. That is why, right are those who believe that this conflict has no military solution. The call for a political settlement of the conflict is in the documents and statements issued by EU, PACE, NATO and OSCE representatives, state leaders of the Budapest Memorandum signatories, alstate-partners of Ukraine.

During the conflict, the armed separatist movement in Donbas has strengthened, with external support from the Russian Federation (military and financial aid, manpower, diplomacy, propaganda).

According to recent PACE documents, the separatists are called «party» (i.e., resolution №2034, p.8). This reflects a new political reality, associated with the beginning of the «Minsk Process» of negotiations of authoritative parties, and the adoption of the so-called «peace plan», which, unfortunately, the parties do not adhere to.

It should be noted that the ineffectiveness of negotiations at the highest level (the so-called «Norman» and «Geneva» formats) is, above all, conditioned by the lack of a viable basis for negotiating at the level of the direct participants of the conflict.

The events of January 2015, related to strong escalation of armed confrontation and the actual breakdown of the «Minsk process», indicate that the conflict is entering a frontal war phase and can get out of hand for all the participants.

Already, hostilities have led to a humanitarian disaster: thousands of civilian casualties, more than one million refugees, dozens of destroyed settlements and infrastructure in the region, with economic and social facilities systematically being destroyed.

Hunger, cold, poverty, unemployment, violence and criminal tyranny, the fear and despair of civilians – this is the new reality of Donbas, caused by the war.

In this critical situation, it is necessary to provide three interrelated conditions to overcome the conflict:

First, ensure dialogue and negotiations at two levels simultaneously - national (involving the conflicting parties) and international.

Second, organize an international peacekeeping mission, that will ensure adherence to the conditions of the achieved peace during the transition period, determined by the new peace plan.

Third, a broad national dialogue on the conditions and prospects of ensuring sovereignty, integrity and unity of the state, development of local democracy based on self-government, strengthening guarantees of civil rights and liberties.

The war must be stopped. Peace, compromise, restoration of normal life in the region and the whole country - these goals can unite all Ukrainians and stop the impending disaster.

The following steps are required to ensure new peace.

First. Create a new, «post-Minsk» negotiation format. The negotiators - authorized representatives of the President, Parliament and Government of Ukraine, the leadership of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (public administration, local government), authorized representatives of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, diplomatic representatives of the RF and the EU, an authorized OSCE Mission, UN Special Representative. The task of the new negotiating team - develop a specific action plan for a cease fire, provide humanitarian truce, release of prisoners, approve the guaranteed boundary line. The action plan must also include measures to provide humanitarian support to the population, restoration of economic facilities and infrastructure, provide assistance and support to refugees. The plan should assume a transition period of at least three months.

The group’s place of operation may be any settlement in Ukraine, which is recognized by the parties as safe and which is selected by mutual concession.

At the same time, to organize systematic work on areas affected by conflict, there is a need in a special committee of the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council) on the revival of areas affected by armed conflicts.

Second. An international negotiation format within Ukraine, the Guarantor States on Security Assurance (signatories of the Budapest Memorandum), the European Union and with the participation of international organizations - the UN and the OSCE. The objective of the negotiations - guarantee Ukraine’s peace and security, in the context of the preparation and implementation of a new peace plan.

Third. Establish a Ukrainian-Russian Commission for the settlement of border issues, with the mediation of the OSCE. Under the terms of the new peace plan, the following must be ensured: control of the Ukraine-Russian border, measures to return Russian citizens, participating in the conflict in Donbas, back to Russia, cessation of supplies of military equipment and ammunition in the conflict zone.

Fourth. Hold an urgent session (meeting) of the OSCE, which should become the organizer and coordinator in implementing the peacekeeping mission in the conflict zone (boundary line, Ukraine-RF border line). OSCE members, among neutral and non-aligned countries, may be involved as direct participants.

To ensure such a mission, it is suggested to adopt an OSCE Policy Statement on the Ukrainian issue. This Statement should outline the new tasks of the OSCE Mission, as the only international organization on security in Europe, granted credence and which can form the basis of the renewed European security architecture.

Fifth. It is necessary to conduct a thorough international investigation of all the facts of war crimes against civilians in Donbas. For this purpose, a special commission of the Verkhovna Rada must be set up, which, in coordination with representatives of OSCE member-states, will ensure an objective and fair investigation of ALL war crimes.

Sixth. Along with the establishment of peace, it is necessary to create a broad Council on Donbas, which will include representatives of local government, NGOs and business associations, representatives of different factions in the Verkhovna Rada, moral authorities. The purpose of this Council –  develop a long-term development program of Donbas, organize a broad dialogue in the region, which was affected by the conflict, as well as between other regions of Ukraine.

Seventh. Upon achieving peace – hold a National Unity Forum, which will be attended by representatives of local governments from all regions of Ukraine, representatives of parliamentary factions, the Head of State. The purpose of the Forum – reach an agreement on the issues of reforming self-government and the administrative-territorial structure of Ukraine. The results of the Forum could be displayed in the Constitutional Manifesto, which would mark the beginning of a new constitutional process in Ukraine.

Eighth. The most important prerequisite for peace and security is the restoration of confidence and business relations between Ukraine, EU and RF. Removal of sanctions, normalization of economic relations, formation of a new contractual basis for relations require a new permanent Ukraine-EU-RF negotiation format. This format can be created as a permanent tripartite parliamentary committee, with the support of a tripartite expert group.

Dialogue on the future of Ukraine will be possible only if there is peace. These steps will allow us to stop the war, save thousands of lives among our fellow countrymen, restore peace in Ukraine and Europe, and start a serious dialogue on how to live in a united country.