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‘Ukraine needs a revision of Constitution, not elections’

Published time: May 08, 2014 13:48
AFP Photo / Yuri Kirnichny

If Ukraine holds an election and gets a president, it will still have the same Parliament and the same Constitution, which won’t help to resolve the crisis, Jack Matlock Jr., former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, told RT.

RT: In terms of the disagreements over the Ukrainian crisis it could be said there is a re-start of the Cold War. Do you agree with that?

Jack Matlock: No, I don’t. Although I know that much of the rhetoric, many of the words sound like we are returning to the Cold War, but during the Cold War we had a worldwide confrontation of two ideologies and a tremendously dangerous arms race. We don’t have it anymore. This is a very tragic situation, in an important area of the world, but it’s not a worldwide confrontation. We don’t have an arms race, I don’t think there is going to be one. It is clear that whatever happens, the West is certainly not going to use force now. Most of us realize that what is going on there affects mainly Ukraine and Russia. I think it’s wrong to compare it to the Cold War. However, it has raised passions, and we hear statements that sound like the Cold War, but I think we have to understand this is quite different.

RT: If we move on and think about Western sanctions imposed on Russia. Do you think it’s an effective measure in terms of resolving this conflict?

JM: With the Western leaders having said “If certain things happen, there will have to be sanctions”, they have to carry something out or they will look weak to their own people. One needs to understand that the domestic politics is pushing those things. However, I do think that the main consequences are going to be in the situation itself and how it develops. In other words, if there is a cost to Russia or to Ukraine it is going to come about at the cost of their actions and not primarily the sanctions from outside.

RT: Is it possible to take proper presidential polls at the moment?

JM: It is looking less and less likely. I would think that it would be wise for all parties to organize, if they can, a revision of the Constitution, then a referendum. Even if they get a president, they will still have the same Parliament and they will still have the Constitution to do.

On the other hand, this has to be something that the Ukrainians agree upon, this is something that outsiders cannot impose. This is one of the problems we have. No leader has yet emerged that can unify the country and the last one they had who seemed to be supported by Russia was a thief and probably more than that. He seemed to have stolen billions from them. The problem is there, but outside interference whether from Russia or from the West has tended to divide. And I think that’s unfortunate.

RT: Many politicians, especially Russian politicians, are saying that there is no point in holding any international talks on how to resolve the crisis unless the Ukrainian opposition takes part. Do you agree with that?

JM: I would hope that if you can get an agreement between Russia, the EU and the US, one can go to the Ukrainians and say “This is what you have to do”. Whether it would work, I don’t know. But it does seem to me that one needs to keep the diplomacy going, and frankly, I think more has to be done quietly. Too much has been in public announcements. Back when we were ending the Cold War, the very sensitive issues we were doing privately and we tried to settle them without having a lot of controversy publicly. If we could go back to that, and it is going to be hard, because obviously our leaders have made a lot of public statements, and some of them have been more personally directed than it should be. But I would never say it’s too late for diplomacy. But I do think an effective diplomacy has to be quiet diplomacy and not arguing every point out in public.

RT: There were recent talks in Geneva with some agreements set. So it was diplomacy but why it didn’t work out? The west and Russia are blaming each other for that…

JM: I think some of the agreements were interpreted differently by different people. When you speak of withdrawal from the seized buildings, one side would say that means those seized recently and another would say that is conditional, those seized in the West earlier. The problem is finding the formula that will be accepted by all sides and we haven’t been able to do that yet.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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