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​Why Ukraine needs a new constitution fair to all

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

Published time: April 07, 2014 21:15
Pro-Russian protesters hang a banner and wave flags as they storm the regional government building in Donetsk April 6, 2014. (Reuters)

The situation in Ukraine is nothing short of a deep social and political crisis. With the rights of national minorities violated and the interests of regions disregarded, Crimeans found it necessary to quickly determine their own political future.

We have to respect their right to self-determination, a right guaranteed by the UN Charter.

There is currently no fully legitimate executive authority in Ukraine. The acting government was formed by the parliament under intimidation – and even direct use of force – against MPs by extremists. Local governments all over Ukraine are taking the situation into their own hands. With a real risk of civil war and social disintegration, there is still a chance to save Ukraine from political, social, and not least economic collapse.

The agreement signed on February 21, 2014 by President Yanukovich and opposition leaders, and mediated by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland, provided for a constitutional reform in Ukraine. This idea remains fully relevant.

Any new constitution should recognize the legitimate aspirations of all Ukrainians and all of the nation’s regions to live safely in accordance with their traditions and customs. The principles of rule of law, protection of human rights - including the rights of all minorities - freedom of speech, and activities of political parties and mass media should be enshrined in it.

Ukraine’s political system should be based on the idea of a democratic federal state such as, for example, Germany, Russia, or the US. Its status of military-political neutrality should be enshrined in the constitution and guaranteed by the EU, Russia, the US, and a UN Security Council resolution. Along with Ukrainian, Russian should be given state-language status, with other languages granted a status in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

A man shouts during a pro-Russia rally near the regional government building in Donetsk April 6, 2014. (Reuters)

Regions should independently elect their legislative and executive bodies through a direct vote and have wide authority, reflecting the cultural and historic identity of each of them, with regard to economy and finance, language policy, and education. The rights of national minorities living in the federation’s constituent entities should be protected; interference in matters of religion and faith should be strictly prohibited. That is nothing extraordinary. Just on the contrary, very much in line with European values.

Following the adoption of a new constitution by a nationwide referendum, national elections should be held, together with elections of legislative and executive bodies, in each constituent entity. A broad and objective international observation will be crucial. These are the proposals that Russia has put forward to our Western partners. We believe we could unite our efforts in encouraging Ukrainians to find common ground on the principles outlined. This sequence is key to the right outcome, the one that will help put Ukraine on a sustainable footing.

The multi-ethnic Ukrainian people have the right to live in a democratic and civilized state with the future of Ukraine in their own hands. The February 21 agreement was based on this assumption. It is not yet too late to make good on those commitments, if the Ukrainian revolution is to be about democracy and human rights and not about an extremist minority imposing a national-radical narrative upon the rest of the society.

If the former is the case, then Russia is ready and willing to help.

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

Comments (15)

 

AdmiralThakain 11.04.2014 06:23

You forget that the majority make the decision and in Crimea and Eastukrainethe majority of the people are with the russian. What ever will be, the people have to make here choice. Mr. Putin is a hero and not a dictator and Hitler was a sick men and Mr. Putin fight for the people and for justice ! Look to Kiev how many person in the government come from the right fascists sector ! And why the USA and the EU spend 5 Billions US Dollars in the Ukraine and the Klitschko party to destabilize the Ukraine !?

 

Alan Clark 09.04.2014 12:06

WELL...Capitalism or Communism neither is correct, E.U. or Russian Trade, democracy or dictatorship ,All words of separation, TALK learn to co-operate ,LOVE thy brother not fight him, HATRED only weakens and never wins, HOPE is what the world asks for- from you governments, TOGETHER all people of every land language be friends forever, NUCLEAR WAR none of us wish the end lets not start one, WW3 has it already started ? hope not never have another great war, PEACE wish one day whole planet will ban war,....P.S. The pen will always be stronger than the gun.....Thankyou all.................

 

John M. Wadsworth 08.04.2014 17:36

If Ukraine needs or wants a new constitution, that is something that Ukrainians, and only Ukrainians, should decide. Involving the U.N., Russia, the U.S., the E.U. or any outside country or international body is unnecessary.

As far as language use, it is pointless to draw analogies from other countries. English is the de facto language in the U.S.. All government documents and pronouncements are in English. Americans would reject any attempt to make Spanish an "official" language despite the number of Spanish speakers. Why then should Ukraine be required to officially use Russian? In Rome do as the Romans do.

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