War, Peace and Reintegration: What Happens after the ATO?


On April 24, 2018, a round-table discussion “War, Peace and Reintegration: What Happens after the ATO?” was held at the Verkhovna Rada Committees. It was the third such event organised within the framework of the National Platform – Dialogue on Peace and Secure Reintegration.

In his opening remarks Hryhoriy Nemyria, Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and Interethnic Relations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said that it is a mistake to believe that a reintegration policy should be developed after peace has been secured. On the contrary, he said, “The meaning we are going to attach to the policy now will define the parameters of sustainable and comprehensive peace”.

The first session of the round-table focused on discussing what reintegration policy means, whether a political consensus could be reached about it, and how inter-sectoral cooperation should be improved to make decision–making more effective.

The participants of the discussion agreed that human dimension was one of the fundamental levels of reintegration. “Human being has a crucial role to play in the reintegration. The policy on IDPs and residents of the occupied territories should be clear and well-articulated”. – said Emine Dzhaparova,  First Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine.

Roman Bezsmertnyi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, shared her view and said that a solution could be found if reintegration was seen with the eyes of those real people who had left DPR/LPR and now lived next door to us. If not, everything would come down to counter-productive conversations on the “walls”, “borders” and “blitzkriegs” in the East of Ukraine.

Journalist Pavlo Kazarin suggested that Kyiv rhetoric as to the residents of the occupied territories should be dramatically different from the one used by Moscow: Russia treats them as the architects of occupation, while for us they are rather its hostages. These things are critical, he said, as this is the war for values, therefore they should be publicly stated and promoted.

The second session covered the risks Ukraine might face when restoring its full-scale sovereignty and secure reintegration.

Vadym Denysenko, MP, noted that the Russian Federation could use the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine to increase its influence and escalate the situation, instigating pinpoint conflicts through the church, actions of the radical nationalists and the voters unhappy with the elections outcome.

Oleksandr Martynenko, Interfax Ukraine Editor-in-Chief, was concerned with the fact that people and governmental institutions in Ukraine were getting used to working and living without the occupied territories, and this posed a serious threat to the reintegration. “Many politicians are even content about the situation, and it affects public opinion negatively,” – said Mr Martynenko.

Lack of public trust to the authorities and media is another serious risk. According to Maria Zolkina, political analyst of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, inadequate communication is exacerbating the growing mistrust. Donetsk and Luhansk GCA residents do not understand the Government’s policy on Donbas restoration. Moreover, they interpret the absence of positive changes as another proof that neither reintegration nor the restoration are the Ukrainian Government’s priorities. At the same time, Ukrainians in all the regions of the country have no animosity toward DPR/LPR residents who are not stigmatized by the society.

Oleksiy Matsuka, Donbas News Editor-in-Chief, confirmed that there was demand for a better communication and a public policy aimed at strengthening unity. He claimed that most people did not know the content of the Reintegration Law, did not understand the functions the Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and the consequences of Minsk Agreements. Thus, the reintegration policy should not only target Luhansk and Donetsk regions but cover all regions of the country and include several levels, such as diplomatic, political, social, economic and cultural ones.

In his concluding remarks Volodymyr Lupatsiy, Executive Director of Sophia Research Center, stressed that the Russian aggression and occupation of a part of the Ukrainian territory had resulted from a failed reintegration policy of the past. Today it is important to realise that this policy cannot be sectoral as it is an element of the national security system. In practical terms, it would require a reintegration concept, a national monitoring, and a public platform as a permanent forum to discuss all pertinent issues.

“Unity, legitimacy, efficiency and consistency are the mandatory conditions for reintegration”, said Jusuf Kurkchi, First Deputy Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs. “No elections should make secure reintegration a secondary issue”.

Source: UCIPR