KARACHI: Ukrainian soldiers have served as peacekeepers with Pakistani soldiers in Bosnia but Ukraine is reducing its participation in such activities now because the country has its own conflicts to look into for which it needs its men, said Dr Olena Bordilovska, an expert on international relations, during her talk at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Monday.
However, she said, Ukraine is a peaceful country.
“We don’t want any disputes with our neighbours,” she said coming to their being the third biggest country with tactical as well as strategic military weapons. “But we signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances document to give up our nuclear arsenal,” she added.
Dr Bordilovska, associate professor at the Institute of International Relations, Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, Ukraine, was speaking on ‘Foreign Policy of Independent Ukraine’.
She explained that the country gave up its nuclear arsenal “because although we were the third largest potential nuclear power, we could not control it because the control was still with Russia though we were no longer a part of USSR. It was also very expensive to take care of for Ukraine.”
“Then there were also pressure from the world on Ukraine as we could not be trusted as a peaceful country with our nuclear weapons,” she added. “So we gave it all up, which many now say was a mistake on our part.”
Enmity with Russia
She said that the enmity with Russia affected their economy, while antiterrorist operations claimed the life of some 10,000 Ukrainians. “But it has made our army stronger. In strength it is eighth in Europe,” she added.
“We have been a member of the United Nations since 1945, when we were a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and at the moment we are a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council,” she said.
During her talk, she also explained why the people of her country identify themselves more with Europeans. “We want to be considered a part of the European Union because we are in Europe,” she said.
“Located in central Eastern Europe and positioned between West Europe and Russia and Europe and Asia, Ukraine, a democratic state for the last 25 years, faces several challenges. Though we want to be good and reliable neighbours to all, we have many territorial disputes with Russia,” she said.
Speaking about the GUAM Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development, which has four post-Soviet states — Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova — as its members, she said the organisation promoted democratic values and worked to enhance regional security while looking forward to European integration.
The Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, a regional international organisation focusing on multilateral political and economic initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation, peace, stability and prosperity in the Black Sea region, could have borne fruit but for the sanctions on Russia. “Many of its projects were stopped due to this,” she said.
She also brought up the Ukraine and Nato partnership since the 1997 charter. “Security issue is the number one issue for every country,” she said. “The partnership helped our country experience a change in standards of military equipment. The joint exercises are very helpful as well.”
Coming to Ukraine and its relations with Pakistan, Dr Bordilovska, who speaks good Urdu, said that they had a lot of Pakistani students at their university.
“When I was in Islamabad earlier, I saw long lines at the Ukrainian embassy there for visa. Many people here want to visit [Ukraine]. Recently, there was also an MOU signed between your Quaid-i-Azam University and Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University,” she said.
“We also had a common friend in the Muslim scholar Allama Mohammad Asad, who played a part in the penning of Pakistan’s Constitution. He was from the part of Austria which is now Ukraine,” she said.
“Pakistan Army’s Al-Khalid tank also has Ukrainian transmissions,” she added.
“Ukraine, which was once the bread basket of USSR, produces pulses, which are imported [for] Pakistan. We also grow sunflower. Our sunflower oil is also imported by your country. On the other hand, your citrus fruit is growing very well in our country,” she concluded.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017