2018 Diplomacy: Year in Review
Ukraine faced some hardships but also had many victories
2018 was a year full of political developments for Ukraine.
The extension of sanctions against Russia is being declared as Ukraine’s main victory in the international arena. This was noted by 120 Ukrainian experts and journalists, who were surveyed in early December of last year. In the European Union, sanctions have been extended until July 31, 2019. The affected sectors of Russia’s economy include financial, energy and defense.
“Despite all the difficulties in the environment of the European Union and possible disagreements, the sanctions against the Russian Federation were preserved,” vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Volodymyr Ariev said.
The relationship between Hungary and Ukraine became tense over the course of last year. A video showing the consulate of Hungary in the town of Berehove in Ukraine’s Zakarpattia region reportedly issuing Hungarian passports to Ukrainian citizens was published online. Both countries then exchanged accusations. The head of the Hungarian consulate in Berehove, Matyash Siladi, was first declared a persona non grata in Ukraine and then expelled.
The passport scandal was discussed at the OSCE Foreign Ministers Summit. It was there where Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin managed to agree with his Hungarian counterpart and smooth things out.
“They say they don’t issue these passports now, and they will not do it. This is already good. I remember when he said that the issuance of Hungarian passports on our territory does not contradict Ukrainian law. It’s over now. I, unfortunately, can not guarantee that they will not stop trying to issue passports in Hungarian territory, but we cannot control them there,” Klimkin said.
Meanwhile, the solution to this issue has been postponed. Hungary is waiting for the results of the presidential elections in Ukraine.
“There are already official statements from the leadership of Hungary, and as far as I know, on their TV channels, they show the true position of Budapest, in particular, the fact that Hungary does not plan to work with the current leadership of the country, namely with President Poroshenko,” chief editor of Yevropeiska Pravda, Serhiy Sydorenko said.
Also in 2018, Andriy Pyshnyi, head of the board of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine, shared the case file on his suit against Russia. The document consisted of more than 30,000 pages. On Nov. 26, the arbitral tribunal in Paris decided to impose a penalty on Russia totaling $2,300,000,000. This is the sum of estimated losses suffered by the bank because of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
“The judicial decision obliges Russia to immediately ensure the payment. If this is not done, then for each day of delay, the interest rate is set at about $97,000 a day,” Pyshniy said.
Ukrainian Naftogaz also won a legal battle in a dispute with the Russian Gazprom. A Stockholm arbitration court sustained Naftogaz’s claim and obliged Russia to pay compensation for insufficient gas transit volume. The sum came out to $2, 600,000,000.
Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait was another test for Ukrainian diplomacy. A new package of sanctions for Russia was discussed on the international stage. The United Nations General Assembly supported a resolution on the militarization of Crimea. Russia was called on to withdraw their army from the peninsula and to stop occupying Ukrainian territory.
In a survey, experts named the main priorities for Ukrainian diplomacy in 2019.
“Ending Russian aggression is the priority of 88 percent of respondents. Euro-Atlantic integration totaled 60 percent, attracting foreign investment in Ukraine- 50 percent. The implementation of the association agreement with the European Union was 40 percent,” expert Serhiy Herasymchuk said.
In addition, these experts said that Ukraine needs to form a neighborhood policy and deepen cooperation with the United States.