– POPOVA: Mr. Ambassador, You have just assumed the duties of Ambassador. As You can see now the relations between Ukraine and France? Are there any negotiations, what are your plans?
DE PONCIN: Yes, I recently arrived in Ukraine and started immediately to work, because the agenda is quite intense. It is very interesting to be here at this moment: Ukraine has a new President, new government, and there is a real will to reform this country, which goes in the right direction.
That’s why our action plan is to support the government of Ukraine in its reform actions and efforts to achieve peace in the conflict in the East of the country. Relations between France and Ukraine are developing very well. Between our presidents, there is a good rapport.
They’re about the same age, both very energetic, maintain communications and regular contacts. So I would say that today comfortable with French Ambassador to Ukraine.
POPOVA: Yes, they started talking even before Zelensky became President. At the same time, the previous Ambassador, Isabelle Dumont, was very integrated into the political debate in Ukraine in the system. She was one of those who was an honorary member of the jury of the competition “Created by women”. For you this contest? Why the French Embassy supports this?
DE PONCIN: I will continue the same way, as did my predecessor, despite the fact that I’m a man, not a woman.
POPOVA: I Think it’s not a problem.
DE PONCIN: Thank You for that. This is important because gender equality is one of the priorities of the President of Macron, as in domestic politics, and international scale. Diplomacy is one of the instruments of this policy.
As you know, France holds the presidency this year in the Big Seven, and one of the topics of the summit in Biarritz in late August, was gender equality. On this occasion, was launched the partnership at the level of the group of Seven, aimed at the advancement of women worldwide.
– POPOVA: Ruslan You won the contest “Created by women” in the past year. What gave You this victory?
– RYMARSKA: This award has given me the inspiration to move on. Because my business is new, if you move from scratch, sometimes the effort decrease, sometimes falling faith that you will succeed. Actually, when I found out I was the winner of this contest has opened a new breath to move on and believe in the goals that I had to formulate, I want to achieve, and to which I move on. This competition gave me faith.
POPOVA: If you can tell me what happened to you after you win. What was the main prize, and what do you get?
– RYMARSKA: I’ll be honest, I really wanted to have my products sold in a network “Ashan”. When did this contest, I thought for sure you need to go there, because in the jury there are people who make decisions in the “Auchan”.
– POPOVA: Sorry, I will say for our viewers. Auchan is a French chain and they are also members of the French chamber of Commerce and industry.
– RYMARSKA: Actually, to somewhere they saw the brand, I really wanted to take part in this competition. One of the important benefitof win was the fact that I was introduced to the responsible persons of “Auchan” and we signed the agreement. Today the products are already sold in a network “Ashan”.
I also had a very inspiring trip to Paris, where I met with the sponsoring companies. I never thought that it would be so inspiring trip in terms of experience gained, to see how the business works in France. For example, visit the largest Bank in France – “Crеdit Agricole”, to get acquainted with the way they have built corporate culture.
Yes, it is a big company, and I have very little, but it is also some experience, you can aspire to. This is a meeting with the company “Michel et Augustin”. When I got there, I felt that I was in their company, but many years later, because I want to build a business. They also started like me, with a small company, with craft production. Very much in the beginning did themselves and managed to win the loyalty and love of buyers to your product.
POPOVA: Thank you, we’ll come back to that. Mr. Ambassador, a question for You. As I understand it, the issue of gender equality generally placed in the legislation in France? If you can, tell us about this concept that the French legislation that establishes equal rights between men and women?
DE PONCIN: Yes, actually we have intensified legal regulation in France in this field. This is important because it introduces new guidelines for French companies, encouraging them to adhere to certain standards. I believe we should be resolute in this matter.
We can’t just wait to things started to move in the right direction, and instead must be active and Pro-active, making concrete steps in the provision of benefits and of strengthening the role of women in the business environment. That is why, in Ukraine, we have supported this award through our chamber of Commerce.
I want to congratulate You on receiving this award last year. We will continue this support and further to demonstrate the importance of having more women in leadership positions in business and in the business sector.
POPOVA: You mean that France legislated percentage of women companies must have on the top positions?
DE PONCIN: Yes, it is a process that continues today has no binding character. However, these initiatives are pushing companies to improve gender balance, particularly at the senior staff level. We believe that it is more rational not to punish, but to persuade and encourage companies to better ensure gender equality.
– POPOVA: Ruslan, a question for you. And you support the concept of gender balance at the state level? If she’s in Ukraine at this level?
– RYMARSKA: Yes, I support. And I think that the more women would be involved in the decision-making (since most women work in positions of Vice is good, but they are not involved in decision-making), it seems that there will be a greater impact in social terms.
Because women still tend to think more long-term and what it will have consequences even for the environment. My opinion is that it is right, when the balance of women in governance at the state level.
– POPOVA: so, you tried, thanks to this award, to enter the European level?
– RYMARSKA: I am in the process. We took part in the exhibition (though not in Europe, and in Canada), where I met a company from Europe, we are now in the negotiation process. But it’s a long game, it is not that today we have already agreed, it’s a process.
Now we need to check our labels for compliance, and then proceed to step discussions of certain terms and conditions. That is, now we all fit the ingredients for compliance with all requirements.
POPOVA: I Wish you success in this. Mr. Ambassador, a question about the war in the East. Your President, Mr. macron, does a lot for that war, at least in the acute phase has ended. How do You see the developments in the Donbas? You’ve been on the Forum recently in Mariupol, as I understand it? As You can see generally there a development?
DE PONCIN: Yes, You are right when you say that the President Makron is doing a lot, trying to find a solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. He devotes a lot of time and effort, in consultation with Chancellor Merkel, President Putin and President Zelensky, including for organizations in the Paris summit in the Normandy format.
We are very optimistic about the possibility of its implementation. For this purpose there are certain preconditions, on which work is continuing, particularly at the level of the Trilateral contact group in Minsk. At the moment, these conditions are almost done and this should open the door for the summit.
– POPOV: do You think that the meeting in Normandy format will be held?
DE PONCIN: Yes, I think it will happen, of course. While there is no date, but what is important is the desire on the part of all summit participants to quickly end this terrible conflict, which is not a frozen conflict, as sometimes you can read about it in the international press.
This conflict has continued, bringing new casualties. I want to mention the Ukrainian military who are dying every month, almost every day. It is a terrible pain for Ukraine, and I share the pain as the representative of France. The other day I was at the forum in Mariupol, and it was a very successful event organized by the Ukrainian authorities. Really need to invest in the Eastern part of Ukraine.
With me was quite a large French delegation of more than 20 French companies. Were the practical projects aimed at the development of the economy of this region. In particular, in the framework of the forum signed an agreement on the development plan of water supply for the city of Mariupol, since the city is in need of clean drinking water.
This is a concrete example of our engagement in this part of the country. Overall, I want to remind that the French company ranks fifth among foreign investors in Ukraine and, depending on the method of calculation, we can be called a foreign employer number one in Ukraine.
You mentioned “Auchan” and some other French company. In the retail sector we are very visible, and plans to strengthen this trend in the coming months, as Ukraine there are many opportunities for French companies.
POPOVA: AND You think that on the other hand, on the part of Russia, they are ready to end these hostilities? At least in the framework of the Minsk agreements?
DE PONCIN: I cannot and will not interpret the position of Russia, but our feeling, the feeling of our President, which was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel – that, Yes, there is now a window of opportunity to make progress in this direction. This is the time when the international community must take action and put an end to this conflict.
– POPOVA: Right, I understand that the government of France and other members of the Normandy format, at least Germany, support the idea of “Formula Steinmeier,” the continuation of the Minsk agreements and withdrawal of forces, which is happening now?
DE PONCIN: Yes, the Minsk agreement, signed in 2015, apply today. “Formula Steinmeier” clarifies some aspects of their implementation. Harmonization for the advancement of prospects for the summit in the Channel format.
– POPOVA: Ruslan, did you try to sell your products in the East of Ukraine? Where do you now sell it?
– RYMARSKA: Our model involves working mostly with chain stores. It’s like a small shops, such as “Eco-Shop”, but also retail, as “Auchan” or “Novus”.
– POPOVA: That is, all who presented in the East?
– RYMARSKA: Yeah, I mean, if we signed an agreement with the network “Auchan”, our products are sold also in the East. “Novus” is not just, for example, representative offices in Kharkov, in the river. There is the most remote point is Nikolaev. And then they don’t move.
POPOVA: I was Recently talking to Mr. Macron that he would support the immigration of Africans, but does not support Bulgarian and the Ukrainian network. What he had in mind?
DE PONCIN: WITH the leadership of the Ukrainian foreign Ministry, we agreed that was not quite true perception of our President. The interview was not foreign policy, domestic issues, and there is no negativity towards Ukraine was not. Unfortunately, in the local press, this was interpreted not quite correctly.
POPOVA: What are your next steps regarding award “by women”? I understand that you will participate?
DE PONCIN: of Course, the Franco-Ukrainian chamber of Commerce will continue to support the award this year. The project is continuing and is very successful. The French Embassy for its part, fully supports this contest.
POPOVA: You’ll be in the jury?
DE PONCIN: Yes, I am a member of the jury.
POPOVA: What do you want to wish to those women who will participate?
– RYMARSKA: I would like to note that it is very nice that the foreign country has established this award and shows our country how to support women. Because, in fact, in Ukraine there was still such awards, which celebrated women in business. Not just rating, and such a reward.
What would you like to wish? Believe in yourself, because, as I said, the premium I gained faith to move forward towards its ambitious goals. And even if something goes wrong, then raise his hands, his head and go forward. Because the road is always walking.
And probably you should never feel sorry for yourself and use the fact that “I’m a woman.” That is, if we are in the business, we must be equal, must be competitive and, therefore, to think about how your product and your company to present is always better.
POPOVA: Thank you. At least, I think that women have less opportunities to get into a situation that was covered quite well-known around the world project MeToo, when women were told what kind of harassment they suffered from men. You know about this project MeToo, which was launched in the United States, and who then came to Ukraine? We even in our army, there have been some incidents that have begun to unfold. As this took place in France? I heard that even Catherine Deneuve was against it?
DE PONCIN: Catherine Deneuve was against it when it went too far. She believed that we import a certain culture, which is not part of the French. But, anyway, this process continues and is gaining publicity in all spheres. These violations are unacceptable and less perceived by women and the General population.
Recently adopted a number of measures to remedy and improve the situation, in particular in the field of film and media, and it is positive. More and more attention is paid to this issue in France but also in Ukraine and in other democratic countries of the world.
– POPOV: Russia has recently returned to the PACE, as I understand it, France supported a return? Why did this happen?
DE PONCIN: Not only France, it is a vote of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which at that time was not of the Russian delegation. Now she’s back.
Formed a consensus about this. Why? Because we believe that it is better to have Russia in the Council of Europe than outside of it, and positively to protect Russian citizens, because they will have legal recourse to the Court of human rights in Strasbourg to protect their rights.
That is why the decision was made, which allowed the return of Russia. France played a leading role, as led by the Council of Europe at the time (this presidency ends in late November and passed Georgia).
But again, France was not alone in making this decision, he was supported by most member countries of the Council of Europe.
POPOVA: But what of the inmates who helps this Russian participation in PACE, You are sure that Russia fulfills all the conditions that need to the European institutions regarding inmates?
DE PONCIN: Not completely, but, if Russian citizens are outside the legal field of the Council of Europe, we cannot be confident that their rights will be protected in such a way that they will be in the conditions when Russia is present in this organization.
POPOVA: But in Moscow, was made large arrests before the elections, local city Council, and helped them to the Council of Europe?
DE PONCIN: At least, Russian citizens are provided the opportunity to submit an appeal to the Court of human rights of the Council of Europe, and it became possible due to the presence of Russia in this organization.