“This phenomenon of the election campaign was not in any country in the world”: an interview with the Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine

"Такого феномена избирательной кампании не было ни в одной стране мира": интервью с послом Канады в Украине

For the presidential elections in Ukraine very closely, if not world, then at least that part of it which is our closest allies. The Western democracies are interested first of all that Ukraine did not turn from the path of reform, the policy of Europe and NATO. Us to help and support that we have received over the past five years, has not stopped.

As Ukrainian elections looks from the outside, what is expected from Ukraine, our allies and what Ukraine expect from the West? This website “Today” talked on the sidelines of the Kyiv security forum with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Ukraine Roman Vashchuk.

– Mr. Ambassador, how closely monitoring Ukrainian elections, the West, and how the results of the first round came as a surprise to observers abroad?

– We follow the events very carefully and study the situation carefully. Adaptability and flexibility is one of the characteristics of the diplomatic life. So we are always ready to change. But what is happening today in Ukraine – even on a global scale rather new and unique. This phenomenon is asymmetrical, partly virtual, partly very real election campaign has never happened before in any country in the world. Ukraine in this respect to some extent pioneer. So we are seeing not only because of the interest in Ukraine, but also because of the interest in the process itself.

– What, in your opinion, the reasons that in the first round of system policy got less results than non-systemic?

– Ukraine – a country, whose people have historically, for centuries skeptical of government. In addition, today we have the rapid development of virtual communication tools. And, in my opinion, the more people move into the virtual world, the more you communicate between themselves, the more these trends (the scepticism of the authorities, – ed.) increase. And this happens not only in Ukraine, it is felt in Western countries. However, the full force of this trend was reflected in the results in Ukraine. This is another reason why we are following with great attention the course of events.

– Ukrainian state institutions, in your opinion, strengthened enough after a painful reform to withstand the blows that may follow as a result of changing configurations of power? Are they able to provide continuity of policy – both domestic and foreign policy? Able to mitigate the possible drastic steps politicians? And will the West to help the state institutions?

– We build relationships with the government of Ukraine, and 42 million of its citizens. Of course, we had, have and will have programs to build the capacity of state institutions. And I think you somewhat underestimate the current institutional capabilities of the Ukrainian state institutions. Ukraine may not have been Scandinavia in terms of their effectiveness. But the existing mechanisms are, and we can work with any Ukrainian government and the international partners of Ukraine. Whatever the outcome of the elections will be and institutions, and the people with whom you can work.

– At these elections we had, in fact, a precedent: both candidates reaching the second round were invited to a meeting with the leaders of the influential European States. Vladamir Zelensky met with the President of France Emuunlim a Macron. Petro Poroshenko – with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That is of interest to candidates from the EU are obvious. Does this interest Canada as one of the closest us States? And what are the plans for cooperation with the head of state, that Ukrainians will elect on April 21?

– Of course, we will cooperate with Ukraine. Already 2-4 July this year, Toronto will host an international conference on reforms in Ukraine. This is the third such conference. The first two were in London and Copenhagen. And of course we will be happy to host a representative of the Ukrainian delegation, as well as the expected confirmation of the course on reforms.

– The President of Ukraine to this event will also be invited?

– Traditionally, the international conference on reforms in Ukraine, held with the participation of Prime Minister of your country. The issue of reforms we are working very closely with the Ukrainian government. Will I have to change the format in connection with the political developments in Ukraine, we will see in the preparatory process of the conference.

During the Kyiv security forum, of course, a lot is said about the need to strengthen cooperation between Ukraine and NATO. Including from the mouth of the owner of the forum – Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for member States to place NATO in Ukraine their military units. How likely is the increased military presence of NATO in our country?

– We are up to 2022 continued presence of 200 canadian forces personnel in Ukraine. So, when talking about Canada, we are here. Of course, with the training mission. But it is very practical: includes a lot, ranging from a new sniper courses for soldiers APU and finishing courses of the first medical aid, logistics, etc. On the Yavoriv training ground this year moved to a new operational and strategic level exercises – the exercises at the brigade level. So we can see progress. And we see that our auxiliary presence enhances the defense capability of Ukraine, and also sends a signal that Ukraine is important to us and we are ready to do everything possible to strengthen its defenses.

– How fair is the claim that such exercises are useful for both parties? Ukrainian military learn from NATO military cooperation within the Alliance, and the military of the NATO countries, in turn, – the practical skills of fighting?

Is 100% true. The majority of our military had no experience of war with an equal opponent or an opponent that prevails in combat power. When the army fights with all appliances against some of the Mujahideen with “Kalashnikovs” is one thing. And the fact that you are in the East of Ukraine, is another. So the exchange really happens. In addition, a very useful discussion and the development of mechanisms to counter the hybrid war. So we see our collaboration as a two-way street.

– At the NATO summit a decision was made to increase the presence of NATO in the Black sea. How can be effective declared in this context? And whether the safety of navigation in the Black sea by, for example, support of NATO ships of Ukrainian ships the passage of the Kerch Strait?

– From what I know, support is not provided. I think here we should speak about freedom of navigation in the Black sea. Interested in this, including our NATO allies in the black sea region. But also, increasing presence, we remind Russia occupied Crimea, can’t they just make the masters of the situation. What we have to reckon also with NATO.

– A bit about the economy. How well, in your opinion, the potential of cooperation between Canada and Ukraine?

– Cooperation is developing. In the past year recorded an increase of 55% of export of Ukrainian goods to Canada. Increase the volume, and most importantly, increases range, so we’re optimistic about the future.

Ukraine needs serious investment. In particular, we rely on investment by canadian business. What is the reason for rather modest so far, the results in this area? The war in the Donbass?

– No. It is more a question of the rule of law. The business wants to be sure that his investment in a year will still be his. That someone will not come, will not rewrite godfather-brother-friend. But, nevertheless, may be less than you expect, but investments are. There is a large IT-projects in Lviv, we see the interest of canadian business in oil and gas projects. In General, we see an increasing interest and willingness of canadian firms to invest in Ukraine.

"Такого феномена избирательной кампании не было ни в одной стране мира": интервью с послом Канады в Украине