Archive for October 9th, 2017


Black Sea bureaucracy and rhetoric

October 9, 2017

The past few days have seen the Black Sea, and specifically the stability and security thereof, feature.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly releasing Resolution 437 to wit – after a gathering in Bucharest the proceedings of which Romania will no doubt be pleased.

Whether or not said Resolution is fully deserving of the enthusiasm for it that spewed forth from Irina Friz is perhaps debatable, however there was naturally a need to rigorously promote it among the domestic constituency.

Indeed, positively framed it should be.

There are no negatives within, no unnecessarily barbed, prickly nor uncomfortable statements regarding Ukraine.  A more positive Resolution from a Ukrainian perspective, within the parameters of political realism, the Resolution text probably could not reach.

How it is interpreted and understood will perhaps require a more sober and measured response than may initially come.

As an aside, for those policymakers in Kyiv that read the blog – perhaps the waving of port fees for NATO nation naval ships docking at Odessa Port might be considered a reasonable gesture?

Perhaps a little more surprising, (and worth political points x 2), was the announcement that the 2020 NATO Parliamentary Assembly will be held in Kyiv.

With pre-election electioneering underway, political points are scored by the current authorities – and whomever emerges victorious from the 2019 Presidential and Verkhovna Rada elections, it will be they who will be hosting the NATO PA the following year and scoring political points too.

For the Ukrainian military and military industrial complex, considering President Poroshenko’s repeatedly stated aim of meeting NATO standards by 2020, minds will remain focused on that goal.  Whomever leads Ukraine in 2020 will want something to show when hosting.

Quite how many of the innumerable NATO standards will have been met by 2020 remains to be seen, but progress there clearly has been and that will now certainly continue – regardless of reform and policy successes and failures elsewhere.

Indeed it is probably the civilian side to NATO standards (and expectations) that will be far less progressed than the military itself by 2020.  In short the military structure, equipment and interoperability is perhaps more achievable by 2020 than that of the civil requirements.

Ukraine would perhaps be wise to view Article 3 of the Washington Treaty in its widest possible terms relating to “resistance” – namely reading it not only as military capabilities, but social, political and economic too.

Ukrainians certainly managed to accomplish/meet those requirements in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and the subsequent Kremlin actions despite the absence, or perhaps because of the absence of an effective government.  But can it now do it as effectively and with such energy and commitment with a government perhaps being in the way?

To conclude a successful few Black Sea days, the visit of Turkish President Recep Erdogan to Kyiv on 9th October brought with it the boilerplate Turkish commentary relating to Crimea –  “We did not recognize and do not recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimea.”  

All in all, a successful few days of Black Sea bureaucracy and rhetoric for Ukraine.  As always the challenge is turning bureaucratic rhetoric into tangible results for all involved in the Resolution.


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