Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Donetsk People's Republic

“Meeting place” with Natalia Nikonorova

10 January 2017

Host - Dear friends, within the framework of the "Meeting Place" program, we continue to sum up the work of the ministries and departments of the Donetsk People's Republic in the past year. Hello. Today our guest is Natalia Nikonorova, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Donetsk People's Republic. Good afternoon. Well, at the beginning of our program, let's move a little away from the template that we have already. That is, we will not discuss figures and facts, but let's talk about work on specific examples. Let's start with Minsk.

N.N. - We can start with Minsk. Well, as You know, the Minsk negotiating process is one of the main fundamental tasks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, maintaining political dialogue through representation in the political group. The whole year we were engaged in this process, and most of the time in the work of the Ministry was devoted to this process. Unfortunately, talking about results, there was not much that we could achieve, although we did a lot of work. So, on our part, we have implemented and even gone beyond the tasks that we faced, we have presented several versions of the full package of documents that were to serve as the outcome of the Minsk agreements, which were to implement Complex of measures in the Legislation of Ukraine. It includes the draft on the specifics of local elections, the draft of the constitutional reform, the law draft on the prevention of the prosecution of persons involved in the events in Donbass and, of course, the draft amendments to the law on special status, which was to determine the mechanism for the entry into force of the law according “Steinmayer’s formula”. Also for the first time the document "Roadmap", as You know, is being developed at the level of Foreign Ministers of the Normandy Four. It was proposed by us. It was our proposal, our development. We understood that this procedure for the implementation of work, the schedule of work is simply necessary. Nevertheless, we did not find mutual understanding and agreement with the Ukrainian representatives on this document. Now it is being developed in the “Normandy format”, as I said before. Nevertheless, tango is danced by two people, clap is not possible with one hand, that is, we continue to work and fulfill our obligations. The most important task for us is the protection of our citizens’ lives, the settlement of the conflict by peaceful means. For us, this is the most important, so we are working in full force. It is a pity that we can not find understanding with Ukraine. Although active work is being done with the party of mediators involved in this negotiation process, the Russian Federation and the OSCE, we receive some assistance.

H. - There are also positive moments in past year. The Donetsk People's Republic is represented in Europe, our Representative Centers have been opened.

N.N. - Indeed, we have already opened several Representative Centers in Europe. And it can be called as success of our activity, significant result. The first RepresentativeCenter was opened in CzechRepublic - in the city of Ostrava, on 1.09. A lot of tedious work was done on the statutory documents of this center so that they would influence the work of the center. By the way, it was opened thanks to the visit to the Donetsk People's Republic of our representative Nela Liskova. She was very surprised, because the picture shown by Western media does not coincide with reality at all. Nela got acquainted with the real events that are happening here, met with people, looked at how it all happens in reality and she was very impressed and has organized such a project - RepresentativeCenter of the Donetsk People's Republic in the CzechRepublic. Significantly, the interest of European countries, of European society grows up towards the events in the Donetsk People's Republic. Information begins to penetrate into Europe about the events that we have and the results of such visits (we are visited by public figures, politicians, tourist groups, journalistic groups). People are impressed by the difference, as it is real and how it is presented by official media and officials in Europe. Therefore, we began to receive proposals for cooperation from political and public figures of other states. The second center was opened in Italy, in the city of Turin. I can say that another RepresentativeCenter has already been registered in Finland. Today it is not open yet, the opening date is planned, but the center is already registered and we hope that in the near future it will start working. There are several more projects, I would not like to announce in advance. Let it be a pleasant surprise for everyone, a gift from us in 2017.

H. - Thank You, Natalia Yuryevna. We summed up the results of the talks in Minsk and going to talk about the achievements of our Ministry at the international level. International agreements: What are they? With whom? And what do You plan?

N.N. - Today we have work on signing international treaties, interdepartmental, first of all, with the Republic of South Ossetia. As you know, we have mutual recognition with this republic and today we are actively cooperating in this direction. With assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a memorandum was signed between the Ministry of Communications of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Committee on Communications and Telecommunications of the Republic of South Ossetia. Work is under way, at the stage of agreement, interdepartmental agreements and memorandums between the Ministries of Justice of both republics, the Ministries of Emergency Situations. This year a memorandum on cooperation between the Ministries of Education of the republics has already been signed. This work is in the active phase. Within the framework of the signed memorandums, coordinating committees will be established, which will develop appropriate lines between the ministries. We actively cooperate with the Lugansk People's Republic on the coordination of international, intergovernmental and interdepartmental acts. With the Republic of South Ossetia, there is also a draft treaty on friendship and cooperation. This is the basic interstate agreement. Opportunities for signing agreements with the Republic of Abkhazia are being developed, and coordination is being conducted in various areas with constituent entities of the Russian Federation. As it is known, a Complex of measures requires cross-border cooperation between the Donetsk People's Republic and the relevant subjects of federal states. Now this is a very active phase and we continue to work on it.

H. - As far as I know, the Ministry is actively working on collecting facts of crimes of the Ukrainian party.

N.N. - This is not the Ministry, but a Special committee, which was established under the Ministry, with assistance of the Ministry. I am the chairman of this committee, but the committee represents a large number of executive bodies and there is an ombudsman, human rights commissioner, representatives of law enforcement agencies of the republic and the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Ministry of Information, and representatives of the deputy corps. This is such a complex committee, which includes almost all representatives of all areas.

H. - Will the result of this work be the “White paper”? It already exists, but it is supplemented with facts, yes?

N.N. – The “White Paper” is only part of the work of a Special committee. The main task is the complete collecting and recording of absolutely all facts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the government of Ukraine, directed against the inhabitants of the Donetsk People's Republic. These are crimes that are not amnestied by any international act, accordingly, all those, who are guilty must be punished. Therefore, a full database, a full register of absolutely all episodes, all facts will be at the disposal of a Special committee. At the same time, this register is open, we are ready to cooperate both with the public and with law enforcement agencies. Any information, any materials that will come to us, can be used, for example, in the work of a Public committee for the formation and filing of claims to the European Court of Human Rights, for formation in the ICC. These are materials that can form the basis of criminal cases, which will be initiated in the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic. That is, this complete registry can be used in absolutely different directions, but the most complete database will be kept in a Special committee.

H. - You have mentioned the arrival of foreign delegations. Could You tell us in more detail? Who have come? Journalists, tourist groups?

N.N. - In 2016, we were visited twice as many delegations as in 2015. It was about 53 delegations of absolutely different levels. The most extensive event this year was the celebration of two-year anniversary of Republic’s establishment, on May 11. With assistance and organization of visits by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we were visited by representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Russian Federation, the Lugansk People's Republic, and representatives of the European Union. There were politicians and public figures, delegates from states: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the CzechRepublic. As a result of visits, we see that there is a growing interest in cooperation not only in the information sphere (for us the most important is to bring truth, truth about the situation to any state) and also in other spheres. It is cultural, social, economical sphere, because the Donetsk People's Republic is a profitable partner in the economical mean, in the industrial mean. Therefore, investors are interested in it. That is, these visits do not end simply at the level of "come-see-leave", but certain contacts are established, relationships are developed, investors, businessmen come. Here we can coordinate these interests, organize meetings with the relevant profile ministries, with heads of departments, with heads of state enterprises. We hope that soon this work will bear fruitful results.