Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Perebyinys was in a working visit to North Macedonia, on October 10, as part of a diplomatic tour to the countries of the Western Balkans. He met with high government representatives, including the Defense Minister, Slavjanka Petrovska.
Mr. Perebyinis and his Macedonian partners discussed further deepening of the bilateral political dialogue, interaction of the two countries within the international organizations, and participation of North Macedonia in the implementation of international initiatives of our country, such as the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the International Crimean Platform.
The deputy head of the foreign affairs ministry of Ukraine also discussed in detail with Macedonian government officials the issue of European integration of the two countries as candidate countries for membership in the European Union, as well as further exchange of experience in this area. Separately, the parties exchanged views on Ukraine’s accession to NATO and further support from North Macedonia on this path.
Mr. Perebyinis expressed his country’s gratitude to the Macedonian side for joining the Core Group for the creation of the Special Tribunal on the crime of aggression against our country, as well as for the significant political, humanitarian and military-technical assistance provided to Ukraine.
In this exclusive interview, CIVIL MEDIA discussed key issues with the deputy head of the foreign affairs ministry of Ukraine. Through this interview, the high representative of Ukraine has sent several powerful messages. “Support Ukraine, stay on the right side of history” – Mr. Perebyinis said.
Indeed, it’s heartening to see diplomatic efforts aimed at deepening bilateral ties and fostering cooperation between these two nations. The discussions on European integration, NATO accession, and support for initiatives like the International Crimean Platform are all significant steps towards a more stable and united global community.
The message “Support Ukraine, stay on the right side of history” is a powerful call to action. It encapsulates the importance of solidarity and standing up for justice and human rights. Every individual and nation can play a role in making a positive impact on the world stage.
It’s invigorating to see individuals like Deputy Minister Yevhen Perebyinys who, in cooperation with government institutions, as well as with civil society and media, actively works towards positive change. By amplifying efforts and continuing to advocate for these important issues, we can collectively contribute to a more just and peaceful world.
Supporting Ukraine and advocating for justice and human rights is the most important stance to take in these times. It’s crucial for individuals and nations to stand on the right side of history when it comes to matters of global significance. One must remember – every voice counts, and collective efforts can make a real impact.
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: Ukraine’s cooperation with North Macedonia has seen significant expansion since the onset of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. One notable example of this expansion is North Macedonia’s swift and unwavering support for Ukraine. For example, North Macedonia were among the first countries to supply heavy weapons.
North Macedonia has consistently aligned itself with the right side of history, staying firmly committed to democratic values. The Macedonian Government has continued to provide us with crucial military assistance and has co-sponsored resolutions in support of Ukraine within the UN General Assembly and various international organizations. An important recent development was Ukraine’s election to the IAEA Executive Committee, made possible with the support of the Republic of North Macedonia.Начало формы
North Macedonia supported creation of the Special Tribunal for the punishment of the crime of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and participates in the activities of the relevant Core Group. I would like to mention that your country supported the decision of the Council of Europe to create an international register of damages to Ukraine as part of a special international compensation mechanism. The joining of the Republic of North Macedonia to the G7 Joint Declaration of support for Ukraine became extremely important.
These actions demonstrate immense support for Ukraine, whose citizens at the cost of their lives defend their own right to live freely and defend the civilizational values. Furthermore, an active political dialogue is ongoing between our two countries, where we’re actively working on updating the legal basis of Ukrainian-Macedonian relations. Recent changes to the Free Trade Agreement will also facilitate bilateral trade relations.
In addition, an active political dialogue is taking place between our two countries. We work on updating legal basis of Ukrainian-Macedonian relation. The recently introduced changes to the Free Trade Agreement will also facilitate bilateral trade relations.
To sum up, we deem North Macedonia as a reliable friend and partner. All the help provided to Ukraine is much appreciated. And since both Ukraine and the Republic of North Macedonia strive to join the European Union, our friendship and partnerships will only strengthen.
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: Ukraine is consistently moving towards full-fledged membership to the European Union and NATO.
0n 22 June 2023, the European Commission made an Oral update on our progress on the implementation of 7 recommendations. The EC notes the significant progress of Ukraine in the reforms.
We accelerated the internal work on implementation of the EU recommendations. Special attention is being paid to judiciary reforms, rights of minorities etc. We are committed to reforms, although their implementation is complicated by the conditions of war.
We hope that positive report of European Commission within the framework of the Enlargement Package 2023 this autumn, as well as political unity of EU Member States will allow making important decision regarding the start of negotiations with Ukraine until the end of 2023.
For Ukraine, it is important to launch the accession negotiations this year in the context of our country’s recovery and the success of the reforms necessary for its reconstruction as these two processes are fully synchronized.
We hope that in the visible future Ukraine and North Macedonia will both become members of the European Union.
CIVIL MEDIA: What are the perspectives of Ukraine to join NATO?
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: I would like to stress that Ukraine’s accession to NATO is inevitable. According to the polls, majority of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine’s membership in NATO is the best way of ensuring stability and security of our country.
At the Vilnius summit last July, the Allies once again confirmed that the future of Ukraine is in NATO. And after the Vilnius summit, Ukraine became closer to NATO than ever.
The timeline depends on many factors. One of them is difference in political views of the member states. Some Allies believe that even a political invitation could lead to the NATO involvement in a direct military conflict with Russia.
We are working closely with NATO countries to reach the consensus on Ukraine’s accession. Consolidated supportive voice of the Allies from Western Balkan countries as the newest NNATO members matters a lot. We appreciate the support that North Macedonia renders to Ukraine in this regard.
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: We see the United Nations as an integral element of international rules-based order. But believe that it needs a deep structural reform. This was demonstrated by the UN’s response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The UN General Assembly adopted several resolutions and sent a strong political signal of condemnation of Moscow’s actions. But the UN Security Council was not able to mitigate this danger or impose tangible punishment on the aggressor state. All that happens because Russia, the aggressor state enjoys a right to veto any decision by this body.
The incompatibility of Russia’s actions with the goals and principles of the UN Charter remains one of the main challenges for the UN. I would also like to stress that Russia took over the membership in the UN Security Council in an illegal manner: essentially it occupied the seat of the Soviet Union in violation of the UN Charter. Therefore, we are convinced that the aggressor state should be deprived of its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and excluded from the UN as a whole.
This task remains a key priority and is part of a broader set of initiatives aimed at comprehensive overhaul of the UN. These envisage the reform of the veto right for permanent members of the Security Council, expansion of its membership and improved methods of conflict prevention and response.
CIVIL MEDIA: What are the prospects for justice to be served against war criminals led by Kremlin?
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: Accountability for core international crimes committed during Russian aggression against Ukraine is one of the priorities of Ukraine under Point 7 “Restoration of Justice” of the Peace Formula of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Today war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during Russia’s war against Ukraine are being investigated by Ukraine and other states, as well as by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The investigation in the International Criminal Court has been supported by 43 States, including North Macedonia.
An important milestone in the process of bringing Russia to justice was made by the ICC. On 17 March 2023 ICC issued arrest warrants for a war crime for Vladimir Putin and his children rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova. They are charged with the war crime of illegal transfer of Ukrainian children.
We are convinced that accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine is the key element of full comprehensive accountability of Russia for all its violations of international law in Ukraine. Perpetrators of the crime of aggression against Ukraine shall not go unpunished.
We are also working on the establishment of a Special Tribunal. A special Core Group on this issue elaborates legal and technical issues on the establishment of a Special Tribunal. Core Group now includes 38 states. We thank North Macedonia for joining the Group.
In addition, in July 2023 started operating the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA). It is a real historic moment, as it is the first international initiative on investigating the crime of aggression after World War II.
So, we understand that the process of bringing Russia and its leadership to justice is complicated and long lasting. But we are sure that some day the Russian rulers and all those who committed crimes against Ukraine and Ukrainians will be punished.
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: Diplomacy in general is the primary tool of statecraft for good reason. Diplomats have averted and ended wars, bolstered human rights, and alleviated human suffering. But not in the case of Russia!
The invasion was rooted in Russia’s imperial past and the green light came from Putin’s desire to reconstitute the Russian empire by destroying Ukrainian identity.
CIVIL MEDIA: Russian diplomacy became one of his tools to implement these crazy plans.
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: The task of Russian diplomats today is to justify a full-scale invasion to Ukraine, the Kremlin’s violation of numerous international norms and rules, and to prevent the expansion of international assistance to Ukraine, especially full-scaled military supplies. I am sure, it will collapse, just like the Russian army and the Putin regime as a whole.
CIVIL MEDIA: What is your message to the world?
YEVHEN PEREBYINIS: For Ukraine, the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are of paramount importance. No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force should never be recognized as legal. Preserving this principle is essential not just for our nation but for the maintenance of a stable and secure international order. Ukraine stands for the equality of all states before international law, regardless of their size or power. If we accept the aggressive behavior of Russia, international relations shall be dominated by the principle “the might makes right”.
For us, Ukrainians, it is obvious that upholding the international law is a fundamental necessity for normal coexistence of societies. Our victory in the war is a victory for the whole world. The full restoration of the territorial integrity of our country and sovereignty, as well as the creation of conditions for the non-repetition of Russian aggression, will allow not only for Europe, but also for states outside our continent to concentrate their efforts on other issues of global importance.
Withdrawal of Russian troops and confirmation of the end of the war will create favorable conditions for general development, including in the Balkans. We see prospects for the development of bilateral relations, and I believe that this will be possible. Comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine will open a new page of development in Europe.
So, my message to the world is simple – support Ukraine, stay on the right side of history.
Introduction and interview: Xhabir Deralla