Igor Boțan: Budapest Memorandum would have been very important if those who signed it had considered it binding

The Budapest Memorandum would have been very important if those who signed it and also the international community had considered the fulfillment of the clauses it contains as binding, the permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan stated in a public debate titled “Failure of the Budapest Memorandum”.

According to the expert, signing official documents with Russia means that the weaker state assumes obligations to respect them, and Russia actually assumes the right to revise them and find all kinds of pretexts to violate them when it suits it.

The expert does not share the idea that Ukraine and Ukrainian officials were not aware of the dangers associated with signing the memorandum. He believes they were aware, but the pressure on Ukraine was great, and Ukraine appropriately estimated the potential to maintain its nuclear arsenal and, under the pressure of external influences, was forced to sign this memorandum.

According to Igor Boțan, in 1993 already, there was the “Separatist International” that included the so-called Republic of Crimea and this as an instrument of pressure on the Ukrainian authorities. After the memorandum was signed, the problem with the status of Crimea was resolved. From the start, the Russian Federation used the weapon of separatism so that, at the right time, these conflicts would be thawed and used in the interests of the Russian Federation.

The expert reminded of the moment Finland and Sweden expressed their willingness to become NATO members. According to him, as long as these countries considered that there was an international balance between the responsible states, they could remain neutral. When Russia took aggressive action, these countries understood that it was a wave that Russia was using in its favor. The two countries openly reconsidered their attitude towards neutrality. No one guarantees the security of these countries with their neutrality status anymore. It is convenient to be neutral when you are surrounded by friendly states and if somewhere there are states that can pose a threat, you can resort to the status of neutrality because you have a belt of friendly states around.

According to him, Moldova, despite its status of neutrality, with very modest potential that does not pose a danger to anyone, must take care of its own security because there is a real danger in the neighborhood.

The expert also referred to some of the provisions of the Budapest Memorandum, which are six in number. Thus, the U.S., Russia and the UK pledged to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and existing borders. Subsequently, this guarantee was brutally violated, with Russia’s argument that a coup was staged in Ukraine.

Another assurance was that the guarantor parties will refrain from economic constraints with the intention of subordinating to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to obtain advantages of any kind. According to Igor Boțan, the post-Soviet countries were closely linked economically to the Russian Federation and such guarantees had to be included in such a document so that Russia would not use its economic potential against Ukraine. Later, everyone became convinced that this assurance had also been circumvented.

The public debate entitled “Failure of the Budapest Memorandum” was the 27th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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