Alexander Kofman, former minister of foreign affairs of Donetsk People's Republic, in an interview with German journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter, analyses the situation of how European regionalist movements could impact Donbass.
Mr. Kofman, how does Donbass see the events in Catalonia and in Northern Italy where referendums took place?
Unfortunately, I can say already now that Catalonia’s attempt at becoming independent has failed totally. Although I am pretty sure that this is a temporary victory for Spain and that in the near future students will study Barcelona as the capital of a sovereign state. But for now it seems that these times haven’t yet arrived, as mass rallies in support of a united Spain support this notion.
Ochsenreiter and Kofman
In my opinion, the difference between the situation in Catalonia and Northern Italy is that Catalans, instead of holding a referendum on extending regional authorities’ rights, tried straight away to gain independence. In fact, it happened to be the same as in Donbass in 2014.
We demanded federalization that contradicted neither the Constitution, nor international law. Nevertheless, Ukraine preferred to start a punitive operation against its own citizens [2 May in Odessa; 9 May in Mariupol] with the help of illegal nationalist battalions. This step provoked the Donbass people whose patience were tested beyond the limit and that resulted in a referendum on independence.
I would also like to mention that, unlike Catalans who had displayed a more than detached position towards Donbass, representatives of Northern Italy supported us in every possible way. There were a lot of delegations from this region who came to Donbass to express their support and to join our campaign in sharing true and objective information about what was really going on in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
Taking into consideration the procedure of holding referendums in Veneto and Lombardia, I can confidently say that our consultations with political representatives of these regions left an impression. I remember very well how I was trying to prove to our Italian guests that fighting for independence needs a gradual, slow approach, using federalization as a first move.
So, considering the pretty calm reaction of “big” Italy to the proposed referendums and the absence of punitive measures against these regions, I foresee a measure of success regarding their claims for federalization, firstly in economic terms. Thus, Veneto and Lombardia will become richer, more successful and developed and that will inevitably lead to rallies firstly for federalization and then sovereignty in Europe.
While EU politicians and mainstream media expressed at least some understanding for the Catalans, the same media deeply condemned the referendums in Crimea and Donbass in 2014. What is the reason for this different stance in your opinion?
There is a very simple explanation. Unlike Italy and Spain which are subjects of international politics, Ukraine was, is and will only be its object. This means that the Ukrainian state is just a lever and a pain point which is used by the USA and EU in order to exert pressure on the Russian Federation. Therefore, we can expect an inadequate response from most European politicians. At the same time, one should not forget that we are supported by a range of both “left” and “right” European political parties. I am talking about the Zmiana party of Polish politician Mateusz Piskorski, and about the Lega Nord party from Northern Italy and a lot of other political movements. But, unfortunately, in general their background voices are not as loud as we would like them to be.
How do you estimate the situation of national minorities in Ukraine – such as Hungarians, Ruthenes, Romanians and Bulgarians?
Temporarily, their situation is a bit better than that of Russians. Considering that present Ukrainian authorities are trying to flirt with Europe, the above mentioned minorities, although they are of course facing certain troubles and inconveniences, are still supported by Ukraine’s ally, the European Union.
I am sure that this is a temporary situation. As soon as purely radical and nationalist movements become authorities in Ukraine, everything will change…for the worse, regarding these minorities.
How is the situation in DPR and LPR right now? How do you see the chances that the independence project will be successful at the end and that both republics will no longer be internationally isolated?
I am sure that if our goal had been the independence of our small territory, we would probably have achieved better results in terms of international acceptance. But our mission is, at least, the liberation of territories within the administrative borders of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Let me remind you, that a referendum on state sovereignty was held across entire the region.
Our main task is the liberation of the whole of Ukraine from an openly pro-Nazi government which illegally seized power in Kiev. This is the main difference between us and Catalonia or Northern Italy. Fortunately, they don’t have such a problem. And, in my opinion, liberated from a pro-Nazi junta, Kiev would be a much more interesting collocutor in the international arena than the present one.
Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.