Tuesday, the 7th of February became a “day of horror” to the German Embassy. Diplomats extinguished the fire in bilateral relations that broke through the interview of Ambassador Ernst Reichel throughout the day.
The ambassador’s press conference was canceled; Ukrainian politicians announced boycott; the reception was held without many guests … Finally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador for the explanation of his words.
But despite all the outcry, the ambassador, to our knowledge, did not realize what his mistake was.
Ambassador’s statements certainly are important, because his words coincide with the position of some German politicians, but not with everybody’s position.
German Ambassador Ernst Reichel is a fairly new player in the diplomatic corps of Ukraine. However, the very first of his statements have caused surprise in the expert and diplomatic communities.
The most notable was the ambassador’s statement in December, at the presentation of the study “Audit of foreign policy.” His words about the fact that Ukraine should enter the commercial loan market rather than seek for financial support from Western partners provoked public outrage.
At this meeting the ambassador also expressed thoughts about the elections in Donbas, but they remained in the shadow of allegations of “Marshall Plan”. Perhaps, that was the reason why the diplomat even did not think that his position on the election can cause such a reaction. Moreover, the ambassador remained convinced that he became an object of attack by the Ukrainian media.
German expert’s comment on Ernst Reichel’s statements
The German Government’s position is that the conflict in Donbas may be terminated only through negotiations. The main channel for this is the “Norman format”, and the main document – the Minsk agreements. Statements of Ambassador of Germany in Ukraine Ernst Reichel, of course, are within these broad parameters. Such an opinion was expressed by Joerg Forbrig, Senior Program Officer at German Marshall Fund in Berlin.
However, the statements of Ambassador Reichel are inappropriate, especially when the fighting intensified again in Donbas, when soldiers are killed and the local population is suffering from a humanitarian crisis. In this situation, the absolute priority must be a cease-fire. Even the Minsk agreements contain a cessation of hostilities as a starting point. Talking about elections in this serious situation is clearly cynical, since none of the measures required to resolve the situation in Donbas has been implemented.
Comparison with the last elections in the GDR is completely ahistorical. Those elections took place after the Soviet Union canceled the Brezhnev doctrine. [Brezhnev doctrine – the principle of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy on the Eastern European countries that were within the “Soviet influence sphere” after World War II based on the results of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1945. It claimed the exclusive right of the USSR to intervene in the internal affairs of the Eastern bloc, including the use of military force to prevent any political changes in them].
Moscow made it clear that it would not interfere with the internal development of its former satellites. It effectively stopped its troops in East Germany. Russian troops and mercenaries are present in Donbas because Moscow actually revived the Brezhnev doctrine. After the Revolution of Dignity Ukraine embarked on an independent path of development, and the Kremlin resorted to military intervention to bring it back under its control.
According to the expert, such statements are unlikely to foster trust in Ukrainians to their Western partners. On the contrary, they confirm the widespread fear that Germany and France do not fully support Ukraine as a victim of the Russian war.
The Ambassador in his statements clearly crossed the “red lines” repeatedly demonstrated by Ukraine and did not take into account developments in recent years.
Ukraine has already experienced a pseudo referendum held at Russian gun points in Crimea and fake “elections” in the so-called “DPR” and “LPR.” That is why it is grateful to the world for non-recognition of their results. At least in this regard the world took our side without hesitation.
Therefore, the suggestions of our Western partners on the new elections of this kind on the partially occupied territories, even with “partial withdrawal of Russian troops” mentioned by the ambassador in his interview, could not be perceived impartially in Kyiv.
Words weigh. Especially – the words of a diplomat and ambassador. It could not be otherwise.
Embassy is not a place for boycott
The German ambassador’s statement certainly deserves an adequate response. For example, one should never put indignities upon him pointing out his mistake. The calls for a boycott made on Tuesday in the Parliament are also questionable.
The supporters of this approach made an analogy between Ernst Reichel’s statement and the infamous article written by oligarch Viktor Pinchuk. However, the ambassador differs much from the oligarch. Pinchuk represents only himself or the foundation of his name – at the most, whereas Reichel represents the state, the friendly one.