President: State strategy on reintegration of Donbas and Crimea must include transparency, consensus, realism and implementation of decisions

After five years of war in eastern Ukraine, a state strategy for the safe reintegration of Donbas and Crimea must finally emerge. It should include four compulsory components. It was stated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a speech at the opening of the Unity Forum in Mariupol.

The Head of State noted that the components of that strategy would be presented and discussed at the forum.

“This is our vision that is widely discussed. Discussions to improve it. Why? Because, again, international experience testifies to this. In order for everything to work properly, for the case of peace to be successful, the state strategy should include four mandatory components,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

One of these components is transparency and publicity. The President emphasized that the state should explain its steps and find the right ways together with civil society, initiate a large-scale national dialogue.

“It is about the fate of the state. We have never been in such situations. So, I am sure no politician, expert or public activist can boast of a successful experience here and no one has the right to say: “Only I know what is right, only my vision is right”. We need to hear each other and keep a cool head resolving all the pressing issues, such as pension payments or trade blockade, not using political slogans, but putting the interests of Ukraine and its citizens first,” the Head of State noted.

The Head of State emphasized that under those conditions the second component of the state strategy – consensus – would emerge. Ukrainian society must agree on a way to regain control of Donbas and Crimea, as sociology demonstrates that society has different views as regards the given issue.

“There will never be the only solution that will satisfy everyone. But we have to find an option that will be approved by the vast majority. Society must understand and agree with the conditions of reintegration of Donbas and Crimea, with the principles of transitional justice. The lack of common vision paralyzes our movement,” the President said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that the emergence of a common vision is now hindered by fear. For example, some people in the controlled area are afraid of the alleged amnesty of militants, the preservation of a “gray” criminalized zone or the return of Donbas and Crimea on the terms of the Russian Federation, which is equal to capitulation. At the same time, ordinary people on the other side of the delimitation line are intimidated by vengeance, aggressive linguistic and cultural obtrusion, discrimination.

“Why do these fears exist? First of all, we understand that this is Russian propaganda that began many years ago. As well as partial manipulations in the Ukrainian information space,” he said.

The President is convinced that under such conditions the state should pursue a systematic information policy and the media should educate and increase media literacy.

The third integral part of the state reintegration strategy is realism. The President stressed that the idea of a quick and easy return of the occupied territories by military means was erroneous.

“It is important to realize that tomorrow all people in the occupied territories of Donbas will not start speaking Ukrainian. We should not delude ourselves with all these illusions. We should not hope that everything will happen by the wave of the hand. We must be realistic and not be afraid of the truth, no matter how bitter it may be,” he stressed.

According to the President, the last component of the strategy is the ability of the state to implement the plan.

“The real steps and results, not Facebook stories of success. We can adopt 10 strategies of national unity, but without real action, we will never implement any of them,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The President said that not only language and historical past, but also values were a solid foundation for national unity. These include, in particular, the values of freedom, democracy, civil society and the rule of law, decent living standards, goodness, tolerance, good manners, decency, respect for the law, private property and one another.