Recent years are not the best years in the history of the Russian-Ukrainian relations. Actually there are lots of problems, and they are rather well-known. They include unsettled “gas problem”, Ukrainian aspirations to NATO, relationships with respect to the WTO, “persecutions” of the Russian language, etc. This forum was organized as a platform to promote public cooperation between the two countries.
The conference in the Russian capital is already the second one. The first conference was held in Kiev last September. That time the agenda was devoted to the need to facilitate regular meetings. This forum adopted a number of important provisions for development of interstate and interregional relationships. The sponsors invited leading politicians, businessmen and scientists of both countries to the roundtable. They discussed the problems of political cooperation, economic ties and public interaction.
The conference was opened by Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Eugeny Velikhov, Secretary of the Russian Public Chamber, and Academician of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences Vladimir Seminozhenko, Leader of Public and Political Movement “Ukrainian Forum”. At the very beginning all attendees got data of the most recent public opinion survey on the relations between the two countries conducted early in February in 26 regions of the Ukraine.
The data confirmed that there is a basis for closer cooperation between Moscow and Kiev. The majority of Ukrainians speak in favor of active cooperation with Russia. In spite of a stage of cooling and certain energy collisions the public basis of the relationships is strengthening. According to the survey, 86 per cent of the Ukrainian citizens believe that the neighborly relations with Russia are important for the Ukrainian state while 76.4 per cent of the respondents are sure that these relations are important not only for the state but also for their private life. Besides, the respondents said that the official policy of the Russian Federation towards the Ukraine is friendly (60.3 per cent of the respondents are sure that for Russia the Ukraine is “a friendly country” and “strategic partner”). 61.6 per cent of the respondents said that both countries are interested in stable Russian-Ukrainian relations. And only 2.9 per cent of the citizens believe that the Ukraine is hostile to Russia. Meanwhile, more than a half of the respondents negatively assessed the dynamics of the interstate relations. In their opinion, this year they radically deteriorated. Unfortunately, their opinion is true.
The attendees of this conference focused on the development of civil society. As quoted to Academician Velikhov, lately the world has become more “horizontal” and “flat”. The role of public relationships is increasing. Relationships not only between official state institutions but also between citizens and organizations of different countries. The stronger and closer these relations, the easier the solution of the global geopolitical and strategic problems. The public chambers are established to this end. Politicians are not always in position to reach an agreement due to various reasons. Regardless of either personal or official difficulties, the modern society is built so that neither of the problems moreover the problems of the state level may concern only one or two men.
Russia and Ukraine are connected not only with a gas pipeline or official Summit protocols. They are not only neighbors but brother countries. Economic interests and benefits should not affect the ties that connect hundreds of thousands of relatives on both sides of the border. No need to exacerbate already rather strained relations by speculations on NATO, Crimea, URA or “Holodomor”. Each state official should be aware of a resonance that may be generated by his words.
Political analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov spoke vivdly about the Russian-Ukrainian relations. Addressing the conference he said: “ We are branches of the same tree, the tree of the Great East Christian Civilization. We have a huge common history.” Nikonov specially emphasized the need to solve a problem of common customs space with the Ukraine that is still pending. He stressed that today both countries have good opportunities for powerful technological breakthrough because both Russia and Ukraine are on the upswing. “I believe that we have already completely discussed the negative agenda of our relations, today it is a high time to generate a positive one,” Vyacheslav Nikonov said.
Vice President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Igor Yurghens aired certain figures confirming that the economic relations with the Ukraine gradually improve. According to him, last year the commodity turnover between the two countries increased by 20 per cent. However, Yurghens noted that membership of the Ukraine in the WTO may cause deterioration of its relations with Russia.
There were many communications at the forum. During the two hours of the roundtable the attendees have discussed cooperation in the fuel and energy sphere, spoken about initially difficult but promising cooperation in aircraft- and spacecraft-building, machine-building, space exploration, nanotechnologies, development of information society, education and other spheres.
Finally, the forum made a decision to suggest to the authorities establishing Russian-Ukrainian consortia and corporations in the most promising spheres of cooperation. The representatives of the RF Public Chamber and “Ukrainian Forum” did not forget also sports achievements of the two countries. They called for cooperation at the conduct of Olympic Games-2014 in Sochi and Football Championship-2012 in the Ukraine. They also approved a new schedule of their meetings. Now, politicians, public men and businessmen of both countries will deal with the current challenges not less seldom that twice a year. Moscow and Kiev will host the forum in rotation.