“Parliamentary diplomacy is virtually the only tool that allows us to interact with any country,” said the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Korniienko, opening a meeting with the heads of the inter-parliamentary cooperation groups of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on “Priorities of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Interparliamentary mechanisms of cooperation”.

The event was attended by members of the Ukrainian parliament who head specialised committees and groups of friendship with other countries. Among them were Oleksandr Merezhko, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, and Arsenii Pushkarenko, the Deputy Chairman of this Committee, Yehor Chernev, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defence and Intelligence, Oleksandr Kachura, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on State Building, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, the Chairman of the Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union, and others. The discussion was also joined by representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine: the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mykola Tochytskyi, the Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Oleksandra Azarkhina and the Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anton Korynevych.

The participants of the meeting discussed the mechanisms of cooperation in a number of important issues related to Euro-Atlantic perspectives, work at the inter-parliamentary level with a focus on the war in Ukraine, the reconstruction of Ukrainian territories and current directions of Ukraine’s foreign policy.

One of the main tasks of the broad discussion is to convey important messages in order to achieve common results, Oleksandr Korniienko stressed. These include Ukraine’s membership in NATO, expectations of clear decisions from the Vilnius Summit, the deportation of Ukrainian children, the establishment of an international special tribunal, the further imposition of sanctions, and support for President Zelenskyi’s peace formula.

“The main actions include inviting MPs from other countries to Ukraine. This allows us to feel and learn about the situation here in Ukraine differently and discuss Ukrainian issues in a more substantive way with greater understanding on their part,” the First Vice Speaker said.

Without parliamentary diplomacy, it is unlikely that all diplomacy would be complete, said the Deputy Foreign Minister Mykola Tochytskyi. According to him, in any country, it is the legislative body that balances various political statements. Therefore, there are high expectations of parliamentarians. The official noted: “On the eve of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, we have our own hopes, the vision of our permanent partners, and there are sceptics.” “Of course, it would be important for us that Ukrainian diplomacy pursues two main elements – clear wording on future membership and security guarantees,” he stressed. The official identified the number one task for Ukrainian parliamentarians on international platforms as maintaining the progress of our Euro-Atlantic aspirations and getting as close as possible to the date when we will have a clear prospect of joining NATO.

“Despite the war, we are doing a lot to reform and get closer to NATO standards,” said Yehor Chernev, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defence and Intelligence, “and we will continue to reform”. The MP also drew attention to the fact that, as a result of russia’s disinformation campaign, many countries now believe that Ukraine could bring war to the Alliance. “There is also an obvious counterargument to this question – russia attacks grey areas, non-aligned countries. And we have our own experience of this history,” he says.

Oleksandra Azarkhina, the Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, spoke about the difficulties of negotiations related to the reconstruction of our country. “We need to see reconstruction as a consequence of victory,” she said, “but reconstruction is also one of the conditions for victory. From this perspective, people really think about our economic capacity and their own interests.” However, this issue is also closely linked to the security component, the official says, because we have to give guarantees that the assets that will be invested in our country will be preserved.

Anton Korynevych, the Ambassador at Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke about the current directions of foreign policy. “The President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s peace formula includes a clause on accountability and justice. This is one of its main elements,” he said. “We cannot talk about peace without taking responsibility for all violations of international law committed by russia as a state. At the same time, he said, every russian citizen who has committed an international crime must also bear individual criminal responsibility. And in these two areas, the responsibility must be full and comprehensive. Anton Korynevych expressed hope that the International Centre for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine will be launched in The Hague in late June or early July. He also noted that this is the first international attempt to investigate the crime of aggression since World War II: “These are milestone decisions that we could not even think about a year ago.”

Arsenii Pushkarenko, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, summarising the meeting, said: “Without the prospect of NATO membership, peace in Ukraine is impossible, as well as security stability in Eastern Europe and the continent as a whole.” He also mentioned the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the EU, which is expected to take place in the second half of this year, as one of the main priorities. “We have clear tasks,” the MP stressed, “These include security guarantees, NATO membership, arms supplies, the establishment of an international tribunal, sanctions policy, reparations, and reconstruction. It is parliamentary mechanisms that allow us to promote these important things in the international arena and achieve success,” the MP concluded.

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