We were fully aware of the pain the Ukraine has long been enduring, the worsening of the conflict regarding the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the hopes and disappointments following international mediation efforts. But beyond the political and diplomatic efforts – both European and Italian – of recent months, and some newspaper headlines, that pain and those hundreds of deaths in battle were, for many, something very far away, confined to the eastern outskirts of Europe.
The downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane has given this tragedy a new dimension, a bit similarly to September 11, 2001. It has made it global, something the world shares in. Shared with equal force has been the response of recent hours; one of anger and condemnation for an intolerable act that, as Italians, strikes us once again with the death of two Italo-Dutch persons, after the murder in May of Andy Rochelli. It has also made it political, with a UN Security Council resolution calling for an international inquest, and the EU decision to strengthen sanctions against anyone that supports the East Ukraine separatists. A decision to which Italy contributed, as it has to all those of recent months, and that was unanimous.
July the 17th was a watershed, and nothing will ever be as it was. So many of us hoped that this tragedy would have led to the courage and political will to honour those dead in the best way possible: with the immediate silencing of the weapons in the eastern region of that nation, and the start of negotiations. This has not happened, at least not thus far, and I consider this a mistake that history will not forgive those who are making it.
Russia has publicly ensured their willingness to negotiate on various occasions over recent months, in Geneva and, most recently, in Berlin a few weeks ago. But they have not backed that pledge with concrete action, and the results are now there for all to see. I do not believe that any further undertaking of this sort, under these conditions, will be any more successful. What is missing, what has been missing all along, is consistency between those declared intentions and concrete deeds.
Everyone has witnessed the separatists’ reaction to the Malaysia flight tragedy. It is time for Russia to use their influence to ensure full access to the area, respect for the pain and anguish of those who have lost their loved ones, the launch of a reliable inquest and an immediate ceasefire.
Meeting between Mogherini and Vladimir Putin
A decisive moment.Too many wasted opportunities and too many mistakes; nevertheless, Ukraine has undertaken the difficult path toward political stabilisation. I was in Kiev a few days before becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs, and I returned two weeks ago, having chosen to make my first official visit after the launch of the Italian EU Presidency there, and then went on to Moscow. Much has changed in Kiev at political level over the past five months. Presidential elections were held on 25 May, despite uncertainties, and a Constitutional review has been launched; but also with regard to the separatists, with President Poroshenko’s peace plan and the support for the OSCE mission deployment; and in relations with the European Union, with the signing of the Association Agreement that we hope will soon be ratifiedby the Ukrainian parliament.
Meanwhile, on the ground and in the air over Ukraine, the situation remains terrible. We owe a debt of justice those many, too many, dead Ukrainians and citizens of other distant places. That is why we have decided to send a strong and unified signal from an EU that is often admonished for being too weak on foreign policy. A strong and unified signal that we all hope will finally convince Moscow to bridge the untenable gap between declared intentions and concrete choices.