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Interviews > March 10, 1999

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The Ukrainian Bar Association in Odessa
Союз юристов Украины > Всемирная ассоциация юристов

The 1999 year has a special meaning for FRG. There is 50th years since the day, when it was formed on May 23th. Besides, the period of FRG presiding at European Union since January 1, 1999 is coinciding with the time of important historical events. One of them is an introduction of common currency in EU. Its a significant step forward in the process of the Pan-European integration. Dr. Oliver SHNAKENBERG, a Consul of the Germany Embassy in Ukraine, has kindly agreed to answer the questions on main issues and further perspectives of FRG cooperation with the Ukraine.

Mr. Consul, the latest pages of German history are connected with destroying of the Berlin Wall. What was a process of the unification like for German Nation?

The Berlin Wall, which had existed for near 30 years, was a symbol of the dismembered on two parts bleeding people. The postwar German history has reflected sufferings of relatives and friends lived on different sides of the Wall, the pain of unclosed wound in the Central Europe. When the Wall was destroyed, Western and Eastern Germans were overfilled by feelings of boundless gladness and happiness. It was the event not only for us, but for all free Europe “breaked the shackles”.

The process of unification was connected with destroying of the ideological borders. Probably, it was painful one, wasn’t it?

From ideological point of view, the task of German unification has been solved positively. In spite of what Eastern and Western Germans were under influence of different systems for a long time, they are a single nation. We both have common centuries old customs and traditions. Our mentality could not be destroyed during a few decades. Therefore after the downfall of “Iron Curtain” GDR was joined to FRG on the base of wide support of the Eastern Germans and voluntary decision of its Parliament.

Can we consider the German unification as some laboratory of the integration of two different systems?

I think, we can’t. The situation, when two different systems are merging has nothing to do with Germany. I our case, FRG law order was extended over GDR territory. All of the state organs in GDR had functioned for some time on the base of transition regulations. Afterwards they where all dismissed. The German unification includes also economic and social ones, which have to be considered through prism of the political unification. However, undoubtedly Germany has gained the invaluable experience of integration and transformation, which can be useful for Ukraine.

Is the political unification going on?

Yes, because it isn’t a process of one day. Probably, you have heard, that the German Parliament - Bundestag has already started to work in Berlin at former building of the Reichstag, which was completely reequiped and repaired. More then 50 years passed since the last session of Parliament took a place there. The fact of Parliament sitting in Berlin is an important step forward in the process of Germans drawing together. Before that our Federal President came in Berlin. A think that transfer the most important state institutions to Berlin was the most principal political decision maked in 1991. When it is fulfilled, well be able to consider the phase of political unification as complete one.

How much is the economic unification successful?

The functioning of some fields of production of the soviet economy has led to unreversible ecological consequences. However, the most of economic branches were saved thanks to the direct investments from Western Germany. Milliards of marks were monthly needed for the reestablishment of Eastern Germany economy. The process is lasting today too.

What way are decisions on questions on expropriate property making in?

Well, the problem is enough complex and complicated. Bundestag has adopted different laws. They have nothing to do with the property expropriated by former soviet authorities in 1945-1949, because the Soviet Union has made it one of conditions of its agreement on the unification. Concerning the property expropriated by German authorities after 1949, these affairs must be settled in court. On condition that the property cannot be given back, its owner has a right only on the compensation.

There is an opinion that European Union demands the integration on the level of human mentality. What do yon think on the possibility of Ukrainian people’s and EU citizens, integration as the one of their “thoughts”?

I want to note that he Ukraine is taking the course of rapprochement with the European structures. There is the Program which contains clear points on partnership and cooperation with EU. As to the further course to the West, Ukraine has a clear perspective. This purpose can be achieved by Ukraine on condition that the agreements on partnership signed with EU will be precisely fulfilled. However, the entry of Ukraine into EU is not in agenda as yet. The Ukraine has to do its ‘homework’. It is necessary for Ukraine to achieve at least the minimum European standards not only in economic and political spheres but also in law one.

Can the Ukraine neighborhood with the countries taking part in different military blocks and the presence of Russian military bases on Ukrainian territory have any influence upon geopolitical situation in the Eastern Europe?

The Ukraine is an independent sovereign state and it must make its decisions by itself. The Ukraine knows very well that it is necessary to live in peace with its neighbors. I am sure, the Ukraine will continue its policy on integration with the West and its going along the path of intensive friendly relations with Russia. As far as i know, the Ukraine has no intention to become a member of the NATO in the near future. Both the Ukraine and Russia supports special relations with the NATO. Therefore I don’t find any contradictions here.

What do you think on whether the state can be independent if it is a debtor?

I think, every state must be responsible for its actions. Both the Ukraine and Russia are large debtors of the western structures. They had a right to decide the question whether they needed credits or not. The situation is worse, when credits are not given back. In that case the economic sanctions can be applied. However, they are too rigid and unpopular measures. The only pledge of Ukraine intentions to repay debts to the West is its successive advancement to the market economy, because the base of repayment of the debts and of the economic growth can be only income from production. It can be important to develop the transport corridors and the main oil pipelines as, for example, the oil pipeline Odessa - Broody which is being built now (to pump the early Caspian oil from tankers to Europe).

What is your opinion on what factors have negative influence on the development of Ukraine economy?

I can give you my opinion on this question. I had lived in Ukraine for nearly three years. I think, one of the factors having negative influence on the development of your economy is corruption of all of the authority structures. Corruption was also there before 1991. Certainly, that process made the new combination of economic and political interests. At the present moment corruption is one of the largest problems for the Ukraine, because it causes damage to the Ukraine authority in the world.

Could you comment on a recent scandal connected with EU members corruption after which all its leadership resigned?

Well, certainly, the corruption exists in larger or smaller degree in all countries. I would not want to draw a parallel with European Commission mentioned by you. The Commission has accepted responsibility for that incident. But before that the special control commission found that no one of the European Commission members had not put money in own pocket. To end the theme. I would say that corruption is a phenomenon existing in all countries. But it doesn`t mean that this phenomenon was given by God and that we must make peace with it.

In Germany the program “Agenda - 2000” has started. What are its purposes?

This is a program for EU. Its main principle is to coordinate the process of further integration with good purposes of the admittance of new members to EU. It`s clearly for all of the EU members, that reforms are necessary. The government of united Germany aspires to liquidate the high percent of unemployment. It tries to make Germany yet more attractive for investments. I think, Germany is going the right way in deciding of these problems.

From political point of view the question connected with abolition of execution is not already discussed. What do you think on is the acting of European Court of Human Rights a defense of human rights or an intervention in internal affairs of the state?

It’s absolutely right, the question on abolition of execution is clear now. It isn’t even worth to be a hint at issue and to adduce all reasons for it or against it. When the Ukraine entered the council of the Europe it accepted the responsibility to liquidate the execution. Who wants to enter the Club, he must observe its rules. If the Ukraine is a member of Council of the Europe and if its government has recognized the obligatory jurisdiction of the European Court of human rights, the acting of the European Court of human rights doesn’t mean the intervention into inner affairs of the state.

I’d like to ask you on military conflict in Yugoslavia. What do you think about the statement that if in 1991 M.Gorbachov had insisted on Germany going out the NATO as one of the conditions of its unification, the military conflict would have been avoided?

I don’t want to take a part in such speculations, but. I want to give my opinion on the problem. When the unification took place, that question was not brought up. M. Gorbachov was agree with Germany belonging to NATO. Now Germany is taking part in common politics of the NATO as a sovereign state. All of the democratic lawful states united by the NATO have pledged themselves to observe the principles of democracy and human rights. As to Yugoslavia, the states which are members of the NATO took the difficult after the political situation reached such bound, when mentioned political principals demanded the support by power means. Not only minutemen states - members of the NATO but all of the seven states neighboring to Serbia have entirely come to the same opinion. Id like to ask yon, whether so many states are able to make mistakes. All of them are of the opinion that the politics of ethnic persecution against Albanians in Cosovo . was started yet in March, 1998. It was impossible to allow the dictator to continue his criminal politics. The diplomats are sparing no efforts and. I am sure that soon they will solve the problem and so long - awaited peace will come.

This year a few German official delegations will arrive to the Ukraine. What preparations are being made by embassy in connection with the future visits?

This year a few visit on the top level have already taken a place. The visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs within the framework of the EU was multilateral. Within the framework of the Department of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs our Federal President has visited in Ukraine. But the most important event for us will take a place on July, 8-9 when the General Chancellor with a great number of the main ministers are going to arrive. The embassy has taken the whole preparation of the future summit upon itself. It is necessary to coordinate the dates of talks and to prepair in detail the program for members of the delegation, representatives of the press and accompanying persons. The embassy has to make a lot of affords in connection with this visit. We pursue an important objective that between the Ukraine and Germany governments the talks on all of present - day themes will take a place.

Not long ago the third F. Martens international competition on international humanitarian law organized by International Committee of Red Grass took a place. The Ukraine was presented by the team of Odessa State Juridical Academy. The Jury gave a high mark to our students` level. What would you like to wish Ukrainian youth?

I think, that it is necessary to take a place in such actions. I`d like you to be inspired by myself to continue studying. It is always important to be able to see some further than your nose. Let young people who are now students including future lawyers piously believe in ideals of democracy and defend human rights.

Thank you for the talk.

*The interview was prepared by Sergei MAXIMENKO.


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