The World Economic Forum, a gathering of key world politicians and businessmen, took place in Davos, Switzerland. Hromadske spoke to former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, known for his strong support of Ukraine, about the Minsk Agreements, Trump’s relations to Russia and cyber security.
At this moment, there is a bit of confusion about what is happening next. There are some articles in Ukraine appearing about some possible concessions of Russia. That maybe when there is Trump getting along well with Putin, Ukraine should think to give up something. Also there was Victor Pinchuk’s article on possible neutrality without NATO and the EU. In your opinion, in this situation, is this kind of position a real compromise? Is this really a discussion that can go somewhere?
I think there is a compromise, and you can call it painful if you want to. That is, of course, the Minsk agreements. The Minsk agreement is a compromise. And there is a question of implementing that. That has been a very difficult process. But I think step-by-step, it is important to insist on implementing the Minsk agreements. I fail to see that you can change very much in that one. That would not be interesting for Kyiv or for Moscow. And it has strong support from the European Union.
Question is not only in Minsk agreements, but rather than to postpone the discussion on Crimea, but when talking to Russia, maybe not mention Ukraine and possible NATO and EU aspirations.
Everyone recognizes that Crimea is a long-term issue. The position of international community is very clear. It is not only the question of what the EU or Angela Merkel think, it is the question of the decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations on sustaining territorial integrity and that certainly includes Crimea. From the EU perspective, there is the Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement (DCFTA), which is a step which will take quite some time to implement. What’s going to be the step after that? Let’s discuss that when that time comes. But I think that the European perspective should be absolutely open. NATO is a separate issue; it’s more complicated.
Another concern is Trump’s relations with Russia. There is panic in the way it sounds sometimes. What would be your assessment of the situation?
Trump is the third American president who wants to start by reasserting relationships with Russia. The problem is that Mr. Putin has not been reasserting relationships. That means that so far, these attempts have failed. I think there will be a new phase now of trying to come to an understanding between Russia and the US. That’s going to focus primarily on Syria; that will be the focus of talks between Moscow and Washington. Whether they can make some progress there remains to be seen. I think that Ukraine primarily will still be an issue for Berlin.
You write and you research cyberwarfare. Hacking has become the main thing. Russia has been accused. To what extent do you think it’s an overhyped issue?
I don’t think it is much of a surprise for Ukraine or for Swedes, because we’ve been living with these things for quite some time. It was a surprise to Americans, that they were affected as well.
Hromadske’s Nataliya Gumenyuk spoke to former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 19th, 2017.