As the leaders of France, Germany and Italy arrive in Kiev and the EU prepares to decide on Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate, there is a renewed focus on what makes the country’s western neighbors the fastest and easiest route to peace. regard. New poll reported in The Times newspaper revealed that most Europeans would be ready to concede territorial losses in Ukraine to bring the conflict to an end quickly.
A survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has found a huge gap “between those who want to end the war as soon as possible and those who want Russia punished,” according to Mark Leonard, the ECFR’s director .
On the other hand, research reported by The Conversation found that most Ukrainians are unwilling to cede territory and most want to reclaim those territories occupied by Russia or pro-Russian forces since 2014. A path to peace seems as far away as ever. But at the same time, thinking about ways to reach a comprehensive peace agreement can help the various role players – even Russia – see the bigger picture and the benefits of the commitment to a negotiated settlement.
A useful principle in peace talks is to anchor proposals on objective criteria – solutions that have worked before or in different conflicts. This could include peace agreements reached after decades of extensive negotiations elsewhere or key proposals by UN mediators, including Security Council resolutions where Russia (or the Soviet Union) and the West have explicitly come together to propose peace agreements. Here are some ways in which a comprehensive peace package can help all sides rebalance their priorities.
Ukraine’s rapid EU accession
Ukraine must be offered unconditional / preferential terms for EU accession within the next five to ten years. To support Ukraine’s immediate needs, most benefits on trade, aid and free movement can be applied immediately as part of a proposed peace plan. Free movement will also help displaced families to reunite. The return of refugees from other countries will be made easier if victims are not afraid of losing their current refugee status when they visit their home communities to evaluate their options.
Russian gas and oil levy to finance reconstruction
A levy could be placed on part of Russia’s revenue from oil and gas exports to make it politically feasible for EU countries to resume energy imports. It is not seen primarily as a tariff, but, from the Russian perspective, as an insurance policy for a restored relationship with the West after a peace agreement is signed. For Ukraine, it will effectively fund its reconstruction and support victims of war. A 20% increase in gas and oil imports from Russia for 30 years could reach around € 400 billion (£ 345 billion).
Along with other contributions (including state and corporate donors), a global € 500 billion reconstruction fund in Ukraine can support and compensate displaced persons with (a minimum of € 100,000 per displaced household in line with previous European Court decisions for Human rights).
3. Territorial decentralization
Territory will be the most difficult issue to reach on an agreement – especially when it comes to the future of Crimea. Precedents in similarly complex situations included elements of involvement without recognition, meaning actors would cooperate, but without formally acknowledging the status of Crimea.
De facto co-sovereignty can restore economic ties with Ukraine, modeled in a similar way to the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In Crimea’s case, it will include dual citizenship and free travel and trade, as well as the principle of consent – for example, Crimean people being given the option to rejoin Ukraine in a future referendum.
Donetsk and Luhansk can achieve an autonomous status that will be negotiated with interim ad hoc status over the next five years, common among unrecognized entities that do not have diplomatic status but are still involved in peace negotiations, as in Kosovo. In addition, the model proposed for surrounding municipalities is that they be allowed to join new Donetsk and Luhansk regions once the autonomous status has been agreed (Spain, for example, has historically engaged in a creative process in forming its constituent units that municipalities involved in decision-making and, in some cases, even local referendums).
4. Inclusive management model
Management discussions should mainly include three main areas. First, gender quotas in peace talks, government positions and the Supreme Court are in line with the UN’s landmark resolution on women, peace and security. Second, extensive autonomy for Ukrainian and Russian language groups in areas such as education and culture, which even makes Ukraine officially bilingual according to Canada’s model. Third, a more inclusive political system.
It can either set up a presidential system where presidents (and vice-presidents) are explicitly encouraged to appeal to constituencies in both East and West. Either it could include a parliamentary system that determines cabinet quotas for ethnic communities (as in Belgium)) or use a liberal power-sharing formula (as in Northern Ireland), based on party strength thus circumventing the “ethnic quota problem”.
5. Security and policing
The key to security is the identification of countries that are acceptable to both sides to support a UN peacekeeping mission with extensive powers such as in Bosnia that involves significant intervention and arbitration powers. Ukraine should be able to arm itself as it sees fit – but, as in previous UN precedents, it must accept a period of demilitarization of territories handed over by Russia.
At the local level, a peace agreement could establish a mixed police force, along the lines established in Northern Ireland, while at regional level, an East-West Cooperation and Security Council should be established representing NATO, Ukraine, the EU and Russia. involve.
Road to peace
This is a general template of what a comprehensive peace settlement might look like that includes credible guarantees for implementation that most analysts have hitherto considered unattainable.
In addition to ideas drawn at the diplomatic level, citizen-led proposals, regional expertise and public opinion polls – especially those that can more precisely identify what kind of peace and considerations citizens can endorse – should further guide this discussion.
This will enable leaders – and the Ukrainian public – to evaluate the overall benefits and commitments generated by a comprehensive agreement.