Marian: China, Global South states’ presence at weekend Ukraine talks “crucial”

Jan Marian

Czechia was among 40 states attending a meeting in Saudi Arabia at the weekend focused on a possible settlement of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Also present were China, India and Brazil, which has been seen by some as a sign of progress. Czechia’s representative at the consultations was Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Marian and I spoke to him following his return to Prague.

What was the message that you brought from Czechia to the meeting in Jeddah?

“First our support to Ukraine in general – this is what we’ve been doing since the second Russian aggression started – and full support for the 10-point peace plan of President Zelensky.

“And also we offered concrete areas of interest where Czechia could help in implementing the plan, such as nuclear safety and security, and the international tribunal or mechanisms for prosecuting Russian war crimes.”

President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský | Photo: X of Jan Lipavský

Specifically, for example in the case of nuclear security, what can you do for Ukraine?

“We can offer Czech expertise. We can offer some technical assistance. We can of course offer outreach on the global scene, or with international partners and international organisations. And we have some concrete technical offers that we can provide.

“But of course this is the early stages, so we will be waiting for feedback from the Ukrainian side.”

What about the prosecution of Russian war crimes? What is Czechia doing in that regard?

“We established, or we hosted, the core group on this matter during the Czech presidency of the EU here in Prague. We’ve been working with Ukrainian partners on the modalities.

“We’ve been rallying support abroad, and of course we’ve been raising this and working on this within the Council of Europe, which already established a registry of damages. And we’ve been providing our expertise to our Ukrainian counterparts.”

How significant is it that there were representatives there from China, India and Brazil at the consultations in Jeddah?

Illustrative photo: Gerd Altmann,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

“Obviously this is crucial, and this is the main message from the meeting. We might not agree on the situation… China’s reading of the situation may be different, but China was present.

“They presented their points of view and we, Czechia and others, stressed that this is not just a regional issue or regional war: The Russian aggression has global impact, for instance, in food safety and security. This is something that we need to face.

“And it’s really good that we heard in Jeddah, basically from all delegations, that the territorial integrity of Ukraine has to be respected and the principles of the UN Charter have to be observed.”

Do you think anything was actually achieved by this conference in Saudi Arabia?

“Well, this wasn’t a one-off event, or, as we read in the Czech media, this wasn’t a ‘peace summit’. It was part of a process. The meetings will continue on different levels. There might be a high level or summit meeting this year.

“But of course this depends on the Ukrainian will. Ukraine has to decide when and how, on which terms, they would like to discuss peace.

“And we do not see any change in the Russian aggressive behaviour. I don’t think Russia wants peace. Russia still wants to destroy Ukraine – and this is why we need to continue our support to Ukraine.”

Today it is 530 days since Russia launched its all-out war on Ukraine. How much do you feel that international diplomacy could in the end possibly help bring about some kind of conclusion to this conflict?

Czech and EU flags | Illustrative photo: archive of Czech Government

“I think we have to do more of the same, which means continuing to support Ukraine with weapons, financial support, raising awareness and talking to the Global South.

“Minister Lipavský, for instance, visited Africa, visited India and is going to visit Brazil. So this is what Czech diplomacy is doing on the national level but also on the international level. And of course the unity of the European Union is vital.”

Author: Ian Willoughby
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