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Budapest Memorandum: to be continued?



To be honest, I did not fully understand president Poroshenko comparing Ukrainian armed forces to Budapest Memorandum at the military parade dedicated to 25th anniversary of independence of Ukraine. Did he try to downplay the significance of this document or, vice versa, wanted to determine its political “guarantees” as commensurable to military ones? The question remains open. Anyway, president’s reference to Budapest Memorandum is good news. Since Russian aggression has started in our country, Ukrainian Association of Foreign Policy consistently advocated for reaffirming international legal status of the Budapest Memorandum, whose violation means violating the norms of the international law.

         I am not going to substantiate this position right now. I can only recommend reviewing Igor Losovskyi’s research on this topic. The work was published last year under the guidance of the UFPA and is available at our web site. We may argue the position of American diplomats, expressed in “private talks” and described in the article “New agenda of Poroshenko” by the Editor-in-Chief of LB.UA Sonya Koshkina and Igor Solovey. All I can say is that international treaties, which came into force in accordance to the internationally recognized practice, may be considered as part of domestic legal framework of the signatories.

Considering the clear inefficiency of efforts in terms of Normandy Four and Minsk arrangements, politicians and diplomats cannot but turn regard on Budapest Memorandum, whose potential is not depleted yet. It is universally know that the document is not a silver bullet. But at least Article 6 of the Memorandum should be applied. It suggests conducting consultations among parties in case there is a situation tackling the commitment undertaken by the signatories. The fact that Ukraine still has not taken advantage of this opportunity is quite surprising. Moreover, the document may become an important element of the evidentiary foundation throughout the international judicial proceedings of Ukraine’s charges against Russia’s violation of the international law and crimes against humanity. Saying that the Memorandum lacks tools for implementation is nothing else but a try to elude responsibility for failing international guarantees of territorial integrity and border inviolability of Ukraine in exchange for its voluntary nuclear ban.

It is quite evident that if nuclear states ignore the Budapest Memorandum, it might lead to the erosion of international legal regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapon and collapse of the whole international security system based on the NPT.

The “Reanimation” of this Memorandum is not only possible, but also necessary. However, it depends on political will of the treaty countries. Of course, Budapest format cannot automatically replace the Normandy format, this is not even a question. But there is still a wide field for creative search for solutions to escape the corner that Minsk arrangements pushed us in.

The negotiations that concern not only the future of Europe, but also the international peace and security should move beyond the narrow bounds of the “four” format. They should be joined by other countries, appointed by an international representative conference led by the UN. In addition, the Budapest Memorandum countries as nuclear states should form the core of these negotiations.

Volodymyr Khandogiy

President of the Ukrainian Foreign Policy Association

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador 

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