Sunday, July 26, 2015

Russia's Medvedev: Ukraine Could Face Yugoslavia-Style Break Up

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Ukraine could disappear from the map of Europe as Yugoslavia did, if Kiev does not "show some flexibility" and grant more autonomy to the territories in the east held by pro-Russian separatists.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev looks at documents in his office in the Gorki state residence outside Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2015.

Six countries currently on the map of Europe were once members of the Serb-led communist Yugoslav Federation before the Yugoslav wars in 1992, while Kosovo declared its independence from the territory of Serbia in 2008.

Ironically Russia has backed Serbia in not recognizing Kosovo's independence and blocking a U.N. resolution recognizing the organised killing of ethnic Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces as "a crime of genocide".

Speaking to Slovenian broadcaster RTV Slovenija ahead of his visit to the country, a former Yugoslav republic, Medvedev compared the conflict between pro-Russian forces in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Yugoslavia.

The interview transcript was published on the Russian government's website.

"Let us ask, for example, the Russian youth if they remember a country such as Yugoslavia? I think most young people would already be struggling to recall that this country was ever on the map of Europe," Medvedev said.

"It was a very difficult, harsh, painful and, unfortunately, unpeaceful process. Why am I reminding you of this? Because, when we are told that it is necessary to respect international obligations, it is something we completely agree with... but this approach must be applied to all states, in all situations."

The early 1990s saw the Yugoslav conflict reach the height of its violence, specifically in Bosnia and Croatia where around 110,000 and 20,000 respectively have been reported killed.

Other states seceded more peacefully, most notably Montenegro which parted from Serbia in 2006 after a referendum agreed by both sides.

Slovenia's own war of independence lasted 10 days, during which around 100 people were killed.

"I am reminiscing about Yugoslavia, only because I hope that at some point in the future we will not have to remember the country which used to be called Ukraine in the same way," Medvedev added.

"The existence of Ukraine at the present moment depends on the wisdom, patience, tact, willingness to compromise and the desire to speak to everyone who makes decisions on the territory of Ukraine." 

Source: Newsweek

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