Russia wants to use Tunisian students as hostages

Ukrainian Ambassador to Tunisia: Russia wants to use Tunisian students as hostages

The Russia-Ukrainian conflict, which has a very complex origin, is at the forefront of the international scene. The hidden war between the Western bloc against the Eastern bloc, in this case Russia, ended in Ukraine. The country has been at the heart of geostrategic and geopolitical maneuvers for many years. On February 24, the Russian army launched its military operation in Ukraine and since then the world has been living in the rhythm of war. Business News collects the testimony of reporter Saif Eddine Amri who went to Ukraine to document the conflict. The Ukrainian embassy in Tunisia wanted to review the situation by giving us an interview. The war, its impact on the world order, on the economy, relations with Tunisia … Interview conducted by Rabeb Aloui with the Ambassador of Ukraine, Volodymyr Khomanets.

NATO still refuses to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine, is there a satisfactory and convincing explanation?

We need concrete decisions from NATO, the European Union, the G7 and G20, from all partners and international organizations. We have the support of our partners but we expect help from NATO, European Union, G7 and G20 so that we can defend our country. We are fighting the second most powerful army in the world; the Russian army. It is not easy to deal with. We are successful on the battlefield, but we need air protection; a no-fly zone. The Russians failed to achieve their goals. They are in a stalemate but want to continue propaganda and to put pressure on Ukrainians to mobilize more partners in the world.

Where are you in the negotiations?

Ukraine has been ready to negotiate since the beginning of the war. We are a nation of peace. We are convinced that this war and every war in the world must end. The Ukrainian government has sent a clear message that it is ready to negotiate. The first round took place face to face and we proceeded via the internet. Today we are talking about an agreement in principle. The (Ukrainian) president said he was ready to meet with the Russian president but we had no response from the Russian side. They try to prolong the negotiation as much as possible. Sadly they continued the propaganda and their ultimatum against Ukraine. An ultimatum that we will never accept, especially as it relates to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

We appreciate the support of international partners who wish to support Ukraine in the negotiation process, particularly the support of Turkey, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. We hope, at the conclusion of these negotiations, to reach an agreement that will guarantee Ukraine its independence in security.

Is Ukraine ready for a territorial compromise with Russia in the Donbass?

Donbass and Crimea are an integral part of Ukrainian territory. Russia insists on declaring them Russian territories but that will never happen. I repeat, never! We have a red line in our negotiation process. Ukraine values ​​the integrity of its territory, including the Donbass and Crimea. This is our red line. This is non-negotiable!

Has there been any progress since the meeting in Antalya?

Two days ago, there was a meeting between the Ministries of Defense (Ukrainian and Russian) with the support of the Turks. Moreover, we are grateful for the support of serious partners such as Turkey, which continues to speak directly or indirectly with (Vladimir) Putin and Russia to end the war. As the (Ukrainian) Foreign Minister said, we are ready to resume negotiations. But so far we have not seen any positive signs from the Russian side.

The Azov regiment, the Donbass battalion, the Ukrainian authorities were accused of neo-Nazism. What is your reaction to these accusations?

Ukraine and the whole of Europe have heard Russian accusations, allegations of possession of biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons. I do not want to waste time refuting this Russian propaganda especially since the Russian regime has provided no proof.

Ukraine has filed an official application to join the EU and NATO but the file remains stagnant with no progress despite what is happening, why?

We made an official request to join the European Union and we got a positive signal from Brussels. The European Union has opened the door for Ukraine and we will be permanent members soon. We are currently conducting consultations on procedures to be initiated within the framework of a fast track in favor of Ukraine. A green corridor for Ukraine is considered a strong signal for the Ukrainian nation. It weakens our enemies, the Russians. We are members of the European family and we want to be full members. We are members in geographical speaking, and we want to be members in politics.

In what scenario will Ukraine accept Russia’s conditions?

We remain in our position. We have not accepted Russia’s conditions and we will never accept them. Ukraine does not accept any ultimatum by Russia against the sovereignty and integrity of its territory. Ukraine refused to be occupied or colonized by Russia or re -subjected to Russian control. We know that the Russian Empire could not have existed without Ukraine. (That is why) Ukraine should stop (the project of) the Russian empire.

Who can stop Vladimir Putin?

Only international support will help us stop (Vladimir) Putin and end the war. We are fighting for real freedom, real freedom not only for Ukrainians but for the whole of Europe and all. Everyone who supports us knows that (Vladimir) Putin will not stop in Ukraine.

What are the consequences of the war in Ukraine on agricultural products?

At the price of oil?

Everyone knows that this war will have an impact on every country, even the small ones very far from Ukraine, and on food prices. We call on the international community to stop Russia, to end this war because it will have a negative impact even on Tunisia. Ukraine is a major contributor to Tunisia’s food security. We supply more than 40% of the wheat needs of the Tunisian market. The empty shelves in supermarkets are just the beginning. We wonder, moreover, what the situation will be in the coming days if the war continues. We therefore call for an end to this war against Ukraine in order to stabilize the market and economy.

Countries dependent on Ukrainian wheat are now looking for alternatives. Does it worry you?

Ukraine is a major player in the global food security ecosystem. If the war stops, the economic machine will start again and we will be able to sell our wheat. Alternatives are priced. This is why we call for an end to this war and an end to its effects on the world economy.

How do you assess trade between Tunisia and Ukraine?

In recent years, we have recorded positive dynamics. Trade rose 10 to 15%. We have also made great progress in the process of negotiating an independent trade agreement with Tunisia, which will allow us to consolidate our relations.

We organized a fair last year and implemented action plans to encourage our entrepreneurs to invest in Tunisia. Ukraine, in part, represents an opportunity for Tunisian businessmen. It can be a gateway to European and Asian markets and a trading and logistics hub. Ukraine expects support from Tunisia to gain access to other markets in Africa.

What will happen to foreign students, particularly Tunisians?

As Ukrainian Ambassador to Tunisia, I know that the situation of Tunisian students in Ukraine is something of great importance. I would like to emphasize that I have always been in touch with the Tunisian government and we have been successful in evacuation operations. Before the war, more than a thousand Tunisian nationals lived in Ukraine. Most were evacuated because of the close cooperation of our respective governments.

We have developed a website to provide Tunisian students in Ukraine with all the necessary information on the progress of their distance studies for obtaining their diplomas and their return to Ukraine. As for Russia, which wants to recover these students, I would like to inform the parents of Tunisian students that Russia is increasingly isolated and wants to take them hostage. Russian diplomas are not recognized in the world while Ukraine offers a European education program. Our diplomas are recognized everywhere. Be patient. Ukraine will welcome Tunisian students to continue their education when the war is over.

Interview conducted by Rabeb Aloui

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