The crisis in Ukraine has escalated to such a degree that, at worst, war between Ukraine and Russia, and subsequently a disastrous military confrontation between Russia and NATO, could be the outcome.
Much can be criticised about the policies of the Russian government. However, the current negative coverage in the media regarding Russia does nothing to create an atmosphere of rationality conducive to conflict resolution. On the contrary: it is the background music for geopolitical, interest-driven politics aimed at the Russian “opponents” which forces Austria into the dire role of a conflict party.
Turning an unstable peace into war must be avoided at all costs. This can be achieved if all stakeholders and the major powers of Russia and the USA take de-escalating measures and enable a peaceful, diplomatic settlement of the conflict without encouraging further escalation.
This is the stance that the Austrian Government should take at the summit of EU heads of states and governments taking place on Thursday. As a state whose neutrality is recognised in the EU Treaty of Lisbon, Austria has to counteract any further aggravation of the situation and, most especially, militarisation of the conflict through the EU and NATO, by interposition of its veto if necessary. The neutral state of Austria may under no circumstances be involved in a military confrontation.
The current crisis is also a result of the interference of German forces and the EU’s predominant bloc in Ukraine’s internal conflicts. The European Union not only refused to provide any actual help to mitigate Ukraine’s economic difficulties, it also openly supported a dubious alliance of nationalist forces involving neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic movements which were replaced by the corrupt Yanukovych administration. By doing so, the social and economic crisis of the country was not cured, and the Ukrainian state was shaken to its very foundations.
Restoring the broken national consensus – if at all possible – will take a long time. The contributions that Europe or the EU can make are obvious: they must abstain from interfering in these gang wars and put forward proposals which have a calming effect on the international situation and which are in the interest of all parts of the Ukrainian population.
We therefore urge Austrian politicians to step away from the dominant German Foreign Policy and the dominant bloc inside the EU and to propose an “Austrian” solution for the status of Ukraine: establishing Ukraine as a neutral state between Russia and NATO. This means political neutrality, no military alignments, bilateral economic treaties with the EU and with Russia, guarantees for the non-Ukrainian members of the population with regards to autonomy, language policy and other cultural rights, measures against right-wing extremist tendencies and the disbandment of its armed wings. This “Austrian” solution to the crisis also recognises that a rational handling of the conflict and an internationally sustainable solution can only be reached with Russia and not against it.
The lack of imagination and initiative within Austrian Foreign Policy must end. It must be substituted by an active policy of neutrality. This is in the interest of the Austrian population as well as the European population, and has never been more urgent than now.
Source of the German original text: KPÖ