Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission between Russia and Ukraine with the Mediation of the European Union (TJR). Courtesy photo: Collège des Bernardins
The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission between Russia and Ukraine with the Mediation of the European Union (TJR) held four sessions in 2018-2019 in France and Ukraine at the initiative of the Collège des Bernardins (Paris), the Mohyla Academy (Kyiv), the Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv) and the NGO Memorial (Moscow), in partnership with several media outlets: French (ouest-france.fr), Russian (graniru.org), Ukrainian (radiosvoboda.org), English (uacrisis.org) and with the support of several organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Normandy Forum for Peace, the Open Dialogue Foundation, and the Oeuvre d’Orient.
The final documents were approved at each session and published in French, Russian, Ukrainian and English.
We, the undersigned, members of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission state our firm conviction that there is still today a chance for peace between Russia and Ukraine, but also, by extension, between Russia and the democratic world. The precondition for peace is to know how to distinguish between the strategic interests of nations and the short-term interests of the states of the warring countries. However, we must really reject any naivety towards a State that seriously destabilizes the international order, as shows the involvement of the Russian state in the annexation of Crimea and in the destabilization of Donbas that has been recognized by all the countries of the European Union and has been vigorously condemned by the vast majority countries of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.
We are convinced that Russia will one day have to be reintegrated into the big family of democratic nations. But, it must first carry out work within itself to integrate the democratic principles that it accepted theoretically after 1991, but without having questioned the practices of the homo sovieticus, and repair the wrongs committed against its neighbors.
From the point of view of the European Union and other Western countries, it is not through a policy of false neutrality and appeasement that the hybrid war between Russia and many countries can be resolved. The experience of the 1930s shows that such a policy has no chance of success, as neo-imperial powers are convinced that the law of force is more powerful than the force of law. On the other hand, historical experience shows that the law, when it is based on principles of respect for the person, when it is animated by a capacity for improvement and when it is firmly defended, is otherwise more powerful and lasting than the logic of violent domination. Peace in the European Union since its creation is a convincing example. This is why the peace plan we are proposing is built on a logic of firmness, reparation, and openness to a mutually beneficial order.
We assume that building future peace and stable good neighborly relations between the two countries requires a dialogue based on values and principles shared by all parties, that they are equal partners, that they respect state sovereignty, the principle of inviolability of borders in Europe, the rule of law, as well as the concept of human dignity and freedom of conscience.
This Commission is the only existing structure in the world that has been able to bring together eminent institutions, recognized by the States and the civil societies to which they belong, and having been able to produce a peace plan taking into account the strategic interests of the Russian and Ukrainian nations. Unlike the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine and the Normandy Format, the TJR Commission has involved members of civil society with career diplomats, and has sought to organize a dialogue that is based not solely on the balance of power, but primarily on an objective diagnosis of the conflict and on mutually beneficial ways of healing.
At each session, special care was taken in selecting speakers and observers. In all cases, there were representatives of different nationalities (Russian, Ukrainian, European and American) but also with different specialties (economists, historians, philosophers, political scientists, theologians) widely recognized for their expertise, free and independent from their professional institutions, and open to discussion with other people with different positions, for the purpose of seeking differentiated consensus.
It is quite obvious that the members of the TJR Commission did not have an a priori essentialist position against any country and all wanted to see international law respected and peace established between nations. This does not mean, however, that they consider this law fixed and that the order established by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), where each nation-state considers itself to have unlimited sovereignty, cannot evolve to an authentic alternational law of nations in solidarity with each other, as recommended by Mireille Delmas Marty, honorary professor at the Collège de France or Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Peace Forum in Paris.
The following list represents a very succinct and non-exhaustive plan of 10 major proposals briefly summarized so that everyone can immediately grasp the complexity of the operations to be carried out. This plan, the details of which appear in the texts of convergence and which will be further refined in the coming months, must be launched, in our opinion, very quickly, if, at the very least, the international community wishes to prevent the Russian-Ukrainian conflict from becoming a global conflict, as it was the case in the Franco-German conflict.
This 36-point peace document represents two years of work and meetings of over 200 intellectuals, diplomats, church leaders, NGO leaders, and journalists from Russia, Ukraine and Western Europe.
It was first publicly presented at the Open Orthodox University of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv and at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.
We call on all political, diplomatic, economic, religious, media and cultural decision-makers to support these proposals, and to support the establishment of a structure that would be able to implement them. We also call on civil societies, especially those in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, to react to these proposals, make them their own and to implement them in every possible way. So that together we can avoid the terrible tragedies of the past century and imagine new dynamics of peace.
Antoine Arjakovsky, Research Director at the Collège des Bernardins, Paris
Borys Gudziak, President of the Catholic University of Ukraine. Archbishop-Metropolitan for
Ukrainian Catholics in the USA, Philadelphia
Nikita Petrov, Vice-president of the Russian NGO Memorial, Moscow
Constantin Sigov, Director of the Center for European Studies of the Mohyla Academy of Kyiv
PEACE PLAN plan for the benefit of the Russian and Ukrainian nations
- Creation of a Magnitsky Law on a European scale to deal with all those who support or fuel the destabilization of Ukraine;
- Implementation of a control process within the European Union capable of verifying the application of sanctions and the absence of technological transfers to Russia;
- Applications of European Commission decisions to avoid EU dependence on Russian hydrocarbons;
- Establishment of a graduated response process in the event of an escalation of the conflict, with particular reference to the European Convention on Human Rights.
2) Organization of military support to Ukraine as aggressed country.
- Taking into account the Budapest Memorandum, NATO member states must accelerate Ukraine’s integration into NATO;
- Implementation of the NATO Black Sea Package of Measures;
- The European Union must also strengthen the EU’s mission in Ukraine on security and military training;
- It is essential for the EU to get Russia and the United States to resume negotiations on the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
3) Implementation and reform of international law
- Implementation of the decisions of the International Court of Justice in The Hague: Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation);
- Reform the functioning of the UN Security Council by adding a rebalancing by the General Assembly of the United Nations of the permanent veto power of SC members.
- Adopt strong legislation in the EU countries against misinformation and violent speeches according to European Parliament resolutions.
4) Implementation of the Minsk Agreement in the following order
- Conference in 2020, for example in Brussels, for peace in Donbas, with major participation of the European External Action Service, which would propose a temporary administration plan for the UN + OSCE in Donbas;
- Implementation of this provisional administration with forces of countries approved by Russia and Ukraine;
- A permanent cease fire and demilitarization of Donbas; the release of all political prisoners;
- A return of refugees, independent media and political parties in Donbas;
- After a period deemed sufficiently long by the United Nations and the OSCE, organization by this temporary administration of a referendum in the Donbas under the control of the UN and the OSCE with observers not belonging to any of the countries in conflict;
- Implementation of the Ukrainian government’s decentralization law in regions that have accepted its legitimacy.
5) Preparing a future of peace for an internationally recognized Crimea
- Accurate monitoring of persecution against national and religious minorities in Crimea;
- Denuclearization of the peninsula by Russia in return for a replenishment of drinking water and electricity by Ukraine;
- Organization of an international conference on Crimea with a view to proposing a new referendum under the mandate of the UN and the OSCE. A process similar to the implementation of the Minsk Agreement in Donbas will then have to be applied.
6) Support from international financial institutions
- Short-term support from existing instruments at the EU level to NGOs in charge of protecting the lives of civilians and the industrial, cultural and environmental heritage in conflict areas;
- Short-term funding of peace building initiatives, of efforts by commissions of experts, intellectuals, academics, NGO members, former prisoners of conscience, of exhibitions or concerts of artists belonging to the Russian and Ukrainian nations;
- Continued EU and IMF support for reforms in Ukraine, notably in promoting the rule of law.
- Investment plan after the results of referendums for Donbas and then for Crimea with the participation of the EBRD, the IMF, the World Bank.
7) Joint reflection work on the future of security in Europe: EU/NATO, but also Russia/Ukraine
- Need for agreement beforehand on the model of government and international law compatible with the fundamental principles of the EU, the OSCE and the UN;
- Organization of conferences on the possible ways of a new effective OSCE in association with the Atlantic Alliance and the EU with the participation of intellectuals, former prisoners of conscience and representatives of civil society;
- Increase short-term EU budgets for rapid response forces.
8) Educational work
- Handbook of Russian-Ukrainian history in several languages, based in particular on the European Parliament resolution of September 2019 on the importance of European memory for the future of Europe;
- Training manual on peace building and the rule of law;
- Training manual for Interfaith Dialogue and Ecumenical Ecclesiology.
9) Work with the media
- Creation of a website capable of providing information on the work of the TJR Commission in several languages, and enabling the populations concerned to contribute to the various peace initiatives;
- Creation of a Russian-Ukrainian news channel (modelled on Arte) with an independent editorial staff, supported by EU journalists and EU funding;
- Increased budgets to European agencies in charge of combating fake news and disinformation, in particular, a multilingual version of the site https://euvsdisinfo.eu/.
10) Religious Reconciliation Work: Inter-Orthodox and Ecumenical
- Draft and implement a road map for cooperation between the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches and the Ukrainian Catholic Greek Church;
- Draft and implement a reconciliation roadmap between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (recognized by the Moscow Patriarchate) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople);
- Support the enactment of a new pan-Orthodox conciliar process.