# 13 May 2019 12:08 (UTC +04:00)

- In this month, between 23 and 26 of May, the European Parliament election will be held and there is general anxiety within European political institutions that in this election, right-wing parties can take more seats comparing with previous elections. Because in local elections in some of EU member states, these group parties have shown good performance.

- I think that there is a huge risk that many members of the European Parliament will come from nationalist or far-right groups. Some people say that one-third of the Parliament could actually be composed of nationalist of far-right members of parliament. This would be something very new, of course, this would impact on many elements of decision-making in the Parliament, whether it would be, for example, agreeing to certain appointments of commissioners, ratifying international trade agreements, ratifying or agreeing the European Union's budget. So, one-third of the seats is enough for them to have a huge impact.

- What are the reasons behind the rise of these parties?

I think we can put it down a number of different issues. First, is directly linked to EU enlargement. I mean, the EU kept going bigger and bigger without deepening and with a failure to really communicate to the population, with a missing link between political elites and people. So, they got left behind. This is one element of it. Another element is linked to different crises that the EU has been through, for example, the eurozone crisis, or more recently migration crisis which had an impact on some of these countries. Either because they were forced to take very strict austerity packages which had an impact on people, you know, the quality of life, financial situation, or because they were pressurized to take some of the hundreds of thousands of migrants that came to Europe from Syria. This was, you know, not received well and those parties who have nationalist or far-right background have used these developments to promote themselves, to make themselves more popular, and this is what how we arrived this point more or less.

- About the Brexit what is one of the most discussed topics in international politics, so, what can we expect, will they, the EU and UK finally agree?

- First of all, the European Union and the United Kingdom did reach an agreement, I mean, the UK negotiated the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. This was done by the members of the UK's team.

The problem does not lie with the EU, it lies with the Brits. Because the British government and the parliament cannot decide how to go forward. Within the Conservative party, within the Labor Party, let's say, the different factions which that simply cannot agree on how to go forward. The EU has made it very clear this that they all agreed cannot be reopened, there is no better deal that can be had. That is up to the UK to solve themselves out. And this is why the original departure point of the UK which was the 29th of March was missed and there is an extension until the end of October. In the hope that the UK will manage to sort itself out and there will be a common agreement reached by a majority in the Houses of the Parliament that will get through. But at this point in time, I do not think anybody really knows exactly what that is going look like because it simply cannot agree.

I am British, so I can tell you what first of all, I strongly dislike Brexit. I think it is a disaster for the UK, but also it is not clear how these different points of view are going to be bridged. And some of them are just, you know, very populist positions, let's say, gives to politicians higher visibility. They have political goals for themselves and their political goals ahead of the future of the country. The UK is really suffering because of the prolonged situation of unclarity, of instability.

- All this process can affect the unity of the UK, I mean, First Minister of Scotland said she would support the second referendum on independence, there is still unclarity on Northern Ireland?

- Yeah, Nicola Sturgeon said that could be the second referendum. We all know that the first referendum was failed not by a huge amount but it failed. But it was different time when this Brexit issue was not at the table. So, I think that if the situation arises that does not satisfy Scottish aspirations, it is possible that they could have the second referendum and it is possible that they could result in independence. Independence is a positive result but this in itself is very risky, because it [Scotland] can find itself independent but it does not necessarily mean they gonna be accepted as a member of the EU. Of course, they can hope that they would be, but, I mean nothing is certain, particularly, these days the EU is no good state of health. So, if I was Nicola Sturgeon, I would want clarity from the side of the EU that they will take independent Scotland in. Of course, another risk is that if Scotland will break away, the same could happen with Northern Ireland, etc, etc.

- Ukraine elected a new president, Mr. Zelensky who is a completely new face in politics of this country. It is really interesting what kind of policy new president-elect will pursue, any prediction on this you have?

- Mr. Zelensky has had no experience in politics, he has no track record on any policies. So, he comes to office as a blank check. The reason why we got this point is not so much because everybody loves Zelensky. Because they really hate the established political elite in Ukraine that of you know bankrupted, stolen from the country for years and years and because Mr. Poroshenko despite a lot of positive things that he did, because he did do, did not deliver fully on the goals that he lied out after Maydan. And this includes the defeat of corruption and getting rid of the oligarchs. Oligarchs in Ukraine are still alive and kicking. So, Mr. Zelensky comes in that area, I think, everybody waiting see what he will do when he eventually gets into office. What is important is that he has a very strong team of advisers surrounding him that he will choose people to key positions such as you know the head of the security council, prosecutor general, foreign minister, defense minister that of good names, credible names and he disassociates himself with anybody he is linked, for example, to political elites of the past, but particularly, Yanukovich and to the oligarchs. Obviously, oligarch that most familiar with Mr. Zelensky is Mr. Ihor Kolomoisky. So, it is extremely important that would ditch Mr. Kolomoisky that will not be linked him in any which way. If he is, this will ruin his credibility before he started. And I think, he needs to continue basically with what Poroshenko left in terms of foreign and security policy because this is main competence continuing to give parity Euroatlantic integration and the reforms that are necessary for that to continue having very tough position visa-vi Russia and to give attention to the conflict in Donbas which he has indicated that he will do. So, we have to wait and see, I mean we do not know, maybe, he will be a disaster but on the other hand, he could be fantastically successful. I do not think, he is a stupid man, he is a self-made man and we need to give him credit to allow him to do the job.

- Is Kremlin's last move on simplification of passport issuing for Donbas residents a signal for Ukraine's new president?

- Look, I am not surprised that Russians did this. Because they obviously testing Mr. Zelensky. I am guessing that some weeks ago Kremlin might feel that Mr. Zelensky is going to be easy further that they could manipulate him and exploit his inexperience. So, he has arrived as a new president and they are trying to test him. And Russians like to give passport away, I mean, they give them to everybody who will have Russian passport and then they use those Russian nationals for own political reasons. So, I do not think that is that surprising. I think that Zelensky's response was very good, very sharp. Probably, Russians did not expect it and I think that this was a positive thing. But I expect Russians to keep pushing and pushing on Zelensky in the next few weeks.

- About membership of Ukraine and Georgia in NATO.

- I think we have to differentiate between Ukraine and Georgia. Because Georgia has already prepared with Montenegro to join NATO, last year, however, the latter has approved as an official member of NATO, but Georgia not. So, Georgia is all ready to fit to join NATO, the problem is that NATO is not ready to take Georgia. Whether they will ever take Georgia is an open question, but automatically NATO promised Georgia and Ukraine seat at the table. But, for me, it is important that would take Georgia because otherwise, it gives an impression that the Russians have a veto on NATO enlargement. On Ukraine, it is a long long way behind Georgia. It is not comparable in terms of what they have achieved, what they are doing. Everything that NATO has asked Georgia to do, Georgia has done it, has gone beyond it. Georgia has sent soldiers to Syria they have lost lives, they have a big mission in Afghanistan, so, they have gone beyond what everybody has asked them to do from the NATO side.

- As you know, because of the S-400 system that Turkey plans to purchase from Russia, there is tension between the US and Turkey, so what is the future of relations between this long-term NATO allies?

- Turkey and US are going through a difficult period, the US is annoyed by Turkey because buying this S-400 system from Russia but at the same time, the US betrayed a long time NATO ally by cooperating with PYD in Syria what upset many people in Turkey.

But I think, both sides are trying to look for an exit to this current difficulty. It does not look very easy to achieve, frankly speaking, but let's wait and see. Sometimes things can be resolved in the last moments, but I mean, surely there has been hugely erosion of trust on both sides. Both, Turkey towards the US, but also vice versa. But of course, Turkey is not going to leave NATO anytime soon. Why would they?!

- About Nagorno Karabakh conflict which is a serious threat to the stability in the region... As you know, recently Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan met in Vienna, Austria, any comment on this?

- I think that the new climate of optimism that has been created over the last few months from the meeting of foreign ministers but also the most recent meeting between Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Armenian PM Pashinyan. I think there are positive dynamics from both sides to move forward but at the moment it has been more about talking and taking a few confidence-building measures. But the real test will come to moving ahead with the actual peace agreement and delivering or finding an agreement, concrete agreement on the basic principles. We are not at that point yet, hopefully, that will happen. But given in the history of this conflict and how long it has been going on which is now many many years, I am guessing some probable room for skepticism. But I think the arrival of Pashinyan has bought positive hope.

Armenian community in Karabakh has not received very well [what] but I think Azerbaijan has actually played a positive role since Pashinyan came, it has been very pro-active and constructive in the process and in the negotiations. So, as of today, things look very positive, let's wait and see to tackle really difficult issues.

The EU is a periphery player not involved in the negotiation process they basically give support to confidence-building measures in peace-building through initiatives. The EU really wants to have a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because it would bring security and stability to that region which has an impact on the EU as well. You know, they want this conflict resolved to bring prosperity to all the people of SC, so it is positive.

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