The events of recent months have demonstrated how a pandemic can force the whole world to close its borders in the shortest possible time and it won’t be possible to open them quickly. This should encourage global players to make changes to the system of international relations to prevent the closure of borders in the event of another pandemic. This was emphasized in an interview by Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Ihor Zhovkva.
According to him, it is now necessary to develop, for example, a new algorithm for cooperation between the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries to overcome such challenges.
"By the way, we have put forward an initiative to quickly establish a union of neighboring countries to combat coronavirus during the pandemic. We talked about this with the presidents of our neighboring countries. That is, something needs to be done. Otherwise, every time we will be held hostage to such pandemics," he said.
In addition, Ihor Zhovkva denied rumors about the possibility of lifting the visa-free regime with the EU for Ukraine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, the states will only gradually open their borders to foreigners.
"I have not heard from any of our interlocutors that this will be a reason to close the border for Ukrainians or, moreover, to abolish the visa-free regime. Just like, by the way, with others - we have a visa-free regime not only with the European Union," he said.
Ihor Zhovkva also spoke about the impact of quarantine restrictions on the foreign policy work of the President of Ukraine. In particular, we had to postpone a number of visits of foreign presidents to our country scheduled for March-April. Preliminarily, they can take place in the summer.
"Let's hope that the summer will be hot not only in terms of weather and overcoming coronavirus, but also in terms of foreign policy. We may have to give up vacations. But international activities should be continued," he said.
However, all this time communication with foreign leaders has not stopped, the Deputy Head of the President's Office reminded. It took place in the format of telephone conversations. There were more than 20 of them in two months.
"Obviously, in times of crisis, you first talk to your partners and friends. Each of these talks ends with a concrete result," Ihor Zhovkva said.
He also said that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the protocol in which the innovations had to be implemented. In particular, foreign ambassadors and the President of Ukraine did not shake hands during the presentation of credentials, although this is stipulated in the protocol.
"You could even see in the photo the greetings with an elbow with one of the ambassadors. But, again, simplifying the protocol, we have not lost any meaning. I am not sure that in all countries now presidents accept credentials from foreign ambassadors. We felt that it was necessary, that diplomatic work should not stop," the Deputy Head of the President's Office emphasized.