Professor Valbona Zeneli says diplomacy is always the best solution to any crisis
On March 21 -23, a number of security experts gathered in Kyiv for a seminar for the representatives of the government of Ukraine on defense and security reforms.
Ukraine Today's Viewpoint is joined by director of Black Sea and Eurasia Program of George Marshall European Center for Security Studies Professor Valbona Zeneli to discuss the seminar and new security environments in the Black Sea region.
Volodymyr Solohub: From what you are hearing from the Ukrainian government officials during the seminar, is there a real will to reform the defense sector of Ukraine? Are you seeing the real steps for these reforms?
Valbona Zeneli: "The main issues that were discussed during the seminar are defense and security issues. We are looking at the challenges and opportunities. This is the program which is the part of the George Marshal European Center Program with the objective and mission to create stable environment through promoting understanding, democratic institutions and dialogue. This was also the aim of the seminar. We are not here to teach the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian MPs how to work. We are here to create the environment where we and they can discuss the challenges and the severity of these challenges. Environment is very important for creating trust. If we are talking about the will of the government to make real changes in the defense and security sector I think there is a will and I see some needed actions have been taken already.
It is very difficult to assess the complexity of finding solutions to all these challenges for the Ukrainian defense and security sectors. You cannot reform the defense sector separately. What we are trying to do is to have this comprehensive approached reform. It is not only internal but also external challenges. For example, you cannot build the strong defense reform if you do not have the funding also to support it. What is important in this case that the civil military cooperation is proceeding in the right direction and the civilian control of the armed forces was one of the main topics in our seminar. So, I think we are moving in the right direction, progress is seen, but there is more needed and there are so many other challenges up there.
What is important for Ukraine right now that there is much intention also of international community to support Ukrainians on this reform road. That is why it is very important to catch this moment and go ahead with these reforms."
Discussing the security in the Black Sea region Ms. Zeneli pointed out that this is not only the regional security threat but also transnational security threat.
"There is a strong need for cooperative approaches to these challenges and this is how the countries have to face this issue," she said.
While answering the question about the gender issue in the defense sector of U.S. and Ukraine, Ms. Zeneli pointed said that "women in the security sector is not the right thing to do – it is the smart thing to do."