By Yunus Soner
Oct. 17, 2022
The Mexican government has recently presented a proposal in the UN General Assembly to solve the Ukraine conflict by peaceful means. The proposal includes a call for ceasefire and the establishment of a dialogue group that aims to start talks between Ukraine and Russia for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
“We do not accept invasions of one country over the other. But today, there is the danger of a Third World war. To avoid it, we need to get back on the path of dialogue and ceasefire. The sanctions regime has not fulfilled the expectations of those countries that imposed it, and sending arms to Ukraine and financing the war only adds fuel to the fire. This needs to stop as a first step. It is not admissible to establish a NATO member that could tomorrow install nuclear military bases few kilometers away from Russia. And we also ask ourselves why NATO still exists at all.”
This is the point of view of Alfredo Femat Bañuelos. From the Labor Party, part of Mexico’s governing coalition, Bañuelos is member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the country. He is also – elected for the second consecutive term – Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
I spoke with Bañuelos in his office in the Mexican parliament about the nature of the Ukraine conflict, Mexico’s stance, necessary steps and Türkiye’s mediation efforts.
Mexico has presented a peace proposal for the Ukraine conflict. What is the essence of this proposal?
Mexico has long been a country active in mediating and solving international conflicts, a position also enshrined in our constitution Article 89, paragraph X (the principles of the right to self-determination; non-intervention; peaceful solution of controversies and the struggle for international peace and security, among others, as guidelines for the presidency, YS).
And our country also followed the Estrada Doctrine (named after 1930-1932 Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Genaro Estrada, who rejected evaluating government changes in other countries, YS), which has to do with the non-intervention into foreign domestic conflicts. We have always defended the position that conflicts should be solved via international organizations.
Benito Juárez: “Among individuals as among nations, the respect to other people’s rights is peace”
We do not accept the aggressions or invasions of one country against the other and we believe in the self-determination of the peoples. The motto of one Mexican President, Benito Juárez has always been guiding us: “Among individuals as among nations, the respect to other people’s rights is peace”.
Today, Mexico has presented a proposal to international organizations of solution by way of dialogue and the intervention of the UN for this conflict, which has already caused great damage to the global economy and which, if not stopped, threatens to lead us to a Third World War.
What happens in Russia and Ukraine affects all of us. I want to see what happens this winter in Europe, if the Russian gas does not arrive. Or here in Mexico: the price of fertilizers has increased, because our imports from Ukraine were fundamental. The same goes for the grain exports of that country. Today, we are de facto a global village, where all countries are interconnected, and if a conflict occurs somewhere, it has consequences for all of us.
Therefore, we made a call for peace, a call for dialogue, so that via the international organizations that we have created, a peaceful solution is found for this conflict.
“Russia has shown military and financial capacities – sanctions have not fulfilled the expectations of those countries imposing them”
While the conflict endures, a sanctions regime is established and deepened. What is your opinion about this?
My understanding is that these sanctions were imposed with the objective of stopping Russia. But I think that the expectations in those countries, which have pursued sanctions, have not come true. They expected to suffocate Russia. This did not happen. Russia has shown that is has not only military but also financial capacity and means.
And therefore, I think those countries should today listen to the proposal Mexico has made. More countries should support our initiative.
What do you think about the weapon deliveries to Ukraine and into the region in that context? Does that help in achieving peace?
I think we need to get back dialogue and mutual respect – and that includes both sides. Because we have to acknowledge that by inviting Ukraine to become a member, NATO and the United States have tried to establish in the backyard of the Russians a country that tomorrow could install nuclear missiles.
Here, one has to be serious and act responsibly. Remember, when the Soviet Union wanted to deploy nuclear missiles to Cuba in 1962, we were at the edge of a nuclear war. That situation was solved by Russia withdrawing the missiles.
“NATO and Russia have to understand that there are limits”
When today, the United States tries to pressure Russia using NATO, then alarm bells ring of course – and not only in Russia, but also in China. Both sides, NATO and Russia need to understand that there are limits: If you establish just a few kilometers of me a country that is a NATO member and that tomorrow will have US military bases, well, this is inadmissible. This position needs to be understood and acknowledged.
We need to take into consideration both sides of the conflict, which is not black and white. There are also powerful economic interests involved, and a lot of us keep asking ourselves why the NATO still keeps on existing?
“Why is NATO still existing?”
NATO was established after the Second World War to impede the advance of communism. Gorbachev tried to convince the Americans that he was going to stop the issue of communist advance and pursue reforms under the title of Perestroika, in exchange demanding a promise that NATO would not expand eastwards. But the Americans were not convinced.
I think an open and frank dialogue is necessary today. There needs to be rules in the game, which allow us to avoid a full-scale-no-matter-what-war.
“In reality, the conflict is between the United States and Russia – and sending arms to Ukraine adds fuel to the fire”
It seems that the United States and other countries insist on a military solution. They keep on sending arms and do not support the dialogue. How is possible to convince them to change position?
The problem is: if you send arms to Ukraine, you only add fuel to the fire. And we know that in reality the conflict is between the United States and Russia. They are using Ukraine, Russia’s backyard, in order to create a conflict between two powers – a conflict that harms the whole world.
The agreement in the framework of the UN has to achieve first a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia. The first necessary step is that the United States and NATO countries stop sending arms to Ukraine and financing the war. Sending arms and financing the war is nothing else but provoking a further escalation of the conflict and forcing Russia to radicalize its military position. If they force Moscow to it, this can end up in the use of nuclear weapons.
Therefore, the two sides – and if I say two sides, I am referring to the United States and NATO on the side and Russia on the other – have to come to determine rules of the game without including armed conflict.
In these circumstances of geopolitics, where some countries consider that using war, the economy can be reactivated and certain businesses revived, we have to show that we are not in a comfortable situation. We have to show that war is not a means to reanimate neoliberalism on the planet. We also have to think on other ways concerning the accumulation of capital.
How do you evaluate Türkiye’s attempts of mediation in the conflict by inviting the Ukrainian and Russian sides to dialogue in Istanbul, by facilitating the grain export agreement and the exchange of prisoners of war?
I think that Türkiye has a great problem, because both Ukraine and Russia are its economic partners. And Türkiye is in a similar situation as Mexico, that is, the conflict affects the country deeply. Ankara cannot take sides, because taking one’s side would mean loosing the trade relations with the other.
“Türkiye has a position very similar to that of Mexico”
Therefor, I think Türkiye’s position is very similar to that of Mexico. Türkiye also has called for dialogue and peaceful agreement. It has engaged in facilitating the transfer of people and in that the war does not stop the flow of grains or gas to Europe.
Both Türkiye and Mexico have very similar positions. I have no doubt whatsoever that Türkiye will be one of the important countries to engage mechanism proposed by Mexico in the quest for peace via dialogue.
It is existential that the United States understands the following: Its games to defeat Russia will only result in that China, which considers itself the next in line, closes ranks with Russia.
This process and mechanism of dialogue can also include India, Iran and even Pakistan. Everybody needs to understand that we have to stop this process of escalation for the well being of all inhabitants of this planet.
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