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Offline mayya

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2008 October 22, 17:25 (Wednesday)

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Ukraine Kyiv | United Nations (New York)
B. KYIV 1367 Classified By: IO PDAS Jim Warlick for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (C) Summary: This is an action request. See the objectives listed in para 2. Department requests Mission to coordinate with the Ukrainian Mission to the United Nations and offer support to their efforts to inscribe an agenda item on the Great Famine in Ukraine for the 63rd General Assembly, but to privately encourage the Ukrainians to delay their initiative until they have the votes needed to pass the motion in the General Committee. A decision on the agenda will be taken during the October 23, 2008, General Committee Meeting. Should the Ukrainians insist on proceeding to a vote in the General Committee meeting, Mission is instructed to speak in favor of inscription, call the issue to a vote if necessary, and to vote in favor of the inscription of this agenda item. End Summary. 

OBJECTIVES ---------- 

2. (C) Drawing on background in paras 3 and 8 and the suggested talking points in paragraph 9, the Department instructs Mission to pursue the following objectives: - Coordinate with the Ukrainian Mission to the UN in advance of the October 23 General Committee meeting and encourage them to delay their initiative until they have the votes needed to pass the motion in the General Committee. -- Remind Ukraine of the U.S. position not to accept language calling the tragedy "genocide"; Note that language clearly implying genocide (for example, language taken directly from the Genocide Convention to describe the Great Famine) will also be unacceptable. -- If Ukraine refuses to delay its initiative, offer U.S. Support for Ukraine's request to inscribe an agenda item on the Great Famine by speaking during the General Committee meeting and, if necessary, calling the issue to a vote and voting for the agenda item's inscription. -- Encourage the Ukrainians to seek other countries to call for a vote on this issue. Inform the Ukrainians that while the U.S. supports Ukraine's initiative in this regard, the U.S. will only call the issue to a vote in the General Committee one last time during this General Assembly session. -- Defer a decision on U.S. co-signature of the letter requesting inscription, and instead encourage Ukraine to focus on developing a core group of support for the action. If pressed, note that to be persuasive a letter of inscription would likely look quite different than their proposed text. 

BACKGROUND ---------- 

3. (U) The Ukrainians are lobbying for support of their efforts to inscribe an item on the UNGA agenda to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Holodomor. 

4. (U) During the General Committee meeting in July, the Ukraine Mission to the UN requested the General Committee to inscribe the item on the agenda of the 62nd UNGA. Azerbaijan spoke in favor of the inscription and Russia opposed. Immediately thereafter the chair closed debate on the issue and pronounced there was no consensus. Ukrainian officials in NY, Washington and Kyiv were disappointed that the U.S. delegate did not speak in favor of the inscription. However, the U.S. subsequently agreed to speak in favor of inscription at a September 13, 2008 General Committee meeting, but the Ukrainians ultimately withdrew the resolution from consideration at that meeting. 

5. (U) Ukraine Foreign Minister Ogryzko has written a letter to Secretary Rice requesting that the U.S. sign an "explanatory memorandum" in support of inscription. Further consultation revealed that UNGA rules of procedure require that requests for inscription be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum but that it is rare for the United States to co-sign such a memorandum. The current draft would need to be significantly re-written before the United States would consider co-signing. 

6. (U) The "Holodomor", which means "death by hunger" in Ukrainian, is what Ukrainians call the 1932-33 famine orchestrated by Stalin. President Yushchenko has taken a personal interest in promoting commemoration of the Holodomor. Ukrainian nationalists and politicians consider the event to be a defining moment in Ukraine's Soviet experience that sets Ukraine apart from the rest of the former USSR. The famine affected those living in what is now eastern and central Ukraine as well as other ethnic groups in parts of Russia and Kazakhstan. 

7. (U) The artificial famine was created after Ukrainian farmers fiercely resisted Soviet attempts to force peasants into collective farms. Soviet authorities confiscated the bulk of the food in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic to force the issue. Most scholars agree that 4-7 million deaths resulted from the famine, while some politicians have claimed even greater losses. 

8. (U) In May 2005, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution declaring the famine of 1932-33 a genocide and the Ukrainian government has pressed other countries to join it in designating the Holodomor as genocide. Ukraine is officially marking the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor in 2008 with domestic and international events and is looking for as much outside recognition as possible. The Ukrainian Government has largely avoided mention of the word "genocide" in order to gain support for resolutions in international fora. We have co-sponsored resolutions that do not include the genocide designation at UNESCO in October 2007, at the UNGA in 2003 and an OSCE statement in December 2007. Ukraine requested U.S. support for its draft Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution, tabled at the Council,s ninth session (September 8-26) . While the U.S. policy of non-engagement at the HRC precluded our support for the resolution, the language in Ukraine's HRC resolution was not and is not acceptable to the United States, as it drew directly on the language in the Genocide Convention. Ukraine withdrew its resolution from consideration by the Council when it realized it did not have consensus on its draft, and Russia used this opportunity to make an intervention stating that 44 out of 47 countries objected to Ukraine,s text. (Note: the U.S. cannot verify Russia,s numbers, but it was clear that the Ukraine,s draft resolution did not enjoy wide support.) 

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS ------------------------ 

9. (U) Mission may draw on the following points for its statement during the General Committee meeting: -- The United States supports the inclusion of an agenda item commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ukraine. -- The General Assembly exists in part to provide a forum for debate and discussion on sensitive topics that cross national lines. The United States supports Ukraine,s request as a matter of principle and encourages others to do the same. -- Given the clear debate the issue has generated here in the General Committee, it seems evident that this is an issue that deserves to be fully explored in the General Assembly. -- Seventy-five years ago, the world witnessed a horrific episode of manmade suffering and deprivation in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union. -- This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on a tragic chapter in human history. The United States agrees with Ukraine that it is essential to reflect on this dark period, a defining moment in Ukraine's history and one that offers lessons to the world at large. If needed: (In 2003 the U.S. co-sponsored a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly recognizing 70 years since the tragedy of the Holodomor. And in this 75th anniversary year, we co-sponsored a resolution on the Remembrance of Victims of the Great Famine (Holodomor) in the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization this past fall. The resolution calls for promoting awareness of the Great Famine though educational and research programs.)


10. (U) Should Post need additional guidance, Department's point of contact is IO/UNP K.G. Moore, 202 647-0042, [email protected]