Ukraine’s neutral status to be put to referendum — President Zelensky

28 March, 01:00 PM
Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo:.instagram.com/zelenskiy_official)

Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo:.instagram.com/zelenskiy_official)

Ukraine could decide on its neutral status in a referendum, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with independent Russian media on March 27.

If this direct democratic route is not taken, the corresponding changes to the Constitution would take at least a year to go through parliament, the president said.

"There must be a referendum in Ukraine (on neutral status in the case of the country receiving security guarantees),” Zelensky said.

“Why? Because we have a law on referendums... Security guarantees imply a neutral status, and these are constitutional changes... That’s two (parliamentary) sessions."

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According to Zelensky, holding a referendum would be a faster process than amending the Constitution.

“Therefore, a referendum it is. Because only the people can decide to introduce such a status and guarantors. The referendum will take place within a few months, and changes to the Constitution would take at least a year, according to our current legislation. At least a year.”

In response to a clarifying question, Zelensky noted that Ukrainian refugees in other countries would also be able to vote in a referendum.

However, speaking of security guarantees, he said that it was important "that this is not another flimsy à la Budapest Memorandum."

“Therefore, we are interested in this document turning into a serious agreement, which will be signed — where there are clauses relating to security guarantees — by all the guarantors of this security,” Zelensky said.

“Secondly, it must be ratified by the parliaments of the guarantor countries. And there must be a referendum in Ukraine.”

At the same time, the president stressed that holding a referendum would be impossible while Russian troops are present on the territory of Ukraine.

“No one will ever, from the point of view of the convention, take into consideration the results of this referendum if there are troops or armed illegal or legal formations of another state on the territory of the country without any legal foundation. This is off the table.”

A day earlier, Zelensky stated that the central point in negotiations with Russia is the issue of guarantees of security and neutrality, and the non-nuclear status of Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainian side is ready to agree to this.

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