Commentary

Ukraine crisis holds lessons for Singapore

Ukraine crisis holds lessons for Singapore
Ukrainian servicemen in the Crimea region. Ukraine was a functioning state that was negotiating an economic agreement with the European Union, yet it finds itself in deep crisis, facing the serious risk of dismemberment. Photo: REUTERS
Published: 4:03 AM, March 6, 2014
Updated: 10:30 AM, March 6, 2014
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Yesterday, during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Committee of Supply debate, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam spoke in Parliament about the geopolitics in the region and beyond, in a wide-ranging speech on international relations. Among other things, he outlined lessons that Singapore can learn from the Ukraine crisis. These are excerpts of his speech:

 

The task for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to chart a course in an uncertain world — a course that best protects our country, economy and advances our people’s interests.

How do we do it?

- Build and maintain strong international network of friends; and actively participate in international organisations which are relevant to us;

- Support key regional organisations and platforms;

- Maintain strong relationships with our neighbours ... to the extent possible; I say that because it depends on principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and interests.

These principles have to be applied to the real world — a world in a state of dynamic flux. Geopolitical relationships change; often they change quickly.

As we speak, yet another new crisis has been added to the international problems already facing all of us.

What is happening in the Ukraine impacts on all of us at several levels — there is a potential impact on the world economy, and therefore our economy as well. Other countries will see what patterns of behaviour are possible. This is a situation of a stand-off now between a big country and a small country. It offers several lessons for Singapore in real politics and international law.

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