Former Irish PM Bertie Ahern has been asked to act as peacemaker during talks aimed to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
The disgraced ex-Fianna Fail leader is due to travel back to the country in the coming weeks as a peacebroker in the secret talks.
The Sunday Times reports that Ahern is working as an unpaid talks facilitator with Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a not-for-profit conflict resolution organisation founded by Martti Ahtisaari, a former president of Finland.
Nobel peace prize winner Ahtisaari met Ahern when he served as an inspector of IRA arms decommissioning as part of the Irish peace process.
Ahern spent time in Kiev last week where he met with Ertugrul Apakan, the head of an international monitoring mission.
The paper reports that he is to return to Ukraine in the coming week.
The report adds that he has already made two trips to attend talks aimed at ending the violence in eastern Ukraine and was involved in talks in Kiev with leaders of last February’s demonstrations in Maidan Square during which 82 people were killed.
Ahern told the Sunday Times: “I walked freely around Maidan, which is spooky because it’s very quiet and the grottos and shrines erected in memory of the dead are still there since February.”
Asked by the paper if he is being paid for the work, he said: “Not a tosser. They pay for your flights, cars and hotel but if you have a drink in the bar, you pay for it yourself.”
The former Irish leader was also critical of the reaction of the EU to the crisis in Ukraine.
He said: “The initial EU sanctions were very weak. People there are fighting for the EU. The Ukrainians are depending on Europe to give them moral and financial support.
“The trouble there has been going on for 20 years. It’s been building. In the later years of the Anglo-Irish peace process, the British government was working with the Irish government and trying to find a resolution, but the Russians are not doing that in Ukraine.”
A major contributor to the Good Friday Agreement, Ahern won a Sabino Arana Foundation award in 2012 for his role in a peace conference in the Basque region.
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