The Trump White House, in announcing Trump’s upcoming schedule for next week’s UN General Assembly, which will see many of the world’s heads-of-state gathered in New York, has again subtly snubbed Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko.
National Security advisor H.R. McMaster announced President Trump’s schedule of meetings as follows:
On Monday, the President will join senior U.N. leadership and the leaders of more than 120 other nations to discuss reforming the institution…
That day, the President will also meet with the leaders of France and Israel, two of America’s closest allies…
Monday evening, the President will host a working dinner with Latin American leaders…
Tuesday morning [the President will give a] speech to the General Assembly…
Later that day, the President will have lunch with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, meet with this year’s General Assembly President, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia, and meet with the Emir of Qatar. In the evening, he will host a traditional diplomatic reception.
On Wednesday, the President will meet with the leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, and Egypt. He will host a working luncheon with African leaders to discuss how the United States can help African nations…
Finally, on Thursday, the President will meet with the leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
He will also host a lunch with the leaders of South Korea and Japan.
From his remarks, it’s not clear if McMaster meant Trump would meet the leaders of South Korea and Japan after meeting Poroshenko on Thursday, or if it would occur at another time.
At any rate, the Ukrainian embassy proudly announced the meeting as if it were some kind of diplomatic coup:
— UKR Embassy in USA (@UKRintheUSA) September 15, 2017
Again, here is the list of Trump’s scheduled events next week in chronological order:
- Join UN senior leadership and leaders of 120 nations
- Meet President of France
- Meet Prime Minister of Israel
- Address UN General Assembly
- Meet UN Secretary General
- Meet President of UN General Assembly
- Meet Emir of Qatar
- Host diplomatic reception
- Meet King of Jordan
- Meet President of Palestinian Authority
- Meet Prime Minister of United Kingdom
- Meet President of Egypt
- Host luncheon with African leaders
- Meet President of Turkey
- Meet President of Afghanistan
- Meet President of Ukraine
- Host lunch with leaders of South Korea and Japan [possibly earlier in schedule]
While the list cannot be taken as an absolute measure of respect accorded to each country (certainly Trump does not value his relationship with Mahmoud Abbas higher than that with Theresa May), it is nevertheless a partial measure, and precedence caries much importance in diplomatic circles.
Trump is not only meeting the worn-out and unpopular Poroshenko as the very last, or nearly the last item on his agenda, but merely the order in which Ukraine was listed – only after Turkey and Afghanistan – can be interpreted as ranking the country lower and thus as a form of disrespect.
The grouping of countries also matters – even if Trump does meet South Korea and Japan last, the economically powerful east Asian nations have still been accorded parity. Ukraine meanwhile must share the stage wth third-world war-ravaged Afghanistan and lesser regional player Turkey.
Eight months since Donald Trump took the oath of office, Poroshenko has still failed to secure a coveted one-on-one summit meeting with the US president.
The closest he has gotten so far was on June 20th, when he “dropped in” – virtually forcing his way into the White House unscheduled, for a photo op with a reluctant Trump. Poroshenko appeared noticeably irritated, repeatedly slapping his palm as he spoke, as if in an effort to convince his opposite number.
We’ll soon see if next week’s meeting of the two leaders is any different.