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Press Release

Address by His Excellency Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine, to the Heads of diplomatic missions

January, 18, 2000

Mr. Dean,
Honourable Heads of diplomatic missions
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome the opportunity to meet you today.

Every meeting that we have is both pleasant and useful for me and hopefully for you too. Primarily because we are united not only by constant productive working contacts, but also very often by friendly personal relations.

This traditional meeting is distinctive not only because it takes place at the beginning of a New Year. This year is the last in the 20th century.

One of the controversial and dynamic periods in the development of humankind is sliding into history.

The world community has warmly welcomed this year and lays great expectations upon it, unlike computers, which entered 2000 with a certain degree of difficulty.

Do we have grounds for our optimism?

I am confident that we do.

Despite the challenges and threats that the world faced in the last decade, we cannot deny obvious progress in achieving global stability, which, in my opinion, is irreversible.

First of all, we have laid the foundation for the new world order, free of confrontation and violence.

What we need now is to construct the edifice, create our future carefully and in a considered way, yet decisively and consistently. This is the job for all of us together and for each individual country.

Ukraine has become more active in the process and it looks into its future with optimism.

The 20th century has brought Ukraine revival of its statehood.

One of the oldest European nations has made a considerable contribution into the treasury of the human progress, has stopped being the object of other countries' actions, has turned into an equal subject of the international law and an influential factor of the European and world security.

This, undoubtedly, constitutes the main outcome of the 20th century for us, Ukrainians.

At the turn of the century our people have made a historic and unambiguous choice for market transformations in the economy, democracy and creating civil society.

Results of the presidential election make it possible to leave the discussions as to the choice for the future in the past.

We take with us for the journey our confidence that the choice, the milestones and targets are right, as well as our trust in our power and potential.

Popular trust and support give me reasons and the right to act so that to fulfil the targets completely.

My top priority for the short time perspective is accelerating and deepening market transformations in economy.

They will embrace budget and taxation systems, agricultural reform, developing enterprenership, further liberalisation of economic relations, especially foreign economic relations and improving investment climate in the country.

We are at the threshold of renewal of economic growth after years of exhausting decline.

We need to create efficient mechanism of state administration and sufficient legislative base to make decisive progress on the way, ensure implementation of deep and wide-scale measures and programmes.

Proceeding from what has been accomplished and what is being done you can draw conclusions about the seriousness of our intentions and plans.

As you already know, I have signed the Decree on urgent measures to accelerate reforms in the agricultural sector of economy which aims at solving the key problem in the sphere - land ownership.

On New Year's eve I issued a Decree aimed to facilitate privatisation. It envisages secure favourable conditions for foreign participants of privatisation competitions and tenders.

Decisive steps have been made in administrative reform. A package of related decrees aims at optimisation of the state power and administration structures, starting with the Cabinet of Ministers, deep restructuring of the principles of their work, not just a considerable reduction of the number of ministries and agencies.

Ukraine is decisively getting rid of the rudiments of the recent past, especially of the remains of the total nationalisation of economy. I see the main function of the Government, as well as other bodies, in creating favourable conditions for their adequate functioning and dynamic development, not in the administrative and intervention into all the sectors of the country's life.

These tasks are laid upon the team that came to the Government together with the newly appointed Prime-minister Victor Yushchenko.

I am inclined to constructive cooperation with the Parliament and all the robust forces of our society. At the same time, with the constitutional rights entrusted to me, I will fight off any attempts to destabilise situation in the country, to aggravate social tension, disorganise the work of the branches and bodies of state power.

As you know I have just signed the Decree on All-Ukrainian Referendum initiated by the people. Monitoring and accounting for public opinion will be instrumental in solving vital and urgent question of creating an efficient structure of state power and its consolidation.

It is simply impossible to move on under the conditions of constant disagreement and confrontation between legislative and executive branches of power.

More and more people who initiate and support the idea of the referendum come to this conclusion.

All the above in the aggregate determine the logic of my actions.

We focus our attempts on solving domestic problems, but we pay equal attention to pursuing active, and more importantly, productive foreign policy.

After all, these are closely linked components of the state policy.

Joining the European Union is among the strategic objectives of Ukraine at the international stage.

We hope that successful implementation of domestic reforms will in the long run allow us to count on the associative membership in the EU, and hopefully full membership at a later stage. In this context, I want to express my high evaluation of the possibilities, opened for both sides by the Joint strategy of the European Union concerning Ukraine, which was recently approved at the Helsinki Summit.

Further more, I would like to emphasise a truth, even an axiom, which is of principal importance for the foreign policy of Ukraine: our European future is inseparable from our strategic partnership with Russia.

This is an unconditional postulate, as well as the next one: strong democratic Russia is impossible without normal friendly relations with Ukraine. On a wider scale state of Ukraine-Russia relations determine to a large extent stability and security in Europe.

That is why I consider it important to enhance every positive achievement in our relations, that has been made in the last few years.

As you know, I emphasised more than once the necessity of deepening our strategic partnership with the USA.

Considerable potential of developing full-scale cooperation between the two countries was confirmed once again by the Ukraine-US Bi-national Commission, which was held at the end of last year in Washington.

I have no doubts that the role and importance of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the USA will continue to grow, since it is an important factor of Euro-atlantic stability, an essential component of the 21th century security architecture.

Another priority for us has always been our relations with neighbouring countries.

New level of trust between Ukraine and Poland, which has considerably increased in recent years, opens wide prospects for the development of cooperation between our two countries.

We will deepen interaction and cooperation with Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Turkey and Belarus.

Another important vector of Ukrainian foreign policy runs through the development of cooperation with West European countries, Central European region and the Baltics, all the CIS countries.

Bilateral relations with the countries of the Middle and Far East, South and East Asia, Africa, North and Latin America will be given new impetus.

On a wider scale we proceed from the fact that at this stage, when Ukraine has entered a critical stage of radical economic transformations, it needs stability on the continent and in the world on the whole, like never before.

Subsequently, our cooperation with the leading structures of European and Euro-atlantic security, namely OSCE and NATO, gains additional importance.

The status of non-permanent member of the UN Security Council opens new possibilities for our country. Ukraine will use all its influence and authority in the sphere of nuclear disarmament to preserve the current security system.

We will continue our participation in the peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, while raising our mediating activities in Trans-Dnister settlement, as well as sustaining stability in the Caucasus.

Unique geo-strategic position and role of Ukraine as an active producer of security on the continent provide significant ground for becoming in the future one of the major transportation and communication crossroads, oil trunk pipelines in particular.

We are ready for this and will make powerful efforts at the described directions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today Ukraine has created exceptionally favourable conditions for radical reforms. We have a detailed programme of action and the Government capable of its implementation. We have the required desire and will.

However, we need international support today like never before, that of our partners and international financial institutions.

We hope to resolve the issues of promoting Ukrainian goods on foreign markets, full utilisation of our enterprises' capacities in the international cooperation system, restructuring of our foreign debts, increasing influx of foreign investments into our economy.

I am convinced that stable, economically strong Ukraine is a necessity and an asset for its own people, but also for Europe and the World as an important factor of stability, security and peace.

I am pleased to point out that our foreign partners understand that. I would like to express my sincere and deep gratitude to you, Honourable Ambassadors, as well as the stuff of diplomatic missions for the efforts you make to facilitate and consolidate this understanding.

I reiterate: it is for our mutual benefit.

In conclusion I would like to greet you cordially with the New Year and wish happiness, health and prosperity to you and your families, as well as peace, progress and wellbeing - to your people.

I thank you for attention

For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400,