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Press Release

Ukraine's Foreign Minister H.E. Borys Tarasiuk Addresses National Press Club of Canada

June 13, 2000

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mesdames et Monsieurs,

It was many years ago when I first visited Canada. And I have to confess that I loved your country at once - for its amazingly beautiful nature, hospitable people and your spirit of freedom.

Sharing my impressions about Canada, I could not say better than your poet Charles Roberts whose 140th anniversary we celebrate this year.

O rivers rolling to the sea
From lands that beat the maple-tree,
How swell your voices with the strain
Of loyalty and liberty!

This is the image of Canada: free, dynamic, full of energy and opportunities that lives in my heart and in the hearts of my fascinated compatriots who came here over a century ago. I am proud that they contributed to this image with their loyalty and hard work, accepting Canada as their motherland.

Canada is one of the places in the world whose people know about the true history of Ukraine, where I feel at ease and at home among friends. No wonder that Canada, together with Poland, was the first state to recognize our independence on the 2nd of December 1991, immediately after the all-Ukrainian referendum. These very warm relations between the Canadian and Ukrainian peoples embraced our political leaders,who in 1994 declared a special partnership between the two countries.

The importance of Canada for Ukraine is also of a psychological nature. For centuries Ukrainians have been fighting to have their own state. They had been persecuted, murdered and famined for this idea. But love for freedom and the need of survival brought them to Canada, where they materialized their dream, built their "little, prosperous and secure Ukraine" in Canada, because they could not do it neither under empires, nor in the Soviet Union. They also participated in the building of the Canadian state which is now respected worldwide as a place of democracy and prosperity. That is why Canada is not only a special partner for Ukraine, but an example of how to build its own state, based on democracy, rule of law and market economy.

This is what we are doing now. A Ukraine of today is not a Ukraine of the 1930s, not even of the beginning of the 1990s. It is becoming a modern European state that builds its future with hard work of its citizens and a clear vision of its leadership. With the "new old" President Kuchma the reformist Government of Prime Minister Yuschenko and the democratized Parliament, it is the right time and a very good chance now to build our "big, prosperous and secure" Ukraine in our own homeland.

Dear Friends,

Today the situation in Ukraine is unique. We live through the second renaissance since 1991. For the last half year we have witnessed unprecedented changes in politics and economy. President Kuchma is fulfilling his election promises by launching administrative, agricultural and energy sector reforms, large-scale privatization of land and enterprises. A new tax code is to be prepared by July. The new Government is trusted by the people who see the first positive results. Despite the suspension of the IMF loans, the economy is on the rise. GDP increased by over 6%, industrial output - by 10,8%. Exports grow. The national currency remains stable. The level of barter transactions goes down.

Since last February a new democratic parliamentary majority was created which made it possible to have a fruitful cooperation among all the branches of power.

Behind this dry summary are the lives of millions of Ukrainians who gradually revive their language and culture; the lives of the youngest generation who are fortunate never to have experienced totalitarianism of the soviet regime.

This resumption of the national identity and a breakaway from stereotypes and old mentality are fully present in the foreign policy of independent Ukraine. Actually, Ukrainian diplomats were the champions in these transformations, because we are lucky to have a more than 80-year-long diplomatic tradition only in this century.

I was glad to notice that the fundamentals of Ukraine's foreign policy have much in common with that of Canada. Both our countries advocate full adherence to the norms and principles of the United Nations, show respect for international law, pay significant attention to human security, pursue resolution of conflicts only by peaceful means, favor global nuclear disarmament.

These fundamentals played a crucial role for the successes of our foreign policy, for rapid integration of the country into the world community. Our record of accomplishments in just nine years is quite impressive. Starting practically from scratch, we have establish diplomatic relations with 166 states, opened 81 diplomatic missions in 62 countries, become member of over 100 international organizations.

L'Ukraine a contribuée énormément à la sécurité planétaire en renoncant du troisième arsénal de l'arme nucléaire dans le monde.Aujourd'hui elle contribue toujours à la sécurité de l'humanité en arrêtant la station nucléaire de Chernobyl le 15 décembre 2000, ce qui a été annoncé par le Président Léonide Kuchma il y a une semaine. Nous espérons, que les pays de G-Cepts ainsi que l'Union Européenne vont nous assister dans ceténorme travail.

L'Ukraine a su présérver integrité et paix intérieur, ma1gré les prédictions de certains politiciens connus de l'Ouest, datées de 1993, sur sa division et sa destruction imminente. Comme au Canada, il habite dans notre pays plus de 100 minorités ethniques et la législation nationale qui protège leurs droits est reconnue exemplaire par le Conseil de l'Europe.

[Ukraine made a major contribution to global security by renouncing the third world largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Today we are going to contribute to human security by decommissioning the Chernobyl station by 15 December 2000, as announced by our President a week ago. We hope that the G7 and EU will remember to fulfill their obligations as well.

Ukraine managed to preserve integrity and peach of the nation, despite predictions of some prominent Western politicians in 1993 about its imminent split and collapse. As in Canada, there are over 100 ethnic minorities in Ukraine, and the national legislation for the protection of their rights is recognized as exemplary by the Council of Europe.]

Promoting peace in its society, Ukraine projects security outside. We have concluded basic treaties with all our neighbors, removing territorial claims, settling border issues, resolving a difficult case of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, negotiating confidence-building measures bilaterally and in the Black Sea area. Our strategic partnership with Poland plays a stabilizing role in Central and Eastern Europe and has a similar meaning for the region as the French-German partnership for Western Europe. We are conscious that friendly relations between Ukraine and Russia are important for overall European stability. Therefore Presidents Kuchma and Putin agreed to follow pragmatic policy trying to give real substance to our strategic partnership.

Using the wording of NATO and EU officials, Ukraine plays a key role for European security and stability. Consistent and balanced foreign policy of Ukraine makes us a natural mediator in conflicts and an active participant in peacekeeping. Together with Canadians we were in SFOR. Ukrainian military and civilians served in UN and OSCE missions in Croatia, Bosnia, Tadjikistan, Angola, Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, Transdnistria. Responding to appeals of the UN, we are sending now our contingents to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lebanon. Ukraine was the first to come to Kosovo on the third day of the airstrikes and to propose a peace plan that later became the basis of the UNSC Resolution 1244. Today 250 militaries and 30 civilian policemen serve in Kosovo. In July we plan to send there our part of the Ukrainian-Polish battalion and a Special Police Unit of 110 men.

Ukraine is an acknowledged regional leader, being a strategic link between Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, and between the North and South of Europe. On the initiative of President Kuchma the Baltic-Black Sea was held in Yalta last September: "Towards Europe of the 21st century without dividing lines", and the summit of Central European States of Lviv in May 1999. Ukraine is a founder Of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, and of the so-called GUUAM forum uniting Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbeki stan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. We are participant of TRACECA and depository of INOGATE. We are contributing to democratization and Europeanization of the Balkans taking part in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

Ukraine's distinctive partnership with NATO and cooperation within the strategic triangles Ukraine-Poland-Canada and Ukraine-Poland-USA ensure our strong transatlantic link with the American continent.

Taking into account the enumerated accomplishments, it was logical that Ukraine was elected to the UN Security Council. We are proud to have Canada as our special partner on the Council. We share many views and face similar challenges there. We both seek strengthening of the role of the Security Council as a primary body responsible for international peace and security, its reform and increasing the role of non-permanent members. We enjoy good cooperation with Canada in resolving the conflicts on the African continent. Our countries support review of the international sanctions policy. We had a fruitful discussion of these issues with Prime Minister Chretien yesterday in Winnipeg.

Mr. Chairman,

In this brief address I have tried to show you a different Ukraine from the one you may have known about from history books or occasional news articles. A Ukraine that has its achievements and its problems, being at a critical point in its internal development. A Ukraine that has made its conscious and irreversible choice of integration into the European structures and Euro-Atlantic partnership, which is welcomed and supported by the European Union and NATO. A week ago such unequivocal support of Ukraine's progress in reforms and its return to Europe was expressed by President Clinton during his visit to Kyiv. We feel and highly value constant support of the Canadian Government, of Prime Minister Chretien.

Distinguished media representatives,

I may hope that after our meeting there will be many interesting and knowledgeable articles about Ukraine. I tried to show you that there is a lot to write about. I also wanted to show you this year's strong historical, political and psychological link between our nations that our leaders feel, support and enrich.

Thank you for your attention.