Speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine A.M.Zlenko during breakfast at the National Press Club
Ottawa, 26 March 2001
Thank you, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, allow me to thank you, Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to speak at such an authoritative press club.
The common purpose of today's meeting is clear. We are united by the thoughts about Ukraine - a 50-million-people state in Eastern Europe with an ancient past and an interesting, dynamic present.
I don't want to dwell on the millennia of history of our country. Just witness the grand exhibit of "Legacy in Gold - the Scythian Treasures from Ancient Ukraine" currently being shown with success at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
Today, however, we have a different theme - the present day of Ukraine. It's a Ukraine that will mark her tenth anniversary in this August.
The country which is building its market economy, promoting democratic principles, peacefully coexisting with its neighbours and looking forward to its future within united Europe.
Allow me to dwell on our latest accomplishments as well as our current problems. Good news first.
I happened to hear that our last year spring was recognised as "the Spring of Ukrainian Renaissance".
It is hard to convey the feelings of Ukrainian people who, perhaps for the first time since independence, have witnessed the positive results of social reforms.
Undoubtedly, the last year was a turning-point for Ukraine and first of all in its economic dynamics. The economy has overcame its crises. For the first time since 1989 real economic increase has been achieved of its basic parameters.
The basic economic results of 2000 year confirmed the drastic changes. First of all it is a synthesising indicator - the GDP grew last year by 6%.
The industrial production has been steady increasing,
appreciable shifts have marked the agrarian reforms.
The revival in the investment activity, improvements in the budget and bank spheres, essential increase of export potential are among positive changes of the last year.
The recognition of Ukraine by the European Union as a country with market economy has become a milestone event.
It is very important that such positive changes have been achieved with reduction of the Ukraine's external debt by more than 2 bin. US. dollars and increase of currency reserves, and, on the other hand, - with actual absence of the crediting of the Ukrainian economy by the international financial institutions.
Today, there are all grounds to say that for the years of reforms in the Ukrainian economy, the essential growth potential has been formed; there are appreciable positive shifts in the maintaining of Ukrainian citizens' well-being.
It is clear that there are still many painful problems on the agenda. The main thing is that a lot of work have been done on this way. But positive changes shouldn't be "ignored" under negatives.
We realise that the last events regarding the case of the disappeared journalist Georgui Gongadze and so called "cassettes scandal" put on stake all our achievements.
The questions about Ukraine, the course of reforms and Ukraine's future are spreading more often. In this connection I wish to reaffirm that the Ukrainian I/ Government remains committed to the obligations to its people, the/j international community and our partners abroad.
The President and the Government are to follow the elected course transforming Ukraine into a law-based country, conducting market reforms, deepening friendship relations and meaningful cooperation with foreign states.
Cooperation with the European Union remains our strategic priority. And not only in foreign policy.
Ukraine's aspiration to build economically strong state, to achieve stability and public accord are the main principals of the European life today. I put a sign of equality between the European choice and well-being of the Ukrainian citizens.
At the same time, the Ukrainian course to the European integration can not be isolated from the strategic partnership with our largest neighbour - the Russian Federation.
Today it is completely obvious that to succeed at only one separate direction is impossible.
Our stable relations with Russia are no less than a component of Ukraine's euro-integration policy or an exam for our "European maturity", if you would like.
Our own interests, the needs of the Ukrainian economy and the essence of the strategic partnership demand this choice.
Tomorrow my visit to the United States will begin. The planned talks in Washington are expected to give impetus to the active dialogue with the new American administration, to determine ways of the crystallising of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the USA.
The American Foreign Policy makes the main stress on the "pragmatism" and "conformity to the national interests". This suits Ukraine.
We speak about the new pragmatism and maximum adherence
of our foreign policy to the domestic needs as well.
The relations of the strategic partnership are being developed actively between Ukraine and the Republic of Poland in economic, political and security spheres with the maximum national interests accounting of both sides.
In the current situation, as always, we are open to dialogue with our partners. We are ready to put forth common efforts in order to overcome the difficulties, which have arisen in the internal politics of our country.
We welcome and will accept constructive criticism in our address as well as assistance in best solving of the problems known to you.
I sincerely believe that the Ukrainian society will come out of this situation stronger, and the opposition and the Government will coexist in a civilised manner.
It has been a painful experience both for me and my compatriots, as well as for the friends of Ukraine abroad.
At the same time, I perceive this as a natural process of formation of a democratic society, a test the new political system of Ukraine must pass.
At the moment, I must draw your attention to the following: whatever the claims and goals of the Ukrainian opposition representatives may be, their activities so far have only achieved one practical result - destabilisation of the internal situation.
The political instability is an impact on the economic revitalising of Ukraine, its discrediting in the eyes of the world community.
We sacrificed too much efforts to our independence and we cannot afford to have our young democracy and statehood destroyed.
Democracy doesn't give a right to make wrong choice,
especially when it is Ukraine with such potential put on stake. At the same time, I quote in French, contrairement au cafe soluble, la democracie n 'est pas instantanee.
And yet I am certain that Ukraine will demonstrate enough strength and wisdom to meet the occurred challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Every time I step on the hospital Canadian soil, I get this unequivocal feeling.
For me Canada is not only a state - partner of Ukraine. It is a country cited by the UN as the one having the highest standard of living in the world.
I always believe this must be the result of hard work of many generations of Canadians, including my fellow countrymen - Canadian Ukrainians.
I had the honour of witnessing the beginning of interstate
relations between Canada and Ukraine.
When I was the first head of the Foreign Ministry of our young Ukrainian state, I put my signature under the Declaration of relations between Canada and Ukraine and later the Joint Declaration of Special Partnership between Canada and Ukraine.
My professional duties allowed me to keep an eye on the most important stages in our relations.
Moreover, I feel myself personally responsible for the development of partnership between our two countries and, being in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I am glad to be able to contribute more.
One of my goals of the present visit is to give that partnership a concrete meaning together with my Canadian colleagues. Thus, today I shall be meeting with the Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Grey, the Speaker of the House of Commons Piter Milliken, the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Manley and others colleagues to discuss all the aspects of our relations.
Ukraine's high priority is permanent enhancing of the close multilevel cooperation with Canada.
We find it necessary for many reasons.
The people of Ukraine will always remember that Canada was the first Western country to give Ukraine official recognition.
Figures alone cannot convey the significance of Canadian aid granted in connection with many vital issues and the most painful of them is the Chornobyl disaster and its aftermath.
We have acquired considerable experience in our cooperation in the framework of the international organisations.
In particular, thanks to a friendly Canadian support, some urgent Ukrainian matters were brought to the attention of the Group of Seven, as well as found their desirable solution within the international financial organisations.
The facets of mutually beneficial cooperation between Canada and Ukraine are especially visible within the framework of the United Nations Organisation. This March Ukraine is presiding in the Security Council of the UN. I can note with satisfaction that we have succeeded to establish effective cooperation at the Security Council.
Foreign trade has always been important for both Ukraine and Canada, and it forms a significant part of the GDP of our countries.
Today, increasing the amount of trade and economic cooperation between our two countries is vital, it still lags behind the level of political relations.
Still, I am glad to report that during the last year some progress had been made.
The figures are insignificant compared to Canada's trade with the US, but if one looks at the East-European countries, we are not far behind. In the year 2000 the trade between Canada and Ukraine amounted to $148 million Canadian dollars, compared to $70 million Canadian dollars in the previous year. In other words it shows notable tendencies of growth.
Looking into the future, I see a potential for expanding our cooperation in the sphere of nuclear energy and nuclear safety, energy conservation and telecommunications.
Another area of partnership is cooperation in promoting Canadian international initiatives for preservation of culture and protection of cultural sovereignty, so important both for Canada and Ukraine, given the globalisation trends.
We would greatly appreciate Canada's consulting assistance with regard to freedom of speech, development of the Ukrainian mass media, and building of a civil society in our country.
There is much work ahead, but we are ready and willing.
Thank you for your attention, and I am waiting for your questions.
For more information, please contact:
2001 03 27