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Press Release

Ukraine celebrates its 8th Anniversary of Independence

August 24, 1999

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24 August Ukrainian is the Independence Day of Ukraine. It was eight years ago that the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed Ukraine's state independence. 90,3 per cent of all eligible voters confirmed this choice at the landslide Referendum on 1 December 1991. Of all the states that emerged with the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine was the only one to bring the issue of independence to a nation-wide discussion. Thus, a new period of state-building began in Ukrainian history.

Ukraine is now moving along the way of consistent reforms in order to ensure stable economic growth and to accelerate transition to market economy. In spite of current difficulties, the President and the Government of Ukraine are determined to continue the course of reforming the national economy.

Among Ukraine's main achievements in domestic policy during the eight years of its independence one may mention political stability in the society, the guaranteed renewal of the structures of power through a general, open and honest election, the adoption of the Constitution which pronounces priority of democratic values as its fundamental law. The Comprehension of human rights and freedoms as an inalienable component of contemporary public society has consolidated our nation. Political pluralism, freedom of speech, freedom of travel and other democratic ideals have become apart of public life. Ukraine moves ahead with confidence toward further reforms, based on the principles of not conflicts, but public consensus.

Establishing Ukraine's reputation in the world as a democratic European nation is of principal significance. Together with political and economic factors, Ukraine's achievements in humanitarian sphere and its contribution to the world science and culture are getting even greater importance and influencing the successive integration of the country into European and world processes.

Ukraines success and experience in solving the problems of national minorities and inter-ethnic relations are essential. During the years of independence Ukraine managed to prevent any escalations on these sensitive issues while resolving the problems in connection with return and resettlement of the formerly deported peoples. Ukraine's positive experience in guaranteeing the national minorities' rights has been widely acknowledged in the world, namely by the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

At present stage the social-economic situation in Ukraine remains complicated, but several positive tendencies are readily apparent. Due to the measures taken by the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Bank we managed to minimise losses caused by the last year's financial crisis, to restore macroeconomic stability and improve the overall economic situation. During the first half of 1999 the industrial production grew by 0.2 per cent, and in June, in comparison with last June, by 4,7 per cent.

This year's anti-inflation measures of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the National Bank have helped overcome a negative tendency the price growth for industrial production goods that exceeded the growth of the consumer prices at the end of 1998.

Some positive tendencies also include gradual growth of monthly volumes of production export (goods and services), in comparison with the corresponding period of the last year, export volumes of agricultural production (particularly fats, oil, sugar, and tobacco) increased by 14.4 per cent. Also grew the exports of aluminium, wood and wooden articles etc.

The 8-year experience confirms that the foreign policy course chosen by Ukraine is a reliable means for protection and promotion of the country's national interests in the world. In this context the economic aspect of foreign policy will remain a major priority in everyday activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions abroad. Our foreign policy has become one of the instruments of solving the main task, which is to ensure economic growth of the country and well-being of its citizens.

An important part in Ukraine's foreign strategies has to be played by the use of gains achieved during eight years of independence in order to enhance the economic situation in the country for the benefit of each citizen, for materializing the achievements on the international arena and adding to the cooperation with Ukraine's partners a more practical content. Strengthening of the economic component of both domestic and foreign policies of the country meets the urgent requirements of the time.

Recently Ukraine has managed to reach tangible progress in its relations with Western countries. In near future, the economic face of Europe will be determined by the enlarged and the reformed European Union (EU), and in the field of strengthening the security, by joint efforts of European organizations in elaborating and implementing a new system of European security for the 21st century. Ukraine consistently pursues its strategic course for integration into the European Union as the priority in the foreign policy.

Our country's active participation in the summit of the Heads of State and Government of the member-countries of the Stability Pact for South - Eastern Europe, held in Sarajevo on 30 July 1999 in which President Leonid Kuchma took part, as well as the decision to send Ukrainian military contingent to the peace-keeping forces in Kosovo testified to deepening of cooperation with the EU in the framework of common foreign and security policies of the European Union.

Practically since the first days of the renewal of Ukraine's independence, taking into account its specific geopolitical situation, the country stood for the dialogue and cooperation with such important actors of European security structure as the NATO and the WEU. A new practical direction of cooperation and partnership with NATO has been initiated in the field of peacekeeping activity under the UN aegis: through participation of Ukraine's Armed Forces in IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The decision to send the peace-keeping contingent to the Balkan Region as part of the international KFOR is the logical continuation of the policy concerning the participation in the process of settlement of the Yugoslav crisis.

A special place among the top priorities of Ukraine's foreign policy belongs to the development and deepening of relations of strategic partnership with the United States of America and with Republic of Poland in the European direction. The eighth year of Ukraine's independence was marked by tangible progress in the development of bilateral mutually-profitable cooperation with the CIS countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Ukraine made a number of undoubted advances in developing its relations with the Russian Federation. Progress in Ukrainian - Russian relations during the 8th year of our country's independence has shown once more that there is no alternative to friendly, equal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia.

Great attention was given MFA of Ukraine to the development of relations with the countries of Western Europe. A special accent was made on foreign trade and economic aspect. Maintaining good relations with Ukraine's traditional partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America is another priority. 21 Ukrainian embassies have been opened in these regions and successfully operate.

Ukraine plays a considerable part in the issues of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which have been accentuated to a great extent after nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. Using its authority as a state that, for the first time in the history of mankind, voluntarily renounced its arsenal of nuclear weapons, Ukraine made a significant contribution into global nuclear disarmament. The International Task Force on South Asia, established after nuclear testing in Southern Asia, held a meeting in Kyiv last June which has become the next step towards reducing nuclear confrontation.

The eighth year since the establishment of Ukraine-Canada diplomatic relations has been marked by new success stories in the mutually-beneficial bilateral relations. The first official visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Jean Chretien last January saw substantial negotiations between the leaders of the two countries and the signing of several documents that rendered a new impetus to our relations. Canada reiterated its support of the course of Ukrainian leadership towards reforms. Both sides agreed that bilateral trade and economic cooperation need further intensification. Ukraine also stated that its all-round relations with Canada constitutes a priority in Ukrainian foreign policy.

The year saw the continuation of bilateral dialogue at various levels and a broad spectrum of issues of mutual interest were discussed and resolved, ranging from interaction within the UN and other international fora, cooperation in the destruction of anti-personal landmines to the Ukrainian-Canadian parliamentary internship programme.

Ukraine faces many problems in all spheres of life. However, the democratic choice of the country remains unchanged. On the way of reforming and building a democratic European country, Ukraine will continue moving in this direction, solving all issues in a civilized manner, adhering to all its obligations and in full respect of the international law. Celebrating the eighth year of its independence, Ukraine looks forward with confidence, and its future will be inseparably connected with the future of the European family of nations.

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