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Statement by H.E. Borys Tarasyuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at the Institute of Diplomatic Researches

Caracas, Venezuela, April 26, 1999

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know Ukraine is the second largest country of Europe and Europes geographic center, with the population of over 50 million. In 1991 we regained our independence. This historic decision was overwhelmingly endorsed by All-Ukrainian Referendum when over 90 % of citizens said "yes" to independence.

Since declaring independence the foreign and domestic policies of Ukraine have passed through a certain stage of evolution in defining those priorities that would meet most the national interests of my country.

I must stress that from the very beginning that Ukraine's foreign policy has a clear sense of direction and priority. Since regaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine has emphasized its European identity and its desire to integrate into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and in the first place into the European Union.

However, I should also single out that on top of any countrys foreign policy is the task to create favorable conditions for its internal development, protection as well as promotion of the interests and rights of its legal entities and citizens abroad. In its turn prosperous market economy and democratic environment ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the foreign policy.

One of the main problems that Ukraine had to face right after regaining its independence in 1991 was finding its place in the world and assuring a friendly external environment for its economic and democratic transformations. In that difficult situation Ukraines choice was not isolation but looking for friends and new partners, establishing relations with other countries. And you as professionals in the field of foreign relations better than anybody else understand that this efforts can be successful only if a well established and developed foreign service is created. For newly independent Ukraine to create such service was quite a task in its own.

Right after the World War II Ukraine as a founder of the United Nations got a chance to develop its own school of multilateral diplomacy. Though deprived of the possibility to have direct bilateral relations the highly acclaimed and experienced Ukrainian multilateral diplomacy provided for a solid foundation for developing the foreign service of a newly independent Ukraine from its very first days.

In spite of all challenges inside the country and economic hardships, despite quite "cool' initial welcome to a newcomer in early 90's on the part of the West, consistent and responsible foreign policy of Ukraine earned a wide respect both in the West and among all its region neighbors.

Since the regaining of the independence Ukraine has achieved impressive progress, the scope of which is almost impossible to comprehend without taking into account its recent past. Following the adoption of Ukraine's new Constitution in 1996, we took further steps to strengthen democratic civil society, passed a new election law, managed to achieve good human rights and national minority rights record. Ukraine, the second largest NIS, is the first to achieve a peaceful and democratic passage of both executive and legislative powers national elections.

Let me outline just few achievements of the newly independent Ukraine in the foreign policy flied. Those are particularly impressive since in over 7 years Ukraine established diplomatic relations with more than 150 foreign nations and managed to set up more than 70 diplomatic missions and posts abroad:

    • On 30 January 1992 Ukraine joined the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), then the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe;
    • On 10 March 1992 Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which became the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in May 1997;
    • In February 1994 Ukraine was the first CIS participating country to join the NATO Partnership for Peace Program;
    • In June 1994 Ukraine concluded a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU, which came into force on 1st March last year;
    • On 9th November 1995 Ukraine became a full-fledge member of the Council of Europe;
    • In June 1996 Ukraine joined the Central European Initiative;
    • On 9th July 1997 it signed a Charter on a Distinctive Partnership with NATO.

We are confident and proud that one of the most significant contribution of Ukraine into global security is its role and policy concerning the nuclear disarmament.

At the moment of the dissolution of the USSR, at the end of 1991, Ukraine inherited the world's third largest nuclear weapons poyential - over 1 900 nuclear warheads for ICBMs.

But the leadership of Ukraine made the only one right choice - it opted to become a non-nuclear state. And, adding to the above list of Ukraine's achievements as an independent state, in January 1994 Ukraine signed a trilateral nuclear agreement with the US and Russia, under which all nuclear weapons were moved to Russia to be dismantled. Consequently, Ukraine ratified the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I) in [February] 1994 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in November same year.

Ukraine as one of the first signatories of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signed by most UN member states persistently calls upon the hesitating states to accede to it in order to further strengthen world's nuclear security.

That record of outstanding contribution to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation made it possible for Ukraine to be invited to participate in the so called "London group" comprising of 8+6 countries which was established after the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in the summer of 1998. Ukraine will assume the presidency of the London group in the second half of the current year.

Let me underline that actively shaping a favorable global security environment Ukraine at the same time asserts itself as an active contributor to the stability and security of its own region.

In this regard I will first of all dwell on relations with our largest and the most important neighbor which is the Russian Federation.

Here I can not but refer to the President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine when he said that "cooperation with Russia, with which until very recently we lived in a union and with which we have close historic and human ties ... is in the national interests of Ukraine... . Understandably, we do not relinquish our course towards European integration and the multidirectional character of our foreign policy. Ukraine is too big a power to be restricted to orientation towards one side only."

Addressing the Board (Collegium) of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine on the day of my appointment as Foreign Minister a year ago President Kuchma called for greater efforts to strengthen relations with EU and for greater strategic co-operation with the United States, while increasing diplomatic activity towards Russia, which are unequivocal imperative for Ukraine's foreign policy. The foreign policy which according to the President of Ukraine should be "neither pro-Western, nor pro-Eastern. It should be pro-Ukrainian - determined and dictated by Ukraine vital interests."

Ukraine views existing Trans-Atlantic and European political, economic and security structures, such as the European Union, NATO, OSCE, Council of Europe as essential and reliable as regards to ensuring stability and security on our Continent. As I have already mentioned above Ukraine was the first among CIS countries to negotiate PCA with the EU and the first to join NATO PfP Program. We welcome future EU enlargement and the fact of joining NATO by the three new members as a further extension of the zone of stability, democracy and prosperity in Europe.

It is in the Declaration of the Heads of State and Government participating in the Ukraine-NATO Commission Summit, which took place just two days ago in Washington, that Allies once againg reiterated Ukraine key role in its region and reaffirmed thair conviction that Ukraine shoul continue to play an increasingly important role toward improwing security in Central and eastern Euope.

Therefore the NATO Strategic Concept also approved in Washington just a couple of days ago, especially stresses that Ukraine occupies a special place in the Euro-Atlantic security... and is an importnat partner ... in promoting democratic values. NATO is committed to further strengthening its distinctive partnership with Ukraine, says the new Strategic Concept.

At the same time as one of the founders and participants of the Community of Independent States (CIS) since its creation Ukraine sees the CIS's future more in terms of a framework for promoting and facilitating bilateral relations between interested states and creating free trade zone rather than supranational body. We are satisfied that at the last CIS summit in Moscow on 2nd of April it was this Ukrainian concept which prevailed and was approved as a basis for CIS reformation.

Establishing a diversified network of international economic ties is particularly important to Ukraine, given Ukraine's long history of one sided orientation and especially its dependence on externally-supplied energy sources. Therefore Ukraine is eager to explore alternatives sources of oil and gas supply. One of the perspective opportunities is establishing Ukraine as a transit route for the supply of oil from the Caspian Sea. And one may not exclude, if it is feasible, that Ukraine and Venezuela could also develop their cooperation in the oil business.

Having embarked on the road of radical economic reforms based on the principles of the market economy Ukraine more and more accommodates itself in the global trade and economy. However, while globalization has become a driving force at the international level, and liberalization and economic reforms - a dominant tendency inside the nations, international economic cooperation based on principles of equality, fairness, partnership and mutual benefit becomes increasingly relevant.

Despite all hardships of the economic reforms Ukraines economic, techological and scientific potential places the country among the most developed countries. Notwithstanding decline in production output Ukraine is among the leading space expolration nations. It was the unique experience of Ukrainian rocket builders that allowed us to be one of the participants, along with the US, Russia and Norway, of the Sea Launch project. Under this project Ukrainian designed and build rockets will put into orbit dozens of commercial sattelites. Ukraine aircraft industry is on the equal footing with the European companies, and in some instances, Ukraine heavy lift aircraft are far ahead of the competetors, and have all chances to be the prototip of the FLA. Thus Ukraine is blessed not only with fertile land and mineral resources, but also with hi-tech potential which brings us to the next millenium

Contributing to the solution of vital global issues by fostering internal harmony in the society, projecting stability on its environment, through its active participation in non-proliferation and peace-keeping, by shaping a vast network of regional cooperation, Ukraine gives top priority to strengthening international peace and security and aspires to be elected this year as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the period 2000-2001.

Efficiency of the United Nations future activity will be determined by its ability to respond adequately to the challenges confronting the humanity at the turn of the 21st century. Promotion of the inter-related and integral world, search for the universal human concord, protection and future developing of the values of our civilization and free accessibility to them - these are the main priorities on which the United Nations should concentrate its authority and attention.

Having touched the issue of the United Nations and in the face of the dramatic events in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia I must stress that this only universal Organizations should bear the greatest responsibility for conflict prevention and crisis management. The lessons of Kosovo demonstrate that existing mechanisms of conflict prevention and settlement require serious improvement and strengthening. This problem become even more acute when NATO had to use military force in Yugoslavia in an attempt to stop humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.

Ukraine was one of the first countries to express its readiness to become a mediator in the process of Kosovo crisis settlement. Myself and the Minister of Defence of Ukraine guided by the instructions of the President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine where the first high foreign officials who arrived in Belgrade on 27 March - three days after the start of the air strikes. The aim of the visit was to offer good offices and to present to the Yugoslav leadership Ukrainian plan of the crisis settlement. The Ukrainian initiative was positively met by the international community and was highly acclaimed by the UN Secretary general Kofi Annan during his last meeting with the President Leonid Kuchma in New York.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ukraine is pursuing a balanced policy of developing mutually beneficial relations both with the West and the East, consistently enhancing cooperation not only with its neighbors, but with the states of other regions, in particular, of the Near and Middle East, Asia-Pacific Region, Latin America and Africa.

Ukraine pays special attention to such influential international fora as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of American States (in both of which we enjoy the status of an observer), the Organization of African Unity the Arab League, and strives to develop cooperation with them.

Since I am speaking to Venezuelan audience, let me be specific about some most important issues in our bilateral relations.

On 29 September 1993 the two states established diplomatic relations.

The next step on the way to bringing our nations closer together was mutual appointment of Ambassadors by cross-accreditation respectively in Kyiv and Caracas: in January 1997 the Ambassador of Venezuela to the Russian Federation presented his credentials to the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and in February 1998 the Ambassador of Ukraine to Brazil presented his credentials to the President of Venezuela.

Ukraine is genuinely interested in developing mutually beneficial relations with Venezuela. Your country is an influential player on the international arena, a member of the Organization of American States, the Ands Commonwealth and OPEC.

In his personal message to the President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez Frias on the occasion of the inauguration President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine emphasized the importance of developing bilateral relations between Ukraine and Venezuela for the benefit of our nations.

During this first ever working visit of Ukraine's Foreign Minister to Venezuela this has been developed by extensive exchange of opinions on a full range of issues of our bilateral relations and international topics which present common interest. Bilateral negotiations helped us better understand at what stage both countries are at present and what tasks should be addressed jointly in the future to bring bilateral links to a level which would reveal our still unexplored potentials.

We found significant perspectives for intensification of Ukrainian-Venezuelan cooperation, first of all, in economic sphere. Our country sees real prospects of bilateral cooperation in such field as petrol industry, metallurgy, machine building.

I am glad to reiterate my special thanks to the management of the Institute of Diplomatic Researches for providing this opportunity to address this esteemed audience on the occasion of my working visit to Venezuela.

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: