BRAMA, Nov 10, 2004, 9:00 am ET|
Yushchenko: Foreign Policy
Part II of The right to a European choice
Interview with Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko
Interview conducted by Waldemar Piasecki, New York-Kyiv. Filed November 4, 2004.
(WP) 1. Whom do you see as Ukraine's strategic partners around the world?
(VY) The lines to Ukraine's strategic partners are drawn. These are, without a doubt, the EC, Russia, the United States, Poland. These are the countries to which there are hundreds of historical, economic and cultural threads tying Ukraine. These are the countries where the national interests of Ukraine lie. They are the ones where international organizations offer us support, and are prepared to work with us honorably and equitably.
Ukraine's foreign policy can be neither "pro-Western" nor "pro-Russian." It can only be "pro-Ukrainian." Undoubtedly, while building our foreign policy, we will include the interests and positions of our strategic partners, but the key issues remain Ukraine's national interests. Our goal is to become a transport state, guaranteeing energy, shipping and communications, and resolving security issues. This ties in with our interests and those of the European Union, the Russian Federation, and the U.S. The realization of mutually equitable projects will dictate further cooperation with our strategic partners.
(WP) 2. How do you envision the role of Russia? You acknowledged that the wealth of historical, political, economic, and cultural ties are very important. Russia and Ukraine are very close. A large sector of Ukraine's population identifies itself with the culture and language of Russia. How should bi-partisan relations between your two states take shape?
(VY) Russia is our eternal neighbor. The well being of our citizens and the stability of Europe are dependent on the success of bi-lateral relations between Ukraine and this Russia. We are going to build relations with Russia based on the principles of responsible and open cooperation, transparent and honest policies.
It is essential that that the relations with Russia become truly international rather than inter-clan (inter-oligarchic) relations…to create a trustworthy public foundation, to form stable channels of cooperation between political parties, social organizations, and business circles.
I wrote an open letter to the Russian elite and personally to President Vladimir Putin in which I proposed making a few steps towards meeting one another. The first step - to close the book on the story of "Our motherland - the USSR". The second step - to take account of our agreements from the point of view of the mutual national interests of our two countries. Third step - clearly define the format of cooperation in politics, economics, and culture. Fourth step - implement concrete acts and decisions in all aspects of international relations. Here we start with the creation of a free trade zone, assist each other in joining the World Trade Organization, resolve border disputes, and the cancellation and prevention of any potential for discriminatory measures being taken against citizens of both countries.
Russia's choice - is to build relations either with a Ukraine in which the regime does not have national support and does not fulfill its commitments and obligations, or with a Ukraine that is a reliable, steadfast and prudent partner.
(WP) 3. How do you see the role of Poland in the political and social life of Ukraine?
(VY) Relations between Poland and Ukraine are somewhat more than just relations between strategic partners. I would say that they are warmer - truly friendly. We are concerned for each other. We are always ready to support each other in difficult times and share joy in happy ones. And, what is important is not to avoid discussions about tough questions, but to refrain from politicizing them and using them for domestic goals. Over and over again, I recall the words of my (Polish) friend, Jacek Kuron: "It is the thought that evangelical truths do not apply to reciprocal relations between nations which is un-christian and against the spirit of the Gospel." I am convinced that only forgiveness and the constant striving for dialog lend themselves towards stimulating our relations.
We comprehend the important role played by the Polish intelligentsia and the Ukrainian Diaspora in establishing new relations between Poles and Ukrainians. We do not forget the sent to the nations of Central and Eastern Europe after the 1st Solidarity convention, led by Lech Walesa. Nor do we forget the efforts of the Polish democratic opposition, as remembered by the words of Jacek Kuron, "without an independent Poland, there cannot be an independent Ukraine, and without an independent Ukraine, there is no independent Poland". And this is symbolized by the fact that Poland was the first country in the world to recognize the independence of Ukraine.
Poland has demonstrated on more than one occasion that she is a strategic partner for Ukraine - by all criteria. Removal of visa restrictions between our countries allows Ukrainians to travel to Poland with minimum difficulties. As to the euro-integration of Ukraine - Poland is putting even greater effort toward this end than even the present Ukrainian government. And the Polish president Oleksandr Kwasniewski plays a leading role here.
(WP) 4. You are a proponent of a rapid withdrawal of the Ukrainian military from Iraq. This is supported by a majority of Ukrainians. Is it known why the military is in Iraq? Many Ukrainians in American believe that it is only a ploy by Kuchma to save himself - having absolved himself of compromise by placating the White House [Explanatory note: President Kuchma's commitment of Ukrainian troops to Iraq is viewed as his way of buying U.S. silence regarding the alleged irregularities in Ukraine's election and several unresolved scandals such as the death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze].
(VY) We support a hard-hitting fight against terrorism and securing stability in Iraq, but we are not prepared to pay for the development of democracy in Iraq at the cost of democracy in Ukraine. We cannot leave our military in Iraq as insurance against the indulgences of the current Ukrainian regime and its antidemocratic actions.
Our position regarding the withdrawal of the Ukrainian contigent from Iraq is based on recent changes that occurred in this country. We will be withdrawing our contingent having confirmed our actions with our strategic partners and the new government of Iraq.
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Nov 8 04 - Part I: ELections The right to a European choice. Interview with Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko
Право на європейський вибір. Інтерв'ю з кандидатом в президенти - Віктор Ющенко
Nov 10 04 - Part II: Foreign Policy The right to a European choice
Nov 12 04 - Part III: Ukraine & Family The right to a European choice