Ukraine celebrates the 8th Anniversary of Independence
On 24th August Ukraine's people celebrates the Independence
Day. It was eight years ago when the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine proclaimed
Ukraine's state independence. 90.3 per cent of all eligible voters confirmed
this choice at the all-Ukrainian Referendum on 1st December 1991. Ukraine
was the only NIS, which brought the issue of independence to the nation-wide
referendum. Thus, a new period of building the state began in Ukrainian
Ukraine moves along the way of consistent reforms in order to ensure a stable economic growth and to accelerate transition to market economy.
In spite of current difficulties, President and Government are determined to continue the course of reforming the Ukrainian economy.
Among Ukraine's main achievements in domestic politics during 8 years of its independence one may mention political stability in the society, guarantee of renewing the structures of power through a general, open and honest election, adoption of the Constitution which pronounces priority of democratic values as its Fundamental Law. Comprehension of human rights and freedoms as an inalienable component of contemporary public society has consolidated in our country. Political pluralism, freedom of speech, freedom of travel and other democratic ideals became part of public life. Ukraine moves ahead with confidence toward further reforms, based on the principles of not conflicts, but public consensus.
Establishing Ukraine's authority in the world as a democratic European nation under today's conditions assumes a principal significance - requires a thorough analysis of components that form its positive image. Together with political and economic factors, Ukraine's achievements in humanitarian spheres and its contribution to the world science and culture acquire even greater importance and influence the successive integration of the country into European and world processes.
Essential is Ukraine’s success and experience in solving the problems of national minorities and inter-ethnic relations. During the years of independence Ukraine managed to prevent any escalations on these sensitive issues while resolving the problems connected with return and settlement of deported peoples. Ukraine's positive experience in guaranteeing the national minorities' rights was widely acknowledged in the world, also at the level of OSCE and the Council of Europe.
At present stage the social-economic situation in Ukraine remains complicated, but one can see some positive tendencies. Due to measures taken by the President of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers and National Bank we managed to minimize losses caused by the last year financial crisis, to restore macroeconomic stability and improve the situation in the real sector of economy. During the first half of 1999 the industrial production grew by 0.2 per cent, and in June, in comparison with the last year June, by 4.7 per cent.
Anti-inflation measures of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and National Bank in the current year helped to overcome the negative tendency, namely: the growth of the price for industrial production goods 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 exports of aluminium, wood and its articles etc., grew.
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 the everyday activity of the MFA and diplomatic missions abroad. Our foreign policy has become one of the instruments of solving the main task, i. e. to ensure economic growth of the country and well-being of our citizens.
An important part in the strategy of Ukraine's foreign policy activity has to be played by use of gains made during eight years of independence in order to enhance an economic situation inside the country for benefit of each citizen, for materializing the achievements on the international arena and transferring the cooperation with partners to the practical plane. Strengthening of the economic component of both the domestic and foreign policy of the country meets now urgent requirements of time.
Recently Ukraine has managed to reach a tangible progress in relations with Western countries. In near future the economic face of Europe will be determined by the enlarged and reformed European Union (EU), and in the field of strengthening the security - joint efforts of European organizations in elaboration and implementation of a new system of European security in the 21st century. Ukraine consistently pursues its strategic course for integration into European Union as the main foreign policy priority. During this period of time a certain progress was achieved in implementing the provisions of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between Ukraine and the EU and Ukraine's advancement on the way of strengthening the relations with the EU.
Over this period relations between Ukraine and the EU reached a qualitatively new level. Officially declared became Ukraine's will to acquire an associated membership (initially) and then a full-fledged one (on reaching the so-called Copenhagen criteria) of our country in the European Union. Considerable progress was made in mutual understanding of the sides and drawing together their approaches to the solution of major problems in bilateral relations.
The Third Ukraine - EU summit that took place in Kyiv on 23 July 1999 became a significant step of further intensification of relations between Ukraine and the European Union. During the summit some progress has been reached in acknowledging Ukraine's course for integration into the EU by the Eurounion, and it more broadly declared the support of Ukraine's integration into European and Euroatlantic structures. At this meeting on the highest level, the Eurounion once more confirmed its intention to promote Ukraine's joining the WTO, and it was agreed to start preparation of a free trade area between Ukraine and the EU.
Holding the 6th informal meeting of the Presidents of Central European countries (Lviv, 14 to 15 May 1999), in which the Presidents of Ukraine, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Hungary and Czech Republic took part, became a perceptible attainment of Ukrainian diplomacy in the Central European direction of foreign policy. A fruitful exchange of thoughts took place on pressing questions of cooperation between the countries of the region in the context of creating a new geopolitical situation in Europe through the prism of the human dimension relative to European and regional integration. The participants of the meeting expressed their support of the reformatory course of Ukrainian leadership, our country's striving for integration into European and Euroatlantic structures. Heads of 10 states adopted the Joint Declaration on the settlement of the Kosovo crisis.
On the whole, the Lviv Summit became a tangible event in the foreign policy life of Ukraine and convincingly testified growth of Ukraine's authority both in the European and regional context.
Continuing to apply logical efforts as for development of regional cooperation, the President of Ukraine L.Kuchma put forward an initiative concerning holding an International Conference " Baltic - Black Sea cooperation: toward united Europe of the 21st century free of dividing lines". Heads of State and Government from the countries of the Baltic and Black Sea regions will meet in Yalta on 10 to 11 September to discuss prospects and directions of development of international cooperation in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres. The Conference will become one more Ukraine's contribution to strengthening stability and expansion of integration processes on the European continent and confirm Ukraine’s growing role as regional leader and a strategic link between North and South of Europe.
Our country's active participation in the summit of the Heads of State and Government from the member countries of the Stability Pact for South - Eastern Europe, held in Sarayevo on 30 July 1999 in which the President of Ukraine L. Kuchma took part, as well as decision to send the Ukrainian military contingent to the peace-keeping forces in Kosovo testifies to deepening of cooperation with the EU in the field of common foreign and security policy of the European Union.
Practically since the first days of independence, taking into account its specific geopolitical situation, Ukraine stood for the dialogue and cooperation with such important actors of European security structure as NATO and 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 eighth year of Ukraine's independence was marked by tangible progress in development of bilateral mutually profitable cooperation with the CIS countries.
Ukraine made a number of undoubted advances in developing 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. Attitude to Russia - the neighbouring country with which Ukraine is united by historical, cultural and economic ties - as to a strategic partner remains a priority direction of Ukrainian foreign policy.
Ukraine's strenuous efforts aimed at practical filling of this foreign - policy line resulted in significant positive changes in bilateral relations. The most important recent achievement is completion of establishing the legal base of Ukrainian - Russian relations.
This year the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia came into force. The Treaty approval has become the logical result of the whole epoch in the establishment of the two sovereign states and, at the same time, the beginning of qualitatively new stage in their interrelations. "The Great" Treaty lays reliable legal basis of Ukrainian - Russian relations, creates new possibilities for the comprehensive development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation. One of the most important aspects of the Treaty is the legal recognition by the parties of the territorial integrity of each other and inviolability of their existing borders. Strengthening of good-neighbourhood between Ukraine and the RF is an important factor of increasing stability and security on the European continent. The Treaty fixed the aspiration of the parties to make every effort to develop a new architecture of the European security. In 1999 the basic agreements on the RF Black Sea Fleet also came into force, which determine the status of its stay on the territory of Ukraine. Besides, the process of ratification of the Treaty on long-term Ukrainian - Russian economic cooperation up to 2007 has been completed that determines the trends and mechanisms of economic cooperation in the context of strategic partnership relations. Tangible achievements in bilateral relations also include the process of delimitation of Ukrainian-Russian border.
Among the top priorities of Ukraine's foreign policy a special place belongs to the development and deepening relations of strategic partnership with the United States of America. An active political dialogue at the high level between Ukraine and the USA testifies that strategic partnership between the two countries acquires more and more concrete dimension, is an important component of international security. Regular political dialogue, military-technical and economic cooperation are intensively developing between Ukraine and the USA. In 1998 trade turnover between the two states was 1.046 million USD, by 11.4% more compared to 1997 (939 million USD). The total volume of the USA direct investments into Ukraine's economy amounts to 509.6 million USD that is 24.7% of the total volume. In January 1999 in Ukraine there were 987 enterprises with participation of the American capital.
Implementation of the "Kharkiv Initiative" is an important aspect of bilateral cooperation. The Second Ukrainian-American Business and Investment Conference in the field of power engineering with the participation of the representative official delegation of the USA and wide circle of the American businessmen has become the first step within the framework of implementation of this project.
Last year was also marked by tangible progress in the development of good-neighbourly partnership relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, of the Balkan region.
In the European direction of foreign policy the relations of strategic partnership with Poland acquired more concrete content, which were characterized, first of all, by high dynamics of political dialogue at the highest level. Convincing evidence of this became the official visit of the President of Ukraine L.D.Kuchma to the RP (June 23-25-) which gave an impetus to the development of practical cooperation between both countries, also at the regional level.
An important step in development of trade and economic relations has become signing on October 23, 1998 the Treaty between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova on economic cooperation for 1998-2007; the Programme of long-term economic cooperation is an integral part of it. The process of solving the issue of ownership for railroad facilities, which lasted during six years, has been completed. The work is performed over the Treaty on the State Border between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, which is to be signed in the course of the official visit of the President of the RM P.Luchinsky to Ukraine.
Ukraine continues to take an active part in the settlement of the Trans-Dniestrian conflict. On the initiative of the President of Ukraine, on July 16, 1999 in Kyiv the meeting of the Presidents of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Head of the Government of the Russian Federation was held with participation of the representative of the Chairman in Office of the OSCE and the leader of the Transdniestria, on the settlement of the Trans-Dniestrian problem. The President of Ukraine proposed the concept of a stage-by-stage settlement of the relations between the Republic of Moldova and Transdniestria, which was appreciated by all the participants of the negotiating process.
Of special significance for the development of Ukrainian-Byelorussian relations was the signing in the course of the visit of President of Ukraine L.D.Kuchma to Byelorussia on December 11-12, 1998 of the Treaty on economic cooperation for 1999-2008. The Agreement between Ukraine and the RB on cooperation in ensuring the rights of persons who belong to national minorities, signed in Kyiv on July 23, 1999, will contribute to meeting the cultural needs and protection of rights of almost 300-thousand Ukrainian community in Byelorussia.
The Ukrainian-Romanian relations developed in the context of realization of the basic bilateral political Treaty and further deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation. In particular, it concerns continuation of the negotiating process as to conclusion of the Treaty on the regime of state border between Ukraine and Romania and Agreement on delimitation of continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of both countries in the Black Sea (5 rounds of negotiations were held), establishment of constructive dialogue in the sphere of securement of the rights of national minorities (the activity of the relevant intergovernmental Commission was started, the process was initiated on creation of multilingual institute at the Chernivtsi State University with Ukrainian, Rumanian, German and Hebrew languages) and development of regional cooperation.
Deepening of the comprehensive cooperation with the countries of the Caucasian region is an indication of the positive changes in Ukrainian foreign policy. An essential impetus was given to Ukraine's cooperation with Georgia and Azerbaijan in realization of the European and regional transport projects, direction of goods and traffic flows from the countries of Asia, Caucasus to Europe through Ukraine, Caspian oil transportation by the Ukrainian route: Baku - Supsa - Odessa - Brody - countries of Europe. The political dialogue at the top level contributed to this fact to a great extent. The visit of the President of Ukraine L.D.Kuchma to Georgia in April 1999, his participation together with the Presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the inauguration of Supsa oil terminal and railroad ferry Poti – Illichivsk - Varna has become convincing evidence that Ukraine considers its participation in joint transport projects as an important component of its regional policy aimed at diversifying economic ties. The official visits of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to Georgia and Azerbaijan in June-July, 1999 contributed to these goals.
Ukraine's cooperation with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova within the framework of consultative forum of GUAM was marked by further development, and after the meeting of the Presidents of these countries in April this year in Washington, Uzbekistan also joined this forum. The enlargement of GUUAM testifies to the economic efficiency and political attractiveness of this form of cooperation.
Actions of the Ukrainian diplomacy assisting in the settlement of Georgian - Abkhazian and Karabakh conflicts contributed to Ukraine's image as a skilful mediator in the Caucasian region, its role as an essential factor of regional security and stability.
Ukraine continued to dynamically develop relations with the countries of the Balkan Region. In the context of the settlement of Kosovo crisis Ukraine proposed a number of peacekeeping initiatives which were highly appreciated both by the countries of the region and international community. Our state rendered humanitarian assistance to the refugees from Kosovo in Albania and Macedonia. By mutual agreement with the municipality of Novi Sad (Yugoslavia), a group of children from the Yugoslavian families came for recreation in Ukraine.
The decision to send the peace-keeping contingent to this region as part of the international forces (KFOR) is the logical continuation of the policy concerning the participation in the process of settlement of the Yugoslavian crisis.
The issues of multilateral cooperation are being elaborated in respect of reconstruction of economic infrastructure of the region, Ukraine's active participation in realization of the provisions of Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe.
Ukraine also remains an active participant of the international community's efforts on implementation of Dayton agreements. Peace-making activities of the Ukrainian contingent, which was included into the group of multinational forces on stabilization, got a high appreciation by the official Sarayevo.
Great attention in the activities of MFA of Ukraine was given to development of relations with the countries of Western Europe. A special accent has been made on foreign trade and economic aspect.
Ukrainian - German contacts on all levels during 1998 - 1999 were characterized by the rich content and considerable extent of mutual confidence. During the presidency of Germany in the EU, the WEU and "G-7" in the second half of 1998, new possibilities for deepening of the Ukrainian - German cooperation, especially with taking into account the dynamic of the European integration processes, have been created.
Deepening of bilateral Ukrainian - French cooperation led to ensuring of resolute support by France of our country in relations with the world and European financial and banking institutions. Obtaining by Ukraine of the next tranche of EFF loan from IMF becomes a confirmation of this. Further assistance in promoting the Ukrainian - Russian project of creation of the European military - transport aircraft on the basis of ANTONOV-70 and cooperation of Antonov Design Bureau with French companies "Aerospatial" and "Reims Aviation" (in joint production of ANTONOV-140) are just a few successful examples of trade and economic cooperation.
Acquiring in February 1999, together with the USA, France and Great Britain, the status of observer in influential regional organization - the Baltic Sea States Council (BSSC) is an important Ukraine's achievement in the North-European direction. Cooperation of Ukraine with BSSC includes joint projects in transport, energy, environmental protection and also in the field of "soft security" (combating organized crime, illegal migration, illicit traffic of drugs).
The eighth year of independence has been marked by intensified bilateral cooperation with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean basin in political, economic and humanitarian fields.
The visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (April-May, 1999) to five leading countries of the Latin America - Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, and Peru may be noted as the central event in developing cooperation with the countries of this region. This visit gave a new impetus to bilateral cooperation, contributed to political consolidation of positive changes which took place in bilateral relations of Ukraine with Latin American countries, and foremost - resulted in specific agreements and economic contracts concluded by accompanying businessmen.
It is important to maintain relations with traditional partners in Africa and Asia. 19 embassies of Ukraine have been opened in these regions and successfully operate during these years.
China is one of the biggest trade partners of Ukraine; export of Ukraine to the PRC makes up 6 to 8% of our total exports. The trade with China is stable and therefore beneficial for both sides.
Republic of Korea became one of the biggest investors to Ukraine's economy. In spite of the fact that certain financial and organizational difficulties were experienced by the most known JV "AUTOZAZ - DAEWOO", joint projects of Ukrainian and Korean automobile industries allowed to renovate production capacities of the plant, to increase the assortment and improve the quality of production.
During the years of Ukraine's independence, Japan became one of the donors of credits, humanitarian and technical assistance for Ukraine. 200-million credit of Japanese Eximbank has been provided to Ukraine, and the new credit, amounting to 85 million US dollars, is expected. Unchanging is the assistance of Japan in international financial organizations during decision making concerning credits of the IMF and the World Bank for Ukraine.
Diplomatic activities in Southern Asia have been stimulated appreciably.
Ukraine plays a considerable part in the issues of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which have been accentuated to a great extent after nuclear testing by India and Pakistan. Using its authority as a state that for the first time in the history of mankind on its own will has renounced its weapons of mass destruction, Ukraine made a significant contribution into global nuclear disarmament. The meeting of London Task Group on India and Pakistan (in Kyiv), established after nuclear testing in Southern Asia, became the next step in the direction of diminishing nuclear confrontation.
Ukraine faces many problems in all spheres of life. However, the democratic choice of the country remains invariable. Ukraine, being on the way of reforming and building a democratic European country, will move in this direction in the future, solving all issues in a civilized manner, adhering to its obligations before partners and in full respect of 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.