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4 January 1999
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Foreign Policy of Ukraine in 1998
All the activities of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1998 were centered on the major task of its foreign policy -- that of protection and promotion of Ukraine’s national interests on the international arena. To achieve maximum results the Ministry has repeatedly taken an active position on the whole range of foreign policy issues. It has also undertaken to make foreign policy of Ukraine balanced, predictable and stable, and to render Ukrainian diplomacy professional and insightful.
In 1998, the President of Ukraine paid 19 visits abroad and received 19 heads of state and government in Kyiv. He also attended 27 international events that took place in Ukraine. Ukraine has signed more than 150 bilateral agreements and its consular offices issued 400 thousand visas.
During 1998, Ukraine made certain positive advances along the course toward integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Clear progress became evident in a comprehensive and dynamic development of relations with the EU, as well as in deepening a dialogue between Ukraine and the EU. In fulfillment of the President’s Executive Order of February 24, 1998, On Implementation of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between Ukraine and the EU and Improvement of the Mechanism of Cooperation with the EU, and according to the provisions of the Strategy of Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union, which was adopted on June 11, 1998, the following measures were undertaken:
- June 8-9, 1998 -- an inaugural meeting of the Ukraine-EU Cooperation Council where the Prime Minister of Ukraine made a political statement regarding Ukraine’s aspiration to become an associate member of the EU;
- November 5, 1998, -- a first meeting of the Ukraine - EU Joint Cooperation Committee;
- In the course of 1998, 6 meetings of the Ukraine-EU Troika were held on different levels. The two sides addressed issues related to their bilateral relations and international life, and agreed upon common approaches in resolving specific problems.
The key event in Ukraine’ s relations with the EU was the Second Ukraine-EU Summit, which was held on October 16, 1998 in Vienna. The President of Ukraine and the EU leadership agreed to begin consultations on establishing a free-trade zone between Ukraine and the European Union. In this regard, the EU’s support of the Ukrainian project of Caspian oil transportation toward Western Europe bears particular importance. At the Summit, Ukraine and EU reiterated their intention to implement the Memorandum on Understanding of 1995, which provides for the EU loans aimed at financing the completion of the 4th and 2nd reactors at the Rivne and Khmelnytski nuclear power plants. They also continued consideration of issues related to the ways of encouraging foreign investment in Ukraine, and removing obstacles and restrictions that apply toward Ukrainian producers operating on the European market.
The EU enlargement, along with the obvious positive consequences, can bring about some adverse repercussions for Ukraine and other countries of the region, too. Accession of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the Shengen Agreement, which is a prerequisite for the full-fledged membership in the EU, according to the Amsterdam Agreement, can lead to the introduction of a visa regime for the citizens of Ukraine wishing to enter those countries. It would adversely affect economic, political and cultural ties between Ukraine and its western neighbors and inadvertently cause deterioration in the trade regime that exists between those countries. In view of that, Ukraine began active cooperation with the countries of the EU first wave of enlargement in order to find a mutually acceptable resolution to these problems. In parallel to that, Ukraine undertook measures aimed at accelerating its entry in the World Trade Organization. Participation of the President of Ukraine Mr. Leonid Kuchma, in the informal meetings of the Central European leaders became traditional, and the next meeting of that kind will take place in May 1999 in Lviv (Ukraine). The fact that the last annual meeting of the EBRD Board of Directors was held in Kyiv became one of the signs of Ukraine’s growing prestige on the international arena.
In 1998, Ukraine consistently increased its participation in every field of the OSCE activities. Fruitful, in particular, was cooperation with the OSCE Bureau of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and High Commissioner of the OSCE on National Minorities, the goal of which was to invite international financial assistance to resolve the problems of resettlement of the Crimean Tartars. The mandate of the OSCE Mission in Ukraine expired in 1998, and its contribution toward constructive interaction between the local authorities and their relations with the central institutions of Ukraine was assessed as positive. Ukraine paid considerable attention to cooperation with the OSCE in the economic and ecological dimensions of security on the European continent. Ukraine pursued a course of invigorated participation in conflict resolutions in the regions, where our state has political and economic interests. Our active participation in the peacekeeping operations and efforts conducted under auspices of the UN, OSCE, as well as in the framework of the Stabilization Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was an explicit contribution to strengthening international security.
Ukraine has proved to the world that it is not merely a consumer of security, but a security contributor, as well. Ukraine was active in the OSCE efforts in Kosovo. Eleven representatives of Ukraine are already working as part of the OSCE verification mission in this province. Notwithstanding the successes in the field of conflict resolution, the situations in Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria remain worrisome. These "suspended" or "frozen" conflicts are capable of becoming a source of new threats. In this regard, Ukraine has undertaken measures to accentuate the importance of the OSCE’s increased attention toward these conflicts and emphasizes the need for adequate distribution of funds and efforts toward their resolution. Being one of the guarantors of the process of settlement in Transnistria, Ukraine undertakes to render the peace process more dynamic. The position of Ukraine on resolution of the Abkhaz conflict is also very active. Special attention was paid to Ukraine’s contribution to the development of a comprehensive and universal European security model, which, as we believe, should be based on the harmonious evolution of the existing organizations and security structures.
Among the most salient achievements of 1998 is the enhancement of Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO on the basis of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership and in the framework of the EAPC and Partnership for Peace Program. In this regard, the approval by the President of Ukraine on November 4, 1998 of the State Program on Cooperation between Ukraine and NATO for the period until 2001 was of particular importance. In the course of 1998, Ukraine undertook active steps toward implementation of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between Ukraine and NATO and Individual Program of Partnership. The most important of them were as follows:
- Establishment of the Ukraine-NATO Committee;
- Institution of the Mission of Ukraine at NATO with a status of representation at the international organization;
- Creation of functional units dealing with various aspects of Ukraine-NATO cooperation at relevant ministries and state institutions of Ukraine;
- Defining in cooperation with NATO the main parameters for organizing a crisis consultative mechanism as a vehicle for consultations in case of threats to territorial integrity, state sovereignty and security of Ukraine;
- Signing by the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Protection of the Population from the Consequences of the Chornobyl Catastrophe and NATO of the Memorandum on Understanding on planning in the emergency situations of civil character and preparedness for disasters;
- Commencement of the activity of the Joint Working Group on Military Reform in Ukraine and the Joint Working Group on Planning in the Emergency Situations;
- Agreement on the establishment of the posts of NATO liaison officers in Kyiv.
It was agreed that the Ukraine-NATO summit will take place in the USA in April 1999 in the framework of the NATO summit devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Alliance.
In 1998, the state executive bodies of Ukraine continued their activities aimed at developing cooperation between Ukraine and the Council of Europe, and harmonizing Ukraine’s legislation with European standards. Ukraine proceeded with applying the Council of Europe’s potential to carry out reforms of judicial and court system, in particular by implementing the Joint Program of the European Commission and the Council of Europe on reforming the legal system in Ukraine and by participating in diverse programs of the CE on cooperation in the sphere of law. However, there have been certain issues in relations between Ukraine and the CE. This relates to adopting legislation for the abolishment of capital punishment, development of local administration in Ukraine, preparation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of the report on fulfillment by Ukraine of the obligations undertaken at the time of joining the CE.
Ukraine’s activity in international organizations, in particular those related to the United Nations system, has been aimed at protecting national political and economic interests. Due to its presidency at the previous session of the United Nations General Assembly, Ukraine received and actively used additional means to promote its own interests. Particularly, it actively proceeded to marshal international assistance for minimizing the consequences of the Chornobyl catastrophe. In June 1998, Ukraine held an international pledging conference on resettlement of the Crimean Tartars, during which the participating countries pledged about $3.5 million for this cause. Ukraine also worked on the issue of receiving technical assistance in the framework of the UN Global Program on Money Laundering and on holding an international seminar on organized crime with the participation of experts from Central and Eastern European states. The Economic and Social Council of the UN, on the recommendation of its functional committees, adopted a series of resolutions important to Ukraine, as well. They accentuate the issue of providing support to the countries with economies in transition in the areas of population programs, ecological policy, statistics, social development, crime prevention and the combat against drug trafficking. The UN Development Program has been the most active UN body to cooperate with Ukraine. It has executed a very broad program activity in Ukraine implementing more than 30 projects that are directed toward facilitating processes of democratization, human rights protection, crime prevention and control over the spread of drugs, social integration and regional development. There are also programs aimed at facilitating small and medium-size business development, improving health care services and processes of planning and coordination in the field of environment protection. In fulfillment of the Executive Order of the President, the Foreign Ministry was actively involved in receiving humanitarian assistance from states and international organizations to the Transcarpatian regions that suffered from flooding. It was active in efforts to secure Ukraine’s elections as non-permanent member to the United Nations Security Council for the period 2000-2001.
Last year, the world’s attention was rightfully drawn to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This event was marked by the Yalta International Conference: Human Rights for Human Development. Furthermore, in December 1998, Ukraine held All-Ukrainian readings devoted to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration. Read about the Yalta Conference Report
International cooperation on the sub-regional level remains very important in the foreign policy of Ukraine. In this context, one should mention activity in the framework of the Central European Initiative, in which Ukraine has been a member since 1996, and work in the framework of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, which was created on Ukraine’s initiative. Ukraine pursued cooperation with the Council of the Baltic States, and continued probing the issue of confidence-building in the Black Sea. The Ministry pursued active preparatory work for implementing a proposal of the President Leonid Kuchma to hold a summit of the Baltic and Black Sea states in Yalta in 1999.
Ukraine continued its work aimed at signing agreements on free trade with the member states of the CEFTA and eventually joining this free trade zone. Cooperation in the format of the GUAM was successful, too. It is worth mentioning the meeting of the heads of delegation of the GUAM countries in Oslo in the framework of the OSCE foreign ministers meeting. In view of the decision to renew the Silk Way and bearing in mind the signing of the Baku Declaration, the prospects for such cooperation are considerable. At the tripartile meeting in 1998, the presidents of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania decided to establish "Lower Danube" and "Upper Prut" Euroregions and considered establishment of the free economic zone Reni-Galati-Djurdjulesti. The trilateral cooperation Ukraine-Poland-USA in the areas of macroeconomics, finance, small and middle-size businesses, and reform of local administration was also instituted in 1998. The visits of the President and the Foreign Minister of Ukraine had a distinct economic dimension, and their geography testified to the fact that a major component and an essence of these visits was to create favorable conditions for Ukraine’s foreign economic activity and secure new markets. As an example, one can mention the visits of the President to the Russian Federation, Belorus, Turkmenistan and visits of the Foreign Minister to the South African Republic, China and Kazakhstan.
Fruitful cooperation with the international structures enhanced Ukraine’s possibilities to broaden bilateral relations. In this regard, it is worthwhile mentioning Ukraine’s relations with neighboring Poland and Russia, as well as its relations with the world’s recognized leader -- the USA, and Ukraine’s biggest trade partner in Western Europe -- Germany. There is a trend in Ukrainian-US relations toward higher extent of their institutionalization. Bilateral contacts are regular, and they take place at various levels, encompassing a wide range of issues related to bilateral and multilateral cooperation. On July 22-23, 1998, the Second Plenary Meeting of the Ukrainian-US Binational Commission co-chaired by President Leonid Kuchma and Vice President Al Gore was held in Kyiv. The primary outcome of the meeting was the further strengthening of the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the USA, and deepening of bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation. The visit of State Secretary Madeleine Albright to Kyiv in March 1998 contributed to developing Ukrainian-American relations considerably. The Agreement between Ukraine and the USA on Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy was signed and the resolution of the "Busherh problem" made possible increased cooperation with the USA in the field of nuclear energy and space exploration, too.
The visit of the Foreign Minister of Ukraine to the USA became yet another step toward intensifying Ukraine’s relationship with the United States. Besides political dialogue, the economic cooperation between Ukraine and the USA is also developing, a clear indication of which is the fact that the United States holds the first place in the amount of foreign investment in Ukraine.
In 1998, a particular attention was paid to expanding relations with the Federative Republic of Germany, which is a key trading partner and one of the major Western investors in Ukraine. Cooperation with this country was marked by a series of high level bilateral events: the state visit of the Federal President to Ukraine in February 1998, and the high level bilateral political consultations on May 26-29, 1998. On December 3, 1998 the Foreign Minister of Ukraine paid a working visit to Germany. It was the first contact at the high level after the new Federal Government was formed. In the course of the visit, the two sides considered the parameters of cooperation in light of the Germany’s chairmanship in the G-7 in 1999, as well as in the EU and WEU in the first half of 1999.
In 1998, Ukraine and Poland advanced their mutually beneficial cooperation in all spheres with a view to enhance their strategic partnership. The intensity of Ukrainian-Polish relations at the highest level and productive implementation of the agreements testify to the existence of far-reaching possibilities for expanding Ukrainian-Polish ties. Currently, the two nations are discussing the prospects of beginning direct negotiations to draft an agreement on free trade between Ukraine and Poland. Ukraine and Poland co-sponsored a joint motion to the European Commission regarding the utilization of the PHARE and TACIS funds for the modernization of the infrastructure along the joint border. The customs check-point Krakow-Korchova at the Ukraine-Poland border was opened, and the inter-governmental Agreement on Cooperation in Crediting was signed.
In 1998, a number of important events happened in Ukrainian-Russian relations. The issues of improvement of economic cooperation, ratification of major political Treaty, implementation of joint projects, resolution of legal aspects of border demarcation were in the center of negotiations at different levels. Ukraine considers ratification by the Russian State Duma of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership, which took place on December 25, 1998, as a step that opens new avenues for developing relations with Russia. Although Russia remains Ukraine’s most important trade partner, it should be noted that in 1998 the volume of trade between the two countries decreased twofold. The Russian financial crisis strengthened this tendency and affected the financial and currency situation in Ukraine. Together with Russian partners, Ukraine has exerted efforts to minimize the effects of the crisis and eventually overcome them. In 1998, one could observe a gradual resolution of the old problems in Ukraine-Russia relations. From February 27 to March 1, 1998, the President of Ukraine paid a state visit to the Russian Federation, in the course of which the two sides signed the Treaty and the Program of Long-term Economic Cooperation for the period 1998-2007. In 1998, the process of delimitation of the land border between Ukraine and Russia was started. As of today, the two thirds of the borderline has been agreed upon. At the same time, the delimitation is proceeding too slowly. At the 4th Meeting of the Joint Ukrainian-Russian Commission the two sides agreed to complete this work as soon as possible. The prospects for delimitation of the sea border in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait remain less definite due to the position taken on this issue by the Russian side.
Ukraine paid considerable attention to the problem of reforming the CIS. It believes that there is an urgent need to transform the CIS into a mechanism for negotiations and consultations which would complement establishing qualitatively new bilateral and multilateral relations among the post-Soviet states on the basis of international law. The majority of the participating states share such an approach. Ukraine believes that economic cooperation, particularly establishment of a free trade zone, should become an area of cooperation that would unite the CIS members. Economic cooperation in the framework of the CIS should develop in the context of accession by the CIS countries to the existing international and regional economic institutions and organizations and with due consideration of requirements set forth by the GATT/WTO. Ukraine believes that it is only logical for the CIS to concentrate on the economic cooperation while forfeiting cooperation in the political, military, military-technical, humanitarian, legal, informational, and ecological fields, as well as in the sphere of border protection, conflict resolution and collective defense. Being of the opinion that activity of the Commonwealth should be more effective and less profuse, Ukraine proposes to cancel the existing CIS bodies that duplicate the functions that are already performed by the similar structures of the UN system, Council of Europe, and OSCE.
Results of Ukraine’s activities on the international arena in 1998 provide sufficient grounds for even more significant achievements in 1999.