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12 February, 1999
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ADDRESS BY H.E. MR. LEONID D.KUCHMA
THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE,
TO THE HEADS OF DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS
(12 FEBRUARY, 1999)
Honorable Heads of diplomatic missions,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have a pleasure of meeting you again at this distinguished gathering.
This traditional form of our contacts enables us to look back to the last year, to share our views on its outcome and discuss what is awaiting for us, to extend friendly human contacts we have established, which is equally important for me, and to feel better the attitude of those who represent other nations in Ukraine.
I hope that you are also interested to know my vision of urgent domestic and international problems and approaches to their solution.
While speaking about last year, its appraisal, to a greater extent, can be neither unambiguous nor univariate.
There were certain achievements and losses. Positive trends prevailed in some countries, while in others, on the contrary, situations aggravated.
At the same time, there were events, processes, and tendencies concerning all countries without exception and hitting their interests.
First of all, I mean the world financial crisis, critical aggravation of Iraqi and Kosovo conflicts.
The factors are different, they vary in scale, but it is easy to see that they have a lot of similar points.
At least two principal conclusions can be drawn out of them.
First, changes in the present-day world become more and more dynamic. And all of us may find ourselves on the brink of even greater tectonic shifts.
I dare say all of us proceeding from the second conclusion: the world of today becomes more interconnected still remaining rather unstable. We witness the globalisation of processes all over the world.
I emphasized that idea at the Economic Forum in Davos, and I believe it has been necessary to repeat it for the following reasons.
Requirements, which have always been urgent and elevated now to the level of strict imperatives, are outlined by the realities of the present-day world in a more definite way.
State figures and politicians become more responsible not only for the domestic situation in their countries, but for the whole world order.
Thus, the situation in a certain country, ways and means of its improvement should be considered in the global context, with the account of developments all over the world.
In my view, this preamble is needed to understand better everything underway now in Ukraine, and first and foremost in its economy.
I am a realist, and I am going to be frank: 1998 did not become as we hoped the year of the beginning of our economic growth. Unfortunately, this is true. Though it is also true that we acquired positive tendencies due to enormous efforts and intensive work.
We would have increased the GDP at least by 3.5% in 1998, provided we could retain the rate of its first half of the year. It is easy to imagine, what it could mean after our profound and long decline.
The situation in Ukraine, with its transitional period difficulties, typical for the former USSR countries, was aggravated by a number of specific factors besides the financial crisis. I am not speaking about such factors as the liquidation of Chernobyl disaster aftereffects, or catastrophic flood in Transcarpathia.
I mean our economy is more open, more integrated into the world economy, and all that is linked with the lack of immunity of our fiscal and economic system against the influence of the global crisis. Besides, our economic ties are Russia-oriented to a great extent. This orientation has been historically formed according to old Soviet traditions, due to common frontiers and many other reasons.
Ukraine managed to withstand and to avoid economic collapse thanks to some active and timely measures, but it was just impossible to avoid losses at all.
The GDP reduced by 1.7% in 1998, while inflation made up 20%.
I cannot disregard also drawbacks and faults in determining and pursuing the economic policy.
I do not believe the reform model implemented in Ukraine to be optimum. Its contents and aims are mostly brought about by the confrontation, certain compromise between political forces and branches of power.
The point is, what conclusions should be drawn.
I would like to emphasize: we are not going to divert from the chosen road, and we are not going to give it up, for only this track can guarantee profound and irreversible free market transformations of the economy, its qualitative renovation, and, that is the most important, real practical results which should have an effect upon the welfare, living conditions of every person and every family.
It may sound as a paradox, but my belief in the success of this course has been strengthened also by collisions linked with the international financial crisis.
We are able to do much more, if we could have withstood the fury of these elements.
The presidential election to be held this year will make the domestic situation much more complicated; but we have considerable experience in maintaining stability and concord in the society. And it shall be used again.
A hard and thorny path is a waiting for Ukraine. We shall cover it relying on our own force. Though we would appreciate more active and concrete support from the international community on that track.
In this connection, I think it is worth remembering that this country has remained honest with foreign investors, for it is meeting its commitments even in the hardest period of time.
I would like to stress once again that we count on attention, understanding, and support also from international financial institutions, to a great extent.
We hope that the Annual EBRD conference held in Kyiv became a most important event of the last year and was not the only evidence of the increase of the interest of the international business to and trust in Ukraine as an important component of the world and European economy.
Economic cooperation is one of numerous spheres where Ukraine tries to be a reliable and predictable partner.
Turning to foreign policy, I would like to emphasize again: the decisive features of 1998 were (as it used to be) evolutionary and resulting character, succession, and predictability.
I believe one of the last year key achievements was the completion of shaping the foreign political model of this country based on the multivectorial principle, but it does not mean it to be ambivalent or indefinite.
Priorities of the international cooperation have been clearly defined for Ukraine to focus its diplomatic efforts, first and foremost, on the development of distinctive relations with NATO, extension of strategic partnership with the USA and the Russian Federation, the enhancing of traditional ties with Central and East Europe, and the ex-USSR countries, integration into the European politics, economy, and culture, the EU associate membership.
Considered and balanced foreign policy has enabled us to take another step towards our strategic goal: returning Ukraine to the European community.
In this regard, coming into force of the Agreement On Partnership and Cooperation with the EU was very important, giving a chance to start its implementation and to hold the 2nd Ukraine-EU Summit in Vienna. Equally important were the approval of the EU Integration Strategy by the President of Ukraine, as well as the December decision of the EU Heads of states to prepare a joint Ukrainian strategy of the EU.
Relations with the EU have become dynamic; intentions are replaced by concrete actions from both sides.
This is not only a good sign for us. This is the evidence of the possibility to find practical solution of a row of urgent issues. Among them: political support by the EU for Ukraine’s aspiration to obtain the associate and later full EU membership; involvement into activities of the European Conference; starting to negotiate the establishment of the free trade zone; backing by the EU of our accession to GATT/WTO.
I believe the EU understands that rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU stimulates reforms of the Ukrainian society and influences the Euro-Atlantic process in a positive way.
Considerable progress has been achieved in relations with NATO.
The dialogue with the Alliance covers today not only bilateral cooperation, but a wider range of issues dealing with the European security as a whole.
While speaking about regional cooperation, I would like to point out the invitation for Ukraine to take part at the traditional Central and East European Summits.
The success of the BSEC Summit in Yalta, where we signed the Statute of that organization are, in my view, among the achievements of the Ukrainian diplomacy.
At the same time, regional cooperation also means the implementation of concrete economic projects in accordance with the economic vector of our foreign policy. In particular, the prospects of transporting Caspian energy resources through its territory have been filled with new contents for Ukraine. I hope that Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and other interested countries will be more supportive this year to the Ukraine-Poland route presented at the Baku Conference, thus allowing to attract real investors.
Substantial and constructive was Ukraine’s contribution into the formation of a new model of relations in Europe, and strengthening of the international security and stability. Ukraine has become more active in settling the Transdniester problem, peace-keeping efforts of the international community in Kosovo, in enhancing confidence and security in the Black Sea region.
A convincing evidence of the interior political stability in Ukraine has become the decision to discontinue the OSCE mission mandate initiated in 1994.
I am pleased to point out the dynamic development of relations with our strategic partners.
We have positive shifts in our relations with Russia, which has always been playing an important part in foreign political priorities of Ukraine. Ratification of the large-scale agreement between our nations by the Duma and the signing of the Long-Term Economic Cooperation Program till 2007 lay a reliable foundation for further extension of bilateral relations, which have a great historical dimension and geopolitical importance.
We can overcome our common economic problems by helping each other. That is why I think that the approval of the large-scale agreement by the supreme chamber of the Russian Parliament is just the matter of time. We in Ukraine are not inclined to dramatize the delay in the ratification of the act.
The Ukraine-US dialogue developed in a successful way. We held the 2ndmeeting of the Binational Commission, there was a lively exchange with delegations from respective governmental agencies and businessmen. We have initiated cooperation in new promising sectors.
A sort of a record was established last year together with Poland in the intensiveness of top level contacts. We met 6 times with President Kwasniewski, but it is not a matter of the number of meetings, though it is also indicative and important. Each meeting meant the extension of the range of mutually beneficial cooperation and the addition of its real, practical results.
We attach great importance to relations with neighboring countries, in particular, the ex-USSR and Central-East European states.
With regard to Ukraine’s "European intentions", I am pleased to point out the beginning of Ukraine-Germany summit political consultations, qualitative alterations in our relationship with France after President Chirac’s visit, continuation of the dialogue with the United Kingdom.
Ukraine is ready for further cooperation with G7 countries, first of all in closing down Chernobyl power plant on the basis of keeping to mutual agreements and commitments.
Certainly, these are the most evident traits of foreign political activities of Ukraine last year. The above under no circumstances can be interpreted as the decrease of activeness of our diplomacy in other spheres and regions: Latin America, Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa.
We pay great attention to relations with Japan and China.
Mr. Dean, esteemed diplomats,
What is Ukraine expecting from 1999?
Proceeding from the contents and aims of our today’s discussion, first and foremost, we are expecting for the partners of Ukraine to be objective in appraising and forecasting processes underway here and for their assistance in making the processes more profound and dynamic.
Ukraine has made its European choice, and the time has come for concerted efforts for its implementation in the interests of stability and security on the whole of the continent.
Concrete foreign political goals of the year are signing the agreement on the national border with Moldova and Romania, as well as the delimitation of borders with Russia.
Great attention is to be paid to the implementation of our own foreign political initiatives. I mean the May Central European Summit in Lviv and the Yalta Conference of the Baltic and Black Sea countries in September.
We shall be more active in international organizations, first of all, in the UN. The world community has highly evaluated the efforts of the representative of Ukraine at the post of the President of the 52nd General Assembly, and thus we have the reasons to count also on the support of Ukraine during the autumn election of non-permanent members of the Security Council.
I would like to stress: Ukraine shall be steadfast in meeting its commitments proceeding from its Council of Europe membership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to emphasize that diplomatic missions accredited to this country and their Heads understand priorities and aims of the foreign policy of Ukraine and contribute to its efforts, so I seize the opportunity and express my sincere gratitude.
I hope that our official relations and informal contacts will be still based on the same solid and constructive foundation.
Finally, I would like to wish 1999 to be the year of peace, prosperity, and well-being for the countries and peoples you represent; let all the crises and conflicts remain in the past. Let our planet be more secure and stable on the eve of the 3rd millennium.
Ukraine is ready to contribute to that with all its forces and abilities.
Thank you for attention.