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6 July 1998
For immediate release
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Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk
On Ukraine’s Place In The European And Global Security Systems
From the speech by Mr. Borys Tarasyuk, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Washington, DC, July 6, 1998
I’m particularly glad to be here at the Center for Strategic and International studies which is well known for its extensive research activities and comprehensive expertise in many areas of international affairs. I’m also glad to be here today, during my first working visit to Washington in my new capacity since it was the Center and in particular my my good friend Dr.Zbigniew Brzezinski who initiated the Ukrainian-American Consultative Committee that contributed significantly into development of our bilateral relations.
I wish also to thank all of you for coming here today, which is indeed a sign of genuine interest to my country, to the present state and future perspective of Ukrainian-American relations. This interest I just witnessed earlier today while meeting members of the editorial board and journalists of The Washington Post. That meeting once again showed how many friends we have on this side of the Atlantic, but it had also demonstrated that there’s a significant demand for the first hand information about Ukraine in general, and its foreign policy in particular. And I am glad that now I have a chance to provide you with the information of the kind.
As you know Ukraine, though one of the oldest nations of Europe, is just approaching its 7th anniversary of regaining the independence, while the United States has celebrated its 222nd anniversary. I wish to use this opportunity to congratulate all Americans on the remarkable date and wish all of you further prosperity. Indeed, its due to the dynamism and hard labor of the nation that brought the United States to its today’s place on the globe. But it’s also the dynamism and significant efforts of the Ukrainians and leaders of the newly independent Ukraine which only in short 7 years made Ukraine a respectful member of the international community, and one of the key players of the regional and global systems of security. And I must say at this point that Ukrainian-American strategic partnership is indeed an important component of the security systems be it European or global dimension.
This role of the relations between our two countries and therefore their constructive contribution into the security environment have a very solid and well established structural and institutional basis, namely in the form of the Kuchma-Gore Commission with its various working committees. This structural framework provides good mechanisms to concentrate on very specific issues in a manner which allows both sides to find common ground and approaches both to bilateral and multilateral issues. Just in two weeks the US Vice-President Al Gore will visit Ukraine to take part in the next meeting of this Commission. We’re looking forward to this meeting and are confident of its success.
The road of our countries to the present level of relations of strategic partnership, declared in October 1996, was as much far from easy and smooth as the road to the present place of Ukraine in the European and global security systems. Both roads had their lowest points which perhaps not accidentally coincide in time - 1992-1993.
Then, at the time of Ukraine’s quest for asserting its place in international community, which both due to the indecisiveness of a then Ukrainian leadership, and a confused attitude to Ukraine in the West, including the United States, I can characterize as a time of lost opportunities.
It was the case not only because of significant overwhelming one-sided preoccupation of the United States with Ukraine’s, then third in the world, nuclear arsenal, but also because of conceptual split within major US Departments and Administration caused by putting serious doubts on Ukraine’s survivability as an independent state.
It was quite remarkable that when Ukraine’s independence was proclaimed in August 1991 there was a tough debate between two major Departments and within the Administration whether to recognize that new international entity. I remember pretty well that confusion here in Washington. After decades of attempts to help free peoples of the last empire all of a sudden politicians got lost and confused.
Let me tell you in very simple but reassuring terms - then and now our confidence in Ukraine’s irreversible independent future was most rightfully based on the results of national referendum and the resolve of Ukraine’s President and the Government to strengthen and consolidate this independence.
Much has been told in recent years in appreciation of Ukraine’s foreign policy successes and recognition of its key role for stability and security in the region and in the world as a whole, but few people realize how much efforts, political wisdom and courage it took for Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma and Government to achieve these result.
Inspite of all challenges inside the country, most notably economic hardships, inspite of quite a ‘cold’ welcome to a newcomer in early 90’s on the part of the West, consistent and responsible foreign policy of Ukraine earned wide respect both in the West, and what’s very valuable for us it earned respect among other newly independent states, formerly republics of the Soviet Union.
Recalling the nuclear legacy of American policy to Ukraine shows how everything is apparently interrelated in this world, and one would not argue that Ukraine’s decision to abandon its nuclear arsenal not only demonstrated its responsibility before international community and made a significant contribution to nuclear disarmament, but had also dramatically unfolded relations of Ukraine with the western countries. Consequently, it also gave Ukraine its present day weight and made her an example when international community faces a challenge of a global scope - to avert nuclear proliferation in India and Pakistan.
The recent participation of Ukraine in the London meeting of G 8+6, and our forthcoming participation later this week in a meeting of a created then in London special task group on non-proliferation is a self-evident confirmation of Ukraine’s present place on a global scale.
Let me use the nuclear issue to further illustrate interconnection of the foreign policy decisions of Ukraine and their consistency. This time I’ll turn your attention to a special partnership of Ukraine and NATO. Based on a Charter signed almost exactly a year ago in Madrid it demonstrates the extent to which NATO countries and Ukraine share common values as well as their firm unity on such issues as nuclear threat. This unity was demonstrated during the last Ministerial meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission in Luxembourg on May 29, where all 17 nations in a joint press statement strongly condemned nuclear tests carried out by India and Pakistan.
Having touched the issue of relations of Ukraine with NATO, I can not but emphasize the fact that they are yet another example of consistency of Ukraine’s policy.
Firstly, though it’s a common knowledge to us, I deem it necessary to remind that since Ukraine restored its independence official Kyiv has never voiced its opposition to NATO enlargement. Quite to the contrary, those in the country who by its Constitution are entitled to speak on behalf of the nation have always declared our vision of NATO as one of the most effective structures for maintaining stability and peace in Europe. It has been demonstrated by the NATO-led operations aimed at bringing peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. And here I have all the grounds to be proud of Ukraine’s participation in those operations.
Secondly, Ukraine regards NATO as an organization called upon to protect democratic values and achievements of the democratic nations, and as I mentioned earlier Ukraine shares such values, therefore we see NATO enlargement as a process of expanding the area of stability and democracy. It’s also important to underline that making good-neighborly relations and absence of territorial claims as a precondition of a country’s accession to the Alliance, NATO in fact facilitated major solutions in the region over the issues of borders and national minorities thus contributing to greater stability and security in the region.
Thirdly, although the issue of Ukraine’s membership of NATO is not on the agenda today, it must be said that Ukraine’s Constitution, the Main Guidelines of Ukraine’s Foreign Policy, approved by the Verkhovna Rada, do not exclude Ukraine’s accession to the security organizations in principle. Speaking about NATO enlargement and its implications for Ukraine I’d like also to remind you that it was the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma who in 1995 voiced the idea of Ukraine to establish a special partnership relations with the Alliance. It took 2 years for this idea to be materialized in the form of Ukraine-NATO Charter. In its turn the initiative of the President of Ukraine of 1995 was along the lines of our consistent policy towards co-operation with the Alliance since 1992.
This week we will celebrate the first anniversary of the Charter together with the Secretary general Javier Solana who will visit Ukraine on the invitation of President Leonid Kuchma.
The State Program of Ukraine-NATO Co-operation for the years 1998-1999 had been worked out and guides the respective work of the Ukrainian ministries and agencies concerned. Its successful implementation is an important element of the strategic course of the President and Government of Ukraine for integration in European and Euro-Atlantic structures which remains unchanged.
It’s very helpful and encouraging both for the President of Ukraine and the Government that this course should find an adequate and warm support of our friends and partners like it was pronounced in the NATO-Ukraine Joint Press Statement, Luxembourg, May 29, where:
‘NATO Ministers expressed their full appreciation for Ukraine’s strategic course of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and reaffirmed their conviction that independent, stable and democratic Ukraine is one of the key factors for ensuring stability in Central and Eastern Europe, and the continent as a whole.’
We believe that such resolution and appreciation of Ukraine’s strategic course will be further supported in 1999 here in Washington, DC when the 50th anniversary of the Alliance will be celebrated by all NATO countries and partners.
I can not but share President Clinton’s view expressed in the State of the Union Address last January, that ‘By taking in new members and working closely with new partners, including Russia and Ukraine, NATO can help to assure that Europe is a stronghold for peace in the 21st century.’
Indeed, supporting Ukraine’s strategic course and thus its role of security contributor is even more important when one takes into account its effective regional role of security consolidator.
Let me name only few examples. As you may know, the President of Ukraine is one of the guarantors of peace in the highly volatile region of Transdnistria, Moldova. Ukraine plays an active part of a mediator, as well as contributing its observers in the region.
Ukraine is also quite active in finding peaceful settlement in such hot spots as Abkhazia, Georgia, and Nahorny-Karabakh, Azerbaidjan. Let me remind you that Ukraine was the first to respond positively in 1994 when the OSCE under the Presidency of Italy suggested to conduct the first ever peace-keeping operation by the OSCE.
Ukraine’s active role in the Black Sea region was recently materialized in creation of a new regional international organization of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation at the Yalta summit recently in June. It’s worth mentioning that there in Yalta it was Ukraine’s President who managed to bring together for the first time the President of Turkey and the President of Armenia.
To underscore Ukraine’s active role as a strategic link between the Black and Baltic Sea regions President Leonid Kuchma put forward an initiative to organize the international Conference "Balto-Black Sea Co-operation: to integrated Europe of 21st century without dividing lines’.
As result of our efforts to bring together two strategically important regions in Europe, last month Ukraine was invited together with the USA and France to participate for the first time in the Council of Baltic Sea States Foreign Ministers meeting.
Another useful regional initiative of Ukraine is called GUAM, which is an informal forum for consultations among Georgia, Ukraine Azerbaidjan and Moldova. This forum has showed eventual common approaches and positions of the four countries on issues of mutual concern in such areas as peace-keeping, security of energy resources and their transportation, conventional armament and armed forces control. It’s a sign of appreciation by the countries involved of Ukraine’s foreign policy line. In our turn we appreciate their willingness to support and follow it.
To give you another illustration of Ukraine’s security role I have to make it clear that it is not limited to political mechanisms and frameworks. In other words, Ukraine, in addition to its political influence, has a considerable military and military-technical potential and experience which it’s ready and willing to share with its partners.
While addressing today the American audience, I’d like to say that in our view co-operation with Ukraine in this area may be a significant contribution to promoting the burden sharing between Americans and Europeans in security area.
Let me give you just one, but very powerful example. The Ukraine designed and Ukrainian-Russian produced large aircraft AN-70 has characteristics which are unique for its use as a powerful capability, as a basis for the Future Large Aircraft (FLA). For the time being successful development of the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) be it within NATO, or within EU/WEU is hardly possible without this capability, since it can be presently ‘borrowed’ from NATO, but in fact from the United States.
Apparently, Western European Union was aware of this opportunity which motivated it to sign with Ukraine in 1997 the Framework document which provides a basis for rendering Ukraine’s long-haul air-lift capabilities for European needs. This document remains a unique one of its nature for WEU since it’s the only one signed with a third country.
Ironically enough, inspite of obvious benefits from relations with Ukraine WEU persists in rejecting Ukraine’s desire to institutionalize relations with the Union. I believe that in honest and responsible politics a powerful contribution should weigh more than petty normative requirements.
Ukraine’s future lies in Europe and within European and Euro-atlantic structures, therefore the European Union should not neglect our country. Given Ukraine’s location under contemporary environment Ukraine must be a bridge not buffer between enlarged NATO[/EU] and Russia.
Stakes in Ukraine’s stability and prosperity become ever more higher both for Europe and US and will further grow while Ukraine’s immediate neighbors to the West will be joining NATO and the European Union.
Needless to say, the state of Ukraine-Russia relations will also play the crucial part. Ties between Kyiv and Moscow become more pragmatic and constructive, particularly after two Presidents had signed the major Treaty. The signing of the Treaty, though pending completion of its ratification process by the Russian Duma after Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine had ratified it on January 14 this year, has diffused tension over such basic issues as territorial integrity and the Black Sea Fleet.
Eventually, after many delays on the Russian side, entering into force of the major Treaty will strengthen relations between two countries on a treaty-guided basis. Only those who are against such relations may be interested in further procrastination with entering into force of the Treaty.
Ukraine regards its relations with Russia as one of the top priorities, and its strategic policy course on integration in European and Euro-atlantic structures has to be complemented by a vigorous efforts to develop comprehensive co-operation with Russia in all possible spheres. However, these processes can not replace each other, they have their own merits and benefits and should develop in parallel not impeding one another.
In this context Ukraine welcomes further developing relations between Russia and NATO as well as European Union. Achieved level of relations of Russia with Alliance and its prospects are very promising. Its institutional development and intensity are more impressive than general public in the West and Russia itself imagine they can be.
It also shows that despite traditional anti-NATO rhetoric and traditional anti-West sentiments among some Russians, they did their best to establish as many as possible ties with the leading western institutions. And they do succeed. Indeed, let me only say that once G-7 became G-8. The Russia-EU co-operation is gaining its intensity, the prospects of joining GATT/WTO are bright.
It is a very positive trend and all of us can only benefit from it. Democratic, free-market Russia integrated to the European and Euro-atlantic institutions, Russia learned to live with Ukraine as its independent neighbor is the aim we must strive to promote. Russia should be helped therefore to be integrated to Europe, and the Ukraine’s integration may serve as an example.
As Dr.Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his ‘Plan for Europe’ in the early 1995, ‘At some point in the future both the European Union and NATO will have to reassure the nature of their relations with Russia and Ukraine.’ With all my deep respect to my friend Zbig who wrote that that time might come ‘probably only some years after 2000’, I must state that this time has already ripen. At least it concerns EU long term strategy towards Ukraine.
But other topic requires a separate meeting and perhaps different setting. It should be rather a gathering of bureaucrats of the European Commission in Brussels, than this American audience. Believe me, many times in my long diplomatic career I felt that Americans in their policy to Ukraine were more European than Europeans themselves.