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22 July 1998
For immediate release
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U.S.-UKRAINE BINATIONAL COMMISSION JOINT STATEMENT 7/22
The Vice President of the United States, Al Gore and the President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, met July 22, 1998, in Kyiv [Kiev], Ukraine, to review progress achieved by the United States-Ukraine Binational Commission in strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine. The leaders outlined further measures to advance the objectives of that partnership in the years ahead.
The talks were one more indication of the high level of bilateral cooperation and the strengthening of our strategic partnership, which furthers the interests of both sides and makes it possible to resolve issues that arise in their bilateral relations. The Vice President and President noted with satisfaction the effectiveness of the Binational Commission in addressing the broad and expanding range of the initiatives and activities the sides are pursuing together. They undertook to continue to refine and enhance the Commission's ability to advance the bilateral relationship and promote progress in the areas of foreign policy, security, sustainable economic development, and trade and investment. The Vice President and President were briefed by the Committee Co-Chairmen on their joint work, and took note of the official reports detailing their results.
COOPERATION IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND SECURITY
The Vice President and President noted that the United States-Ukraine strategic partnership has a positive effect on strengthening overall security in Europe, and international relations in general. The United States side reaffirmed its unwavering support for a democratic, independent Ukraine. The sides devoted attention to the matter of intensifying cooperation between Ukraine, the United States and the EU in making use of all opportunities to achieve our shared policy of Ukraine's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
The Vice President and President noted with pleasure the signing in July, 1997, of the NATO-Ukraine Charter on Distinctive Partnership, and the subsequent successful meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. They undertook to invest additional effort into strengthening Ukraine/NATO relations, particularly in deepening Ukrainian participation in the Partnership for Peace, and in placing the agreed NATO Liaison Officer in Kyiv as soon as possible.
The Vice President and President noted that Ukraine plays an important role in ensuring peace and stability in central and eastern Europe and on the continent in general, and contributes to regional security.
Vice President Gore congratulated President Kuchma on Ukraine's efforts to improve relations with all its neighbors. He cited Ukraine's cooperation with Poland as particularly important. Both leaders welcomed the trilateral initiative they have jointly begun to share expertise and experiences gained in Poland's and Ukraine's transition to a market-based economy. They encouraged establishment of a mechanism for regular United States-Ukraine-Poland contacts and consultations. The Vice President and President also noted the effective efforts of Ukraine to encourage cooperation among the states bordering on the Black Sea.
The Vice President and President expressed particular satisfaction with the degree of bilateral cooperation in the area of non-proliferation. Ukraine's decision to become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime signifies its commendable, responsible approach to non-proliferation. The sides noted their common position on the need to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction. They expressed their deep concern over the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma found that United States-Ukraine cooperation in the security field is continuing to grow. They emphasized that effective programs in this field, as well as military contacts, are an integral part of United States-Ukraine strategic partnership. The sides stressed the importance of continuing support for the reform of Ukraine's armed forces. During the past year, cooperation has begun in a number of now important areas. Practical cooperation has started in the further development, with United States support, of the Yavoriv Training Area for training peacekeeping forces and holding joint exercises by the armed forces of Ukraine, NATO member states, and partner countries. The sides collaborate in promoting the NATO decision on setting up at Yavoriv a training center under the PFP program. This will make it possible to enhance the interoperability of the armed forces of Ukraine and NATO member countries. The United States and Ukraine jointly undertake with NATO, getting adequate financial support for Ukraine's participation in PFP. The sides strive to broaden their cooperation with respect to Ukraine's technical interoperability with NATO.
The sides noted with satisfaction the successful cooperation between the United States and Ukraine under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The sides agree to complete promptly a final settlement of all matters relating to the elimination of strategic bombers, cruise missiles, and the disposition of the fuel of SS-19 missiles.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma noted the successful implementation of a number of programs for scientific and technological cooperation between the United States and Ukraine. Scientific and technological programs are being carried out most actively in cooperation between the Ukrainian Science and Technology Center and the Ukrainian Ministry of Science and Technology.
DEMOCRATIZATION AND TRANSITION IN UKRAINE
Vice President Gore noted that the Multiparty parliamentary elections held in Ukraine indicated the consolidation of the principles of democracy and free expression of the people's will. The Vice President and President agreed that Ukraine is at a critical economic juncture. Urgent economic challenges and a difficult global financial environment place extreme importance on close cooperation through the mechanism of the Binational Commission. The sides noted the urgency of an intensive effort to accelerate the pace of reform in Ukraine and to consolidate the gains, already made, such as macroeconomic stability, responsible and effective monetary policy, and progress in privatization and deregulation, and expansion of trade and investment.
President Kuchma reaffirmed Ukraine's commitment to the policy of economic reform and described the President's package of decrees aimed a financial and economic stabilization. The Vice President welcomed the President's firm intention to secure the remaining actions necessary for approval of an IMF Extended Fund Facility for Ukraine as quickly as possible. The Vice President affirmed ongoing U.S. support for Ukrainian reform.
The President of Ukraine noted that beginning in 1994, Ukraine had taken a number of significant steps aimed at reforming the energy sector. The President also expressed his support for the power sector financial recovery plan. The two sides agreed that further efforts to reform this sector should be directed toward continuing the process of demonopolization whose main elements are the full introduction of an energy market, including market principles of setting energy prices, encouraging energy efficiency, and privatization of the state-owned property of energy companies.
Both sides noted that market-based development of the agricultural sector is vital for establishing the basis for meaningful growth of commerce and investment in this strategic area. They stressed the need to fulfill last year's obligations with respect to reducing the government's role in purchasing agricultural products and making an increasing proportion of state purchases through commodity exchanges. They affirmed the importance of reducing the state's role in supplying credits and addressing debt issues of Ukrainian agriculture. Both sides stated that while some progress has been achieved in privatizing grain elevators, the need remains to accelerate that process. The United States side supports efforts by the Government of Ukraine to reduce the tax burden on agricultural enterprises.
President Kuchma and Vice President Gore reviewed the steps by the Ukrainian side to improve the investment and business climate, including the establishment of the Chamber of Independent Experts and the President's Consultative Council and making substantial progress toward resolving a large number of business disputes. Additional measures included promptly resolving outstanding business disputes, reducing the number of activities subject to licensing, simplifying the procedures for registration of enterprises, reforming the Customs Service (in particular, a draft Customs Code has been submitted to Supreme Rada), codifying the procedures for inspection of enterprises, simplifying the system for taxation and accounting of small business, lightening the tax burden of small and medium-sized private enterprises, and introducing a fixed agricultural tax. The sides agreed on the need for the most effective implementation of these steps.
The sides noted the need to accelerate Ukraine's efforts to gain accession to the World Trade Organization. The U.S. side agreed to continue providing Ukraine with appropriate political and technical support in that effort. The Ukrainian side expressed gratitude for extension to Ukraine of the Generalized Systems of Preferences, which expired on June 30, 1998. The United States expressed its support for continuing the GSP program for an additional longer period. This Ukrainian side stressed the importance of granting Ukraine "most favored nation" status in trade with the United States on a permanent and non- conditional basis. The United States side reaffirmed that Ukraine is in compliance with the standards of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma recognized the need for intensifying cooperation to promote investments in technologies developed by Ukrainian enterprises. The Vice President and the President regard the recent visit of a United States mission to Kharkiv as a first step in this direction. The Vice President and the President noted that the Ukrainian side is implementing its commitment regarding nuclear non-proliferation. The United States side reconfirmed its readiness to help develop investment and entrepreneurship in the Kharkiv region, including "Turboatom." The two sides agreed to establish a working group chaired an the Ukrainian side by the Head of the Kharkiv Oblast Administration and co-chaired on the United States side by the Ambassador to Ukraine and the Coordinator of United States Assistance to the Newly Independent States. This group will develop mechanisms to design and implement specific programs and determine the sources of their financing.
The United States side also stated its intention to give priority attention to Kharkiv in United States Assistance programs. The Vice President stated that, among other measures, the United States will organize a business development trip to the United States in the fall of 1998 for senior decision-makers from Kharkiv enterprises in the power sector, including Turboatom, to meet with United States government experts and potential partners from United States firms. The United States will also increase its support for small and medium-size enterprise development in Kharkiv and will deliver military medical equipment and supplies valued at over $5 million to Kharkiv in 1999. Recognizing the Ukrainian side's actions to promote nuclear non-proliferation, the United States has also begun a large-scale, multi-year program to assist Ukraine in qualifying alternative fuel suppliers for its nuclear reactors.
The Vice President and President were pleased to note the signature in May 1998 of an Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation. They recognized that this agreement, once it comes into effect and is implemented, would permit increased, mutually-beneficial commercial cooperation. The Vice President and President noted with pleasure the continuing progress in developing some elements of Ukraine's nuclear fuel cycle, in particular, on a project to qualify alternative sources of nuclear fuel supplies, opening the way for greater competition for Ukraine's valuable nuclear fuel market. They noted the allocation of an initial $8 million for the first stage of this project. They also commanded the establishment of a Joint Experts Working Group on the long-term supply of nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors.
The Vice President and President were also pleased to announce the decision to hold a conference in Washington in November 9-10, 1998, to promote nuclear trade and commerce between our countries. This will help create and broaden commercial ties between the United States and Ukrainian nuclear sectors and help foster a wide range of related cooperation. Vice President Gore and President Kuchma were pleased to note the extension of the Nuclear Safety Assistance Agreement.
The Vice President and the President agreed to continue United States and Ukrainian efforts to implement the Memorandum of Understanding between the G-7 countries, the European Commission, and Ukraine concerning the closing of Chernobyl. They noted that great progress has been made under the Chernobyl MOU, especially on the Chernobyl Shelter Implementation Plan, where urgent repairs are underway.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma discussed joint environmental initiatives, among them cooperation on climate change, emissions trading, and a project for purifying drinking water, which could become an object of mutually-beneficial cooperation of scientists and businessmen of the two countries. They announced completion of a now agreement concerning the International Radio-ecology Laboratory of the International Chernobyl Center.
Ukraine described for the Vice President its proposal for participation in a Eurasian oil transport corridor for transporting oil from the Caspian Sea through Ukraine to Europe. The Vice President expressed his appreciation of the importance of this issue for Ukraine and the region, and noted that the United States Trade Development Administration intends to consider funding for specific feasibility studies.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma expressed their strong satisfaction with the progress made over the past years in increasing United States- Ukrainians civil space cooperation, and with the successful implementation of previous agreements in this field. The Vice President and President encouraged NASA and the NSAU to develop plans for an expanded program of cooperation and further efforts to encourage joint space launch ventures with United States commercial firms and Ukrainian counterparts.
The leaders noted that in March 1998, a bilateral agreement on space technology safeguards was signed, which establishes conditions for launching United States satellites with Ukraine launch vehicles. Subsequently, Ukraine joined the MTCR; the sides worked together on an agreement on missile technology safeguards' and contacts between United States-Ukrainian enterprises intensified. The intense cooperation between the United States and Ukraine, symbolized by the SeaLaunch project, promotes collaboration in telecommunications, information technologies, and science. and technology in general. The sides welcomed the Ukrainian proposal for cooperation in relation to restructuring the space sector on Ukraine.
The Ukrainian side draw the Vice President's attention to the importance of developing the infrastructure of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) region, and described Ukraine's plans for attracting investment in projects related to that effort.
COOPERATION IN THE LEGAL AND HUMANITARIAN AREAS
The sides have noted with satisfaction the commencement of cooperation of their law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering, automobile theft, and the trafficking of women and children, which are taking on alarming proportions throughout the world. In this connection, Vice President Gore and President Kuchma declared their intention to combat these dangerous forms of criminal activity and committed themselves to take steps to this end.
The sides expressed satisfaction at the signing of the Agreement between the United States and Ukraine on Legal Aid in Criminal Cases, and attached great importance to the potential for cooperation in the aforesaid field. The two sides expressed their deep concern over the alarming trend of women and children being trafficked for illicit purposes. The United States noted with satisfaction the Government of Ukraine's adoption of legislation regarding trafficking in human beings which was seen as a model for other countries to adopt.
The sides recognized that effective efforts are being made in Ukraine to combat drug trafficking and the use of Ukrainian territory to transit narcotics to other countries. The need for intensifying bilateral cooperation in this field was underscored.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma agreed that these joint actions are an important element in the collaboration of our two countries, law enforcement agencies and of the cooperation between the United States and Ukraine in the political sphere.
The Vice President and President reviewed the work regarding cultural heritage. They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the preservation and protection of culturally-significant sites in each country. They also reaffirmed their intent fully to implement the bilateral Agreement "On the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage." The sides agreed on the great importance of developing specific projects aimed at preserving the cultural heritage in Ukraine which is of interest to the United States, and the cultural heritage in the United States which is of interest to Ukraine, in particular the heritage of the Ukrainian community of the United States.
Vice President Gore and President Kuchma underscored the importance of reinforcing the United States-Ukraine strategic partnership in all spheres. The sides expressed satisfaction at the work accomplished to date by the Binational Commission. They reflected on the progress Ukraine has made toward establishing a democratic and market-oriented state and underscored that this was a crucial time to redouble cooperative efforts to assure Ukraine's continued process of economic and political reform, to encourage its integration with Europe and the rest of the international community and to bring prosperity to the Ukrainian people. The sides agreed to hold the next session of the Binational Commission in 1999 in Washington.
FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR UKRAINE