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Press Release

Opening Remarks by His Excellency Dr. Yuri Scherbak, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, at the "Towards a New Ukraine III Conference, University of Ottawa

October 30, 2000     # 29

Your Excellency the Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn, Dear Senator Andreychuk, Ambassador Fraser, Your Excellencies, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, Dear Vice-rector, Professor Kis and the University of Ottawa Chair of Ukrainian Studies, Professors and Speakers,
Dear friends,

It is my pleasure to congratulate you all on the occasion of the opening of the international conference Towards a New Ukraine III: Geopolitical Imperatives of Ukraine: Regional Contexts.

All of us here are united by our interest toward Ukraine, by our knowledge of the many challenges that Ukraine faces in the tenth year of its renewed independent existence, by our confidence in its ultimate success, and by our hope, although maybe for different reasons, that Ukraines future will be democratic and prosperous.

On behalf of the Embassy of Ukraine I also thank all of you from Ukraine, Canada, the European Union, Germany, Great Britain, Poland and the United States who have found time to participate in this conference.

I am very glad that this conference will focus on Ukraines relations with Russia, Poland and the European Union as well as the foreign and security challenges associated with them. With its very interesting agenda, I believe the conference will become a step forward in better understanding todays situation of Ukraine, its difficulties, aspirations and capabilities.

I am sure this conference is timely. On the threshold of the 21st century, Ukraine is intensifying its foreign policy as it undergoes deep transformations, reforms its social, economic and government institutions.

It is noteworthy that this conference will be held one year after Leonid Kuchma was re-elected as President of Ukraine. Last years presidential elections vividly demonstrated that the vast majority of Ukrainians have made their choice of direction: towards Europe.

With President Kuchmas re-election, the formation of a reformist Government and the creation of a democratic majority in the Parliament, a new, stable political situation has emerged in Ukraine, naturally facilitating economic transformations.

The resulting boost in reforms has already brought some good news, such as an 11% increase in industrial output. For the first time since independence or should I say, since the decline of the communist empire Ukraine has been enjoying economic growth. The final dismantling of the kolkhozes, a woeful heritage of the Soviet system, has been a single most important development not only in agriculture but also in a more general political, economic and psychological context.

As you may know President Kuchma has recently appointed Anatoliy Zlenko, a prominent Ukrainian diplomat, Minister for Foreign Affairs. In doing so he said that Ukraines course towards European integration would remain unchanged and that he hoped that Ukraines Foreign Service would work more productively towards "embodying our European choice in concrete forms and finding understanding and support by the European community of nations." This approach has already found full support by the European Union as expressed at last Septembers Ukraine-EU Summit in Paris.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope that this conference will be conducted in a constructive atmosphere enabling to draw important conclusions, make useful predictions and recommendations. As President Kuchma has put it, "our ability to secure the existence of a sovereign, independent, indivisible Ukraine, which has every opportunity to become a sub-regional state in a critically important part of Europe, will depend on how well we make strategic forecasts and understand possible external challenges."

I wish all of you every success.

For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400,