Address by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Anatoliy Zlenko at the Royal Institute of International Affairs
London, 24 October 2001
My Lord, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank for the kind invitation to address such a distinguished audience, as well as for your interest in my country.
The topic of my today's address - "Ukraine's top foreign policy priorities" - was identified quite a while back.
However, significant changes have taken place in the international environment recently, which prompt me to elaborate in more detail on somewhat different aspects of foreign policy.
It has, particularly, to be borne in mind that Ukraine is consistently pursuing its clearly defined strategic foreign policy objectives: EU integration, development of strategic partnership with the United States and Russia as well as our immediate foreign economic task - accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Speaking today in London, I would like to note that I never stop wondering how diverse this city can be.
On the one hand, it is a modern European megalopolis, one of the biggest centres of political and business life in the world.
It is in a constant frenzy and changing, notably for the better.
On the other hand, it is a quiet, comfortable city, which strikes with the beauty of its parks and squares.
The pace of Londoners' life both mobilises and calms one down.
These days, however, the impression of dynamics and calmness is rather misleading.
Even such a routine as air travel is perceived by many today as an adventure and quite a real risk.
Recently many people have developed a habit to check, before opening a letter, that it does not contain any powder.
I am confident that such an unpleasant procedure is undertaken by Londoners with their natural elegance and particular English sense of humour.
However, the fact is that fear and uncertainty have settled in the capitals across the world.
The events of September 11th have forced us to make an absolutely new assessment of everything that happens in modern international relations.
We have come to distinguish modern history into the period "before September the 11th" and afterwards.
The terrorists have crossed the line, which until recently could happen only in the imagination of apocalyptic thriller writers.
A lethal powder, tucked into envelopes - is it not a new quality of terror?
I am convinced that the response of the civilised world to those events must also have a totally new, I would say, non-standard dimension.
In any case, the international policies in the world cannot be pursued after "the black Tuesday" like "business as usual".
A rather lengthy part of my life has been associated with New York.
Hence, perhaps, the scale of this tragedy is more evident to me than to many of my compatriots.
As I watched on CNN the hundred-storey New York skyscrapers being reduced to a cloud of dust in a matter of seconds, I instinctively recalled the civil aircraft, brought down by terrorists over the United Kingdom, as well as numerous innocent victims of terrorist acts against US embassies and residential buildings in Russia.
The September events in the United States oblige us to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of terrorism and to undertake joint actions, aimed at making this world a more secure and safer place.
That is why Ukraine has put forward the initiative at the United Nations to proclaim September 11th the International Day to combat terrorism.
I am convinced: the fight against terrorism cannot be selective or random; it must be of a global character and should be accompanied by joint efforts of all members of the international community in order not only to punish the perpetrators, but, primarily, to prevent future crimes of this kind.
Whatever the power possessed by the United States, the United Kingdom and their NATO allies, they will not be able to cope with this challenge in a global scale on their own.
Ukraine already lists itself as one of such allies.
For centuries Ukraine has been set at the cross-roads of cultures and civilisations.
It granted refuge to representatives of different religions and nationalities.
Both historic and modern experience of Ukraine in ensuring their co-existence makes it a stabilising factor in the dialogue of Christian Europe and Islamic Asia.
A week ago I visited three Caucasus republics - Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
My visits to those countries have convinced me once again: that region is not an alien to Ukraine, while Ukraine, in its turn, is no alien to that region.
This is eloquently testified by the key role of our country in the process of Georgia-Abkhazia settlement or of the establishment of the GUUAM organisation, which unites European and Asian countries.
By the way, we are inclined to see the GUUAM as the forerunner for the productive inter-regional partnership of the European and Asian countries, countries, which represent different regions and religions, but have common geopolitical and economic interests.
It is obvious today that an individual country cannot build its own security like a, so called, "gated community" in an unstable, poverty-stricken environment.
Sooner or later everybody will understand that it is nothing but an illusion.
That is why I do not agree with the concept that the only way out from the current political situation is the erection of a wall, protecting the Western civilisation from the existing and potential sources of threat.
Construction of such a wall will inevitably lead to deterioration of this situation and widening of the existing civilisation gap.
The return to the world order, which existed in the past, when the world was divided into the spheres of influence, separated by hostile military-political blocs and kept together only by arrangements of the super powers - this is the abyss.
This is a step back, which will only deepen the problem and will not resolve it.
The alternative is to try to match the new threats with a new quality of co-operation between states on the international level.
In recent years we have spoken a lot about new challenges, demanding joint response of mankind.
However, few of us have expected that the necessity for concerted actions will be proven so soon and in such tragic circumstances.
It is not worthwhile to seek answers to new challenges in the political arsenal of the past.
Probably, that is why Ukrainian foreign policy does not accept any attempts to revive the system of confrontation, which until recently dominated international relations.
We must find the response amongst the opportunities, opened to us by the era of globalisation. Ladies and Gentlemen,
In order to understand what to do next we have to be clear about the root-causes and pre-conditions leading to terrorism.
In our view, one of the main pre-conditions for this horrendous phenomena are the dividing lines which exist in the world and the enormous gap in development between individual states and world regions.
And if somebody believes that by preserving those lines we can protect ourselves from terrorism - then he is hugely mistaken.
Unfortunately, following the global transformations of the last decade, the world has failed to develop a radically new type of political thinking and new approaches to the challenges brought about by globalisation.
My country has not only declared joining the global anti-terrorist coalition.
As the responsible member of the international community, as the member of the UN Security Council, Ukraine renders concrete practical support to the anti-terrorist operation, undertaken by the United States and the United Kingdom.
I will not elaborate on the specifics of what the Ukrainian side has already done.
It is not of the essence now.
What is the most important, in my view, is to start thinking now about how to gradually transform the military operation into a political-diplomatic and financial-economic one.
It is these last two aspects that should underlie the foundation of the global long-term comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism.
We continue to maintain that there is a need for a proper institutional arrangement to co-ordinate the efforts of the international community in combating terrorism.
Speaking earlier this month at the Annual Labour party conference, the Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his confidence that in the long-term the fight against terrorism would not be possible without fight against poverty.
One cannot but agree with that.
Any step, which bridges the gap between rich and poor countries, washes away the taste of injustice, experienced by many in today's world.
Any step, which brings together mankind, is a step toward a new world order, free from terrorism and poverty. Ladies and Gentlemen!
My country has a rather thorny history, marked by a relentless struggle for state independence, which was regained ten years ago.
Over these years Ukraine was drawn many times into a whirlpool of controversial events, yet overcoming the difficulties of the transition period and successfully preserving political stability in the country.
I do not want hereby to say that we have resolved today all the problems: of course, we have them, and quite a few of them.
But alongside there are positive trends in our development.
We have marked the fifth anniversary of the new Constitution and the tenth anniversary of our independence.
This year we have succeeded in launching our economy into the orbit of steady growth, reaching the rate of 10,5 percent in the first six months of this year.
Those were one of the best growth rates in Europe.
Ukraine is preparing for the third democratic parliamentary elections, which will take place in March of 2002.
Three years from now we shall witness the third elections of the President of Ukraine.
May I mention that the President of Ukraine has already publicly invited international observers to participate in the monitoring of these elections.
We will be pleased to welcome observers also from the United Kingdom.
Ukraine enjoys well-developed relations with the outside world.
But in building those relations we never make use of controversies existing between different states.
On the contrary, our interest lies in minimising the number of those controversies.
As an example, currently the Ukrainian side is mediating in the process of settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.
We are one of the guarantors for the future status of Transdniestria in the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
As an unbiased and consistent partner, which has good and balanced relations with Israel and its Arab neighbours, Ukraine proposes its good offices to all sides of the Middle East conflict.
Using the present-day political terminology, Ukraine is "an emerging regional power", which reinvigorates its relations with the leading European states, offering them real and not just symbolic partnership.
We are striving to develop the relations of strategic partnership with the European Union, the United States and Russia, deepen our co-operation with the EU candidate countries, especially with Poland.
Relations with this country have already reached the level of strategic partnership.
For some people, who are still obsessed by the Cold war thinking, such an approach seems to be quite paradoxical, as until recently it has only been possible to be only on one side of the front line, dividing the East and the West.
But the times are changing.
Today we view the existing world centres of political gravitation as complementary rather than contradictory elements of the new world order.
We see them as allies, united by common objectives, rather than enemies, obsessed with obsolete stereotypes.
Ten years of Ukraine's independence has been long enough to learn by experience just how different partnerships can be.
One should distinguish between a partnership, which is like a political symbol, a certain declaration, and relations genuinely oriented towards the future.
We believe that in recent years the Ukrainian-British relations began to assume the character of a really constructive partnership.
Active political dialogue, developed recently between our countries, has demonstrated the existence of mutual interest in closer co-operation.
The horizons of the Ukrainian-British partnership would have practically no limits, should there be a consistent political will on both sides.
I will be very specific and open here.
In my view, the most topical for Ukraine at present is co-operation in the energy sector.
For my country, due to the structure of its industry and lack of sufficient deposits of oil and gas, energy and national security are nothing less than synonyms.
Recently the construction of Odesa-Brody oil pipeline was completed in Ukraine.
It stands a good chance of meeting Ukraine's energy demands and becoming one of the main transit routes for oil supply to new Europe.
What I have in mind are the Caspian oil reserves as well as equally promising deposits in Kazakhstan.
We are also braced for modernisation of our gas transportation system, which will upgrade its capacity and provide for meeting the increased demand for gas in Europe.
We are ready to co-operate with all interested parties.
A timely and comprehensive implementation of those projects will, on the one hand, foster accelerated economic reform in Ukraine, strengthen its independence and radically improve relations with Russia, and, on the other - provide for vitally important national interests of EU member-states by means of their reliable energy supply from the East and increased stability on the continent.
Concerted efforts in this direction may yield tangible and important geopolitical results, equalling in scale to disintegration of the USSR, nuclear disarmament of Ukraine and closure of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
I am convinced that these projects of energy supply will be of great interest to entire Europe, particularly in the aftermath of September the 11th .
Today we are offering Europe the most reliable, secure and economically feasible routes of energy supply.
Political and economic support of the United Kingdom for the Ukrainian routes of energy supply may just become that decisive factor, which will open up extensive prospects for Ukraine as an important participant of a new European energy transportation network.
I am convinced that the energy security of Ukraine is, without any exaggeration, an integral part of the European energy security mechanism.
At the same time, Ukraine's top short-term objective is the accession to the World Trade Organisation.
We are grateful to the United Kingdom for its support in accomplishing this fundamental task.
Other promising directions of the Ukrainian-British partnership are also closely connected with economic aspects of our relations.
Yet, is there a single big economic project in this world, which would not have its other - political - side?
Frankly speaking, it is sometimes disappointing, when our proposals on realisation of large-scale projects do not receive the anticipated reaction from the West - again, for purely political reasons.
Take, for example, what happened to the Ukrainian bid for joint development, together with France and Germany, of the most modern transport aircraft on the basis of the Ukrainian Antonov-70 model.
We would be genuinely pleased if we succeeded in avoiding similar disappointments in the relations between Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
I think the establishment of a Ukrainian-British intergovernmental Council on economic co-operation would be an important step toward this objective.
The Ukrainian economy, as before, is in need of foreign investment.
After a long period of crisis our economy has finally started to recover, and foreign investments in Ukraine are transforming into capitals, destined to profit both in the short and long term.
As to political investments, I would like to express again my conviction, that Ukraine as well as other Eastern European countries belong to the key region, crucial for maintaining the balance of power and stability on the Euro-Asian space.
It will be a serious mistake to continuously view Eastern Europe through the perception of the past decade, when the principles of democracy and market economy were just establishing there.
Beyond any doubt, over the last years the East-Europeans have achieved enormous progress.
Currently, it is one of the most dynamic regions in Europe, witnessing a steady tendency of economic growth.
These countries come to realise their role in the world politics, they develop deeper understanding of their own interests and those of their allies.
Ukraine is becoming an active player on the European political arena.
European integration for Ukraine is not a matter of political opportunism, it is a conscious strategic choice.
In its turn, Europe without Ukraine will also be disadvantaged.
And in no case do we wish to become some kind of "cordon sanitaire" to the East of the enlarged European Union.
As you would anticipate, in this context the most important issue for me is the issue of Ukraine's borders.
We are prepared to actively co-operate with the EU countries, including the United Kingdom, in improving and strengthening Ukrainian borders on the West as well as on the East.
Moreover, we would be very grateful for practical assistance in this respect.
However, we cannot accept that these new, modern borders be transformed into a wall, separating Ukraine from its European neighbours.
For their part, the Europeans should not perceive Ukraine's integration aspirations as a problem, but rather as a chance to build a really united and indivisible Europe in the future.
I do hope that Britain will continue to consistently support us in this endeavour. Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Speaking before the British Parliament in July of this year on the issue of ratification of the Nice Treaty, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed a thought, which I remembered well: "the EU enlargement is about righting the wrongs of history and reuniting Europe, which will make all of us more prosperous, safer and stronger".
I fully share this view.
Without any doubt, our countries have a much wider range of mutual interests than participation in the same qualifying group of the UEFA Champions League.
Yet, I draw optimism from something else: as opposed to football, where there is one winner and one loser, modern foreign policy is increasingly transforming into a "win-win" or "lose-lose" game.
Facing new challenges and new chances, the interests of individual European countries tend to merge into one whole: the interest for a peaceful, stable and secure Europe.
And, as you know, mutual interests as well as common values are the best building material in politics.
It is up to us, politicians and diplomats, to make proper use of this building material.
Thank you for your attention.
For additional information, please contact:
Alla Okomaniuk, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400
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