Ukraine’s Foreign Policy Direction after the Elections
Moderator and Introduction:
- Frederick Kempe, President, Atlantic Council of the United States
- The Hon. Borys Tarasyuk, former Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Our Ukraine Bloc;
- The Hon. Kostyantyn Gryshchenko,former Foreign Minister of Ukraine and Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych;
- The Hon. Hryhoriy Nemyria, Member of the Rada and Foreign Policy Advisor To Yulia Tymoshenko
Location: The Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.
Date: Monday, October 15, 2007 Time: 430 P.M. EDT
Frederick Kempe: Welcome to you all. I’m the president and CEO of the Atlantic Council of the United States. And I welcome you to Ukraine’s foreign policy direction after the elections. The esteemed gentlemen that are sitting to my left and right probably won’t be happy that I reveal that we’ve had some coalition negotiations back in my office as we were trying to determine who would finish, who would talk first, who would talk second, who would talk third. It gave me some insight into Ukraine and the future of Ukraine.
But I must say, I’ve come away deeply confident that everything is going to work out for the best, because it took about – oh, I would say – 45 seconds or so for them to reach agreement and consensus. And the consensus went this way. The person who has been foreign minister twice would go first; the person who has been foreign minister once would go second; and the person who may well become foreign minister would go third. And it was quite a gentlemanly and very civilized exchange that required no real mediation on my part whatsoever.
So before introducing our guests, we would like to welcome numerous distinguished guests in the audience. Specifically I would like to welcome Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Oleh Shamshur – welcome, sir – Ukraine’s ambassador to the European – Roman Shpek, former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine, Bill Miller and Steve Pifer. Good to have you here, gentlemen. And we also have a surprise guest, the deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, Andriy Veselovskiy. Good to see you and have you with us as well. Thank you, gentlemen.
We also are delighted to have three of Ukraine’s best foreign policy experts and practitioners here. Over the last three years, the Atlantic Council has been increasingly active in its Ukraine programming. Earlier this year, on the 10th anniversary of the NATO-Ukraine charter, we hosted a truly innovative video conference. I think it was from the embassy in Ukraine to here, if I’m not mistaken. And with large audiences both here in Washington, but also in Kiev. And it showed how with new technology, we can put this together. This conference as well is being recorded. We’ll have a transcript and the recording on our site tomorrow where anybody in Ukraine or elsewhere can call it up and watch it.
We’ve been involved in the two-year project on policy dialogue. We’ve hosted numerous roundtables on Ukraine. And with the support and expertise of our non-resident senior fellow, Adrian Karatnycky, we also recently completed a major study, which looks at what we believe to be one of the major challenges Ukraine is facing today, and that is the issue of business and political corruption. We’ll release this report shortly in our hope that we’ll contribute to committing Ukraine’s newly elected leaders to a fight that their electorates – not the Atlantic Council, but rather their electorates – have isolated and focused on as a leading issue.
As you all know, Ukraine held early parliamentary elections just two weeks ago and is now in the process of forming a government. The election results will be officially announced this week and that will set in motion the official formation process. The nature of Ukraine’s government – and that’s why we’re all here – will of course shape Ukraine’s foreign policy. Some of you in the audience may want to ask what this Shtatatek (ph) shape will be. We can’t know that. But I think we can know a lot of the questions behind that of how different outcomes and different personalities may shape foreign policy. And indeed, I think we can see a lot of the trends sort of forming anyway, and consensus around some of the trends.
Let me give a brief introduction of each speaker. Each of them will speak for eight to 10 minutes. I think Jan will be holding up a two-minute card and a zero-minute card. This is not so much to shorten your remarks, but more to leave time for questions from the audience because we have such experts and knowledgeable people in the audience.
Let me introduce all three first, and then we’ll start in the order I introduce them. Borys Tarasyuk is the chairman of the Rukh Party, which is part of the Our Ukraine bloc, and founder and chairman of the Institute of Euro-Atlantic Cooperation. He has served twice, as I said earlier, as foreign minister of Ukraine, April 1998 to September 2000, and then after the Orange Revolution from February 2005 to January 2007. He also has served as Ukraine’s head of mission to NATO.
Kostyantyn Gryshchenko now serves as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. He was foreign minister from September 2003 to February 2005, ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, well known here from 2000 to 2003, also head of the mission of Ukraine to NATO and ambassador of Ukraine to Belgium as well. So a lot of experience with the U.S., NATO, and also at the heart of the European Union in Belgium.
And then, the final speaker, Hryhoriy Nemyria, is a member of the Ukrainian parliament, chief foreign policy advisor to Yulia Tymoshenko, and he is also the founder and director of the academic center for European and International Studies. From 1996 to 2005, he was chairman and advisor to the board of the International Renaissance Foundation.
And with that, let met turn to Ambassador Tarasyuk and I wonder if you can get us rolling?
Borys Tarasyuk: Thank you. Thank you for your presentation. Thank you for the initiative of Atlantic Council to organize such a meeting to discuss Ukraine’s foreign policy after the elections. I’m very glad to participate in this event, and especially seeing too many friends of mine here in this audience.
First of all, I would like to say that I am impressed with the ability of the Atlantic Council to predict what is going to take place in Ukraine. You planned this meeting, and this meeting is taking place at the date when two very important events have taken place in Ukraine. So first, this is finally, the central election commission announced the official results of the elections, which were well known to everybody. But this is the beginning of the official process, according to the constitution and according to the election as to the forming of the majority and of the government. Second, well, I don’t know how did you know, but today, another major event has taken place in Ukraine. That is the announcement and the initialing of the major document with implications for Ukraine’s internal policy, and certainly foreign policy, the creation and the initialing of the agreement on the creation of the democratic coalition. So these are two major events, which have taken place today. And now, I am going to share with you my remarks concerning the foreign policy of Ukraine after the elections.
My remarks are going to be valid, provided that the results of the elections are not going to be distorted as took place last year. So they are going to be valid from my point of view, if the results are not going to be distorted. So first, my major observations, and secon
d, well, I am going to acquaint you with the major document, the program of the democratic coalition on foreign policy issues, which is brand new and which was confirmed today.
So what are going to be the major features of Ukraine’s foreign policy? First of all, this will be the return to the foreign policy as it has been designed after the Orange Revolution and after the election of Viktor Yushchenko as the president. So there will be a return to the priorities of foreign policy, which were set up by President Yushchenko and were implemented during one year and a half – that is 2005 and first half of 2006. Second, there will be a return to the situation in which Ukraine will again become a subject, not object of European and international foreign policy. Ukraine’s foreign policy will be demonstrated as the foreign policy of consistency.
Another feature, I predict that Ukraine’s foreign policy will again be expressed by one voice and not many voices. Also, I predict that Ukrainian foreign policy will return to its major features – the active foreign policy – and Ukraine will regain the status of a regional leader, which it lost during last year.
Well, there is something which is not going to be changed. That is, the president will continue to play a decisive role in foreign policy leadership. And last but not least, for the first time in Ukraine’s modern history, there will be a majority in Verkhovna Rada and the government that will demonstrate concerted position on foreign policy together with the president. So these are going to be on my point of view the major features of a new foreign policy of Ukraine after the elections, again, provided that the results of the elections are not going to be distorted.
Now, I am going to acquaint you in a short term with the program of the democratic coalition, which was announced today in Kiev, and the chapter four concerning Ukraine’s foreign policy, which is referred to as Ukraine and the world. So this is the program on which we have agreed together, two coalitions, which created the majority, Our Ukraine-People Self-Defense, and the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko. The two sides which created the democratic coalition committed themselves to continue the foreign policy course based on legislation including strategic objectives such as joining NATO and European Union and preserving good neighborhood relations with Russia, other neighboring countries, consolidation of position of the leader in the Eastern European Black Sea region. Second, the strategic objective of the coalition will be the membership in the European Union and secure energy independence. So this is our commitment to security.
What are our priority objectives? That is the completion of the process of joining WTO, beginning of negotiations with the European Union on free trade area, provided that Ukraine joins the WTO, NATO membership with reference to referendum, and we have committed ourselves to join membership action plan, and committed to adopt all necessary legislative acts for this to take place.
We committed ourselves to adopt a law on the fundamentals of foreign policy, which is the constitutional requirements, which will include EU and NATO membership, strategic relationship with Russia, Poland, and the United States. We committed that our government, created by our two political forces, and perhaps with other partners, will complete legal fixation of the borders of Ukraine, including Belaurs – demarcation of the border with Belarus, Russia, and Moldova – completion of the process of delimitation of sea borders with Romania, and conclusion of agreement with Russia on Azov and Kerch Straits sea delimitations.
With regard to GUUAM, we are committed to complete the process of transformation of this institution into a full-fledged regional international organization. We will continue to actively participate in the initiative, which is known as Community of Democratic Choice, combining three major regions – Baltic, Black, and Caspian Sea regions. And we see this process as a value-based dimension of Ukraine’s foreign policy, its respect to democracy, and human rights.
Also, we will continue active participation and peacekeeping operations. As to the Transdniestrian settlement, we will continue – together with the United States and the European Union – the process of settlement on the basis of the plan, which was put forward by Viktor Yushchenko at the beginning of his term as president. We will continue to implement the state program on informing population on Euro-Atlantic integration, and we will commit ourselves to implement our agreements with NATO in the military sphere.
We will work with Russia and other CIS countries on the creation of free-trade area. And we will begin negotiations, as I said earlier, with the European Union on free trade area after completion the process of membership into WTO. We will deepen the strategic partnership with the Russian Federation, the United States, and Poland. So this is going to be one of the strategic objectives. And we will commit ourselves to integrate our transportation network to all European infrastructure.
So these are our vision of two coalitions, which have created today and announced the coalition of democratic forces. And hopefully, this time, this coalition will have the chance to work, because this is the will of the people. And we hope that our opponents will not do their utmost in order to prevent this people’s will from being implemented. Thank you for your attention.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you very much. I think that there are going to be a large number of questions on this, but as I understand, this is a program that was agreed to and the details of which you have told us agreed to today.
Mr. Tarasyuk: Yes.
Mr. Kempe: And Ambassador Gryshchenko, that seems to answer the question – or at least one possibility of the question of Ukraine’s foreign policy direction after the elections – there is a bold list of initiatives. I think we’ll follow up later to see what comes first, how it gets executed, what are priorities in this long list of ambitious goals. But I wonder if you could give your own vision of what you think Ukraine’s foreign policy direction is going to be following these elections?
Kostyantyn Gryshchenko: Well, thank you. I would like also to thank you for organizing this event. Now, when I listen to my colleague, Mr. Tarasyuk, I thought that if everything is to be achieved, what he declared is the goal of the coalition that calls itself democratic, then it will be paradise on earth immediately. It would be nice; it would be great; that would be excellent. And everyone here and in the streets all across the globe will applaud the results, if and when they are achieved.
Essentially, on most of the issues that were presented, there is a wide consensus in Ukraine. There are some issues where tactically different political forces have a difference of views. When, how, and what form to achieve this or that particular result should be asked the opinion of the Ukrainian people before, let’s say, taking the final decision on joining NATO. It seems that everyone agrees now that referendum is needed, including the coalition.
What is important – and I believe here we should really concentrate not that much on what is declaratory beautiful goals, but what are the difficulties we have faced in the last few years, and how we could overcome in Ukraine them to really become a solid valuable ally of the countries that we have declared our strategic partners. How we formulate our foreign policy strategy with Russia, for example? That is an issue.
It’s not the declaration that we would be strategic partners and we’ll deepen it with Russia, and at the same time with the United States, at the time where divisions between the two great powers is really becoming an issue of everyday
concern. To the rest of the world, not to mention the capitals, it is an important, professional, specific issue that needs to be answered in Ukraine, and hopefully with the advice with concerned interest from our friends here in the United States.
What would be the best formula to present a unified voice in international affairs? Should it be done at the expense or through simply pushing almost half of Ukraine outside of the internal debate, or opportunity to influence the decision that all of the country will have then to implement? Whether we will continue the attempt to present one political force, or I would say, coalition of forces as the only democratic choice of Ukrainians. And then, impose the will of that particular group on the other half of Ukraine. I believe that the best solution for the next two years would be a formation of a widely based consensus on the issues that do not divide Ukrainians but unite them. On the issues that would provide practical outcome and results to ordinary people, but also would create the best opportunities for economic development.
I believe also that we have achieved quite a lot in the last couple of years. We have learned that in Ukraine, the desire to present one’s self as someone who knows the eternal truth and then impose whatever you think is right on the others doesn’t work. We are not Russian; we have no similarities with many, many other countries. What we have as our national trait, at least today, is first real divisions that were created historically, politically – in many cases artificially, but nonetheless, they do exist. We need to face it and not to ignore it, because it will only lead to further problems inside the country.
Second point: We have seen in the last year and a half that the foreign policy institutions, which are controlled by the president and headed by whoever he decides to nominate there, have chosen to conduct a more restrained, more pragmatic foreign policy. And there, the prime minister supported that particular policy, which was voiced by current foreign minister, Mr. Yatsenyuk who is not a professional, but rational man who simply learned from his experience, but also – I understand – under the instructions of the president – has made it clear that Ukraine would gain more if it follows the policy that creates more friends and less enemies.
We have a major dilemma. It is how to move forward with serious result timed to meet the expectations of Ukrainian economic development, but also of ordinary Ukrainians vis-à-vis European Union, how we can achieve the practical goals of agreeing on a free trade area with the EU, how at the same time we can preserve and even improve our position on Russian market, how we can create the material basis needed to have Ukraine at least approach the standards that would allow us talk on equal terms with EU, with Brussels, with major capitals. If we would simply concentrate on political slogans, on the very beautiful goals that are not substantiated by the economic aspects of our development, of helping Ukraine become a more strong force, more united one than we would lose this chance, in other words.
Today, foreign policy is a hostage to internal developments of Ukraine. Whoever will become the head of government will have to work with the president because the president has special role in the foreign policy. Prime Minister Yanukovych has repeatedly stated and the president has confirmed it that essentially, they do not have strategic differences. What they do have in many cases are some of the tactical difference of views of how to best achieve certain goals.
I think that if – and I believe it is quite possible that the final political configuration for the next two years would be based on the need to create synergy of different political forces, that opposition and the government could work together on major foreign policy agenda issues, we could get a major breakthrough in relations with EU. We can strengthen our strategic partnership with the United States, and we can preserve and improve our partnership – as my colleagues said, strategic partnership with Russia in the mean time. But if we want to achieve all three goals, we need to be pragmatic, less ideological, and more concentrated on result-oriented problems.
Let me also say a couple of words of what the alternative brings. If the result will be pressure of on one side of the country putting on the other, and if we do return to confrontation and mass purges of professionals – thanks God – they were not seen in the foreign policy area, and I believe the role of Minister Tarasyuk at that time was a very important one. But in other areas, thousands of people lost their jobs without any adequate substitutes replacing them. If we would then immerse ourselves in never-ending desire and effort to subvert whoever is in government by those who have not joined them, then it would be a major loss for the company.
In the end, Ukraine needs major reforms in the constitutional area. It needs major reforms within the judiciary. It needs a major program to fight corruption. This can only be done through joining forces of different political forces, of different political bodies. Everyone seemed to agree on that. The problem is mostly personal ambitions, ambitions of the leaders, ambitions of those who would like to get ministerial positions, ambitions of those who don’t listen but mostly preach.
And I think the Ukrainians are already tired of that. They look at politicians and measure them on their ability to deliver. If past record shows that declarations were not met, were not followed with practical, specific concrete results, they would not support these politicians in the long run. So whatever will be the final composition of the government, I think it can only be successful if its elements would be able to work constructively with the president and would also be able to form very open and interactive dialogue with the opposition.
And lastly, in two years, we will have presidential elections. Before that, we need to at least make a major program on all these three issues – I mean, reform inside the country. And then, hopefully, we could form a more coherent political system, which would allow us to produce not only programs that sound beautiful, but also ability to implement them. And I think major political leaders, whatever their declarations are today, will be able to concentrate on that very important program and achievement of this goal. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you very much, Mr. Gryschenko. And I think, having heard your two predecessors, first of all, I thank you both gentlemen for not boring us. I think you’ve laid out two quite different but in many ways overlapping views. And I think I’m going to turn to you, but I want to lay out a couple things that I hope you’ll deal with in your comments.
Mr. Tarasyuk says Mr. Gryshchenko is talking about paradise on earth. But it seems to me the only true paradise on earth in your view is if one can bring together the two parts of Ukraine in a way that I gather that he doesn’t think that you necessarily would do. He’s pushing that half of Ukraine isn’t kept outside. He does point out that both gentlemen seem to agree that a NATO referendum is needed. But in your list of priorities, it is a strategic partnership with the U.S., not NATO and the EU, so there’s some differences there. And then, also, I think we have to pick up this very interesting notion that Mr. Tarasyuk has raised for us over the possibility of the results being, quote, unquote, “distorted.” And things perhaps not quite done yet.
So there’s a lot to pick up on. I’m sure you have your own opening comments you’d like to make. But any of these other issues that you can pick up as you get us going further would be appreciated.
Hryhoriy Nemyria: Thank you. I promised that I will improvise when we disc
ussed the plan. So I try to fulfill this promise, and we’ll start with immediately reacting to what I think is the statement I cannot but agree that Ambassador Gryshchenko just made. He said the Ukrainians, they look and measure politicians on their ability to deliver. This is precisely the notion, the statement that explains the results of the elections. So the measurement done in a way that clearly put the votes according to the ability or the perception of the politicians to deliver.
And as my colleagues already mentioned some directions they took about policies and the priorities, I would like to take a little bit different approach and give you an observation of some changes that could have a direct impact on the policy priorities, one, and secondly, on the efficiency of their implementation.
The first change, which Borys Tarasyuk already highlighted, that for the first time after the Orange Revolution, we’re going to see not just government, the cabinet of ministers, which is more cohesive than any previous cabinet of ministers; but also that this cabinet will enjoy a majority in the parliament, which was not the case in 2005 when the cabinet of Tymoshenko, which was just made by her name, but she never had an opportunity to nominate the members of her own cabinet.
And also, the majority, the parliament that the first orange government inherited, was the parliament formed, elected under the – (in Ukrainian). That explains, by the way, the case of June 2005, when Tymoshenko government presented to the parliament, to the Verkhovna Rada, the WTO package, and the Verkhovna Rada failed to vote on this, and one of the reasons that it was the old government. So that discrepancy now is going to be removed. For the first time in the last three years, we’re going to see a more cohesive cabinet, and the parliament with a majority that reflects the results of the elections.
Number two: the stability of this arrangement. According to Ukrainian laws, the parliament cannot be dismissed, at minimum, for a year after the elections. The cabinet also will not – anybody would not be able to dismiss the cabinet or the prime minister because the program of the cabinet is going to be approved in the first week of the parliament in session. That gives also immunity for these unexpected surprises, at least for a year; never before such conditions existed.
The second observation about expectations: Ironically enough, the mere fact that the expectations with the new government are relatively low gives some comfort for this new cabinet to deliver. In the striking contrast of enormously high expectations immediately after the Orange Revolution inflated, on the one hand, because the people wanted the quick change to happen, and on the other hand the usual trip that any government sometimes experiencing overestimated what can be done in the short term and underestimated what can be done in the longer term. So the low expectations, lower-than-usual expectations, could create an environment where the government could act in an order with discipline they very much needed.
The leadership factor: A very important one, which would also bring some additional confidence on this opportunity to be used fully. And this leadership factor I will describe in the words of Margaret Thatcher, whom Yulia Tymoshenko recently met. One of the favorite expressions of Madame Thatcher was, the lady’s not for turning. So this is very important, leadership factor, which we expect to play a positive role.
And I would like just to read the first paragraph, a couple of sentences, of the memo on the foreign policy and the national security priorities I wrote immediately after elections, the next day after elections, to Yulia Tymoshenko. It says every stateswoman must reconcile what she wants to achieve with what it is possible to achieve. What Ukraine wants is enhanced national security, stable and predictable relationships with Russia, and the roadmap toward the middle to longer-term goal of membership in the European Union and the NATO. What is possible will depend on Ukraine effectively utilizing its resources, geographic position, and determination on how the resources, determination, and structures of other states are deployed. This is the entry point to a challenge that Ukraine never, until now, met fully, namely its geographic location. That, despite controversies involved, was usually perceived more as a liability rather than an asset. So there is a challenge for the new team in power, enjoying these better institutional conditions, other aspects I mentioned, to turn the geography into the value-added factor.
But there is a host of issues including the energy, relationships with its neighbors; a renewed positive role, constructive role, on Ukraine in helping to solve frozen conflicts both in Caucuses that is high possibility that could be unfrozen: Abkhazia, Ossetia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh; and also, of course, the neighboring Transdniestrian conflict. Approaching the issue of building consensus within the society is very much needed factor for the confident and consistent foreign policy to be implemented.
I would like to react to the term and the vision that Ambassador Gryshchenko mentioned. He basically repeated, I think, the stereotype, which never was correct. But there is a persistence with which the stereotype is replicated, namely about Ukraine being divided into the west and the east. This is bipolar vision of Ukraine never been correct, in my view, and I am speaking this as somebody who grown up in the east of Ukraine, from Donetsk – Donbass. And these elections provided a new and a very convincing evidences that this perception of Ukraine being divided, and therefore the task of any responsible politicians on the top to bridge this divide by helping or forming the coalition between the orange and the blue, it’s no more valid.
Look at the results of the elections: The BYuT won in 15 provinces out of 24; 15 out of 24, plus capital city of Kiev. The regions basically did the same in eight oblasts, 8 provinces, plus city of Sevastopol and Crimea. But what is different? We’ve not just increased again with two provinces, will not just get 1.5 million more while the regions 150,000 less. What is important that the BYuT and Our Ukraine strengthened their support base in the west and in the center, and the BYuT make very visible gain in the east of Ukraine: Kharkhiv, the stronghold of the regions Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Dnipropetrovsk. While the regions, they suffered most in their stronghold in Donetsk, minus 130,000 votes this time. What it indicates, it indicates that the regions cannot anymore pretend that they have a political monopoly for the representation of the east of Ukraine, which is good in itself; monopoly is a bad thing in the economy, and monopoly is a very bad thing in the politics.
But look on the positive side: Regions managed to slightly increase their votes, both in the west of Ukraine and in the center. So which further making a step by their relative success, relative success in the west and in the center, to developing as a party that represents not just eastern and southern provinces and Crimea. So in this way, Ukraine is becoming a normal country where regional differences as part of the everyday life, which have some political significance in the time of the elections, but not anymore. And it’s never been my strong point, the country that divided on the east and on the west. So therefore any construction of the cabinet, the government, and the foreign policy based on this perceived divide, is a wrong thing, misleading, and therefore counterproductive.
I would like, also, to make one more notion which was not frequently addressed, and I think this is a perfect opportunity now for the new government to address this issue, namely about enhancing national security through privatization and foreign direct investments. It’s usually discussed, was discussed, and is discussed, in purely economic terms. What is freque
ntly missing of this discussion, a potential that most privatization and FDI has, in terms of politics and power.
If you look at the FDI patterns, if you look at the 60 years of doing the privatization in Ukraine and attracting the FDI, it signals you a very important systemic failure of almost every Ukrainian government. They like to attract FDI strategic foreign direct investments from the key countries for providing, enhancing, Ukraine’s own understanding of its own national security. There is no absence, strategic, foreign direct investments from Germany, United States, United Kingdom; Japan, the second-largest economy in the world, has no strategic state in the Ukraine’s economy. The same has to do with the opportunities that China may provide for Ukraine, and these opportunities are not utilized. This is the issue that any government interested in success should take seriously, the issue of serious material stake in Ukraine’s stability and in Ukraine’s future because if we continue to ignore this dimension of national security and foreign policy, this would not be just bad business; it will be politically dangerous.
It brings me to the issue I would specifically would not mention because of the lack of time, but the pivotal role that Ukraine could place in enhancing energy security in the continent, and securing a transcontinental partnership approach to tackling this issue, both in the short term and in the longer term.
As you see, the menu is full; the conditions, in my view, much better than immediately after the Orange Revolution and after the setbacks in 2006. What is needed, a cohesive government that would not put – and I agree here with Ambassador Gryschenko – personal ambitions higher than the national interest for Ukraine, and there are some institutional developments that would minimize this risk. The challenge is numerous, but nobody thought it was going to be easy. It’s going to be very, very difficult. But the mere fact that we are talking now about integrating the opposition, making it comfortable in the parliament, gives the chance for the party and regions to develop a more Ukrainian-centric vision of the national foreign policy priorities of Ukraine, to be constructed with the earliest test coming next month, namely the vote in the parliament on one or two laws that are needed for the WTO – (off mike) – yeah, small test, but a test to be seen; and then the whole process of the ratification of the WTO entrance. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. I’m going to go to the audience quickly, so please get ready and I see oh-so-many questions, so I’m going to get you all down.
There’s one sort of open conflict here, which is the east-west divide; there are so many other questions that need to be decided. But I wonder if Ambassador Gryshchenko can at least deal with this: Your warning against the perpetuation of this divide, and it even getting worse, while Mr. Nemyria is saying we’ve taken care of that, this election has moved things on. And if you could answer that briefly so we can get to as many questions as possible, I appreciate it.
Mr. Gryshchenko: Let me simply say that I do agree with the figures because clearly, the fact that regions got more in the west and BYuT got more in the east shows that, first, democratic country where everyone makes his own choice; second, that in the last year or so, much was done to patch this divide, and that helped a lot, including through the preparation of Yanukovych with the president, who worked together in many cases. And that helped, really, ameliorate the situation in that regard. And I believe if they continue to work together that will be even better results in the future, including with the support of whoever will be in opposition. Let’s not pre-judge the voting in the parliament because, unfortunately, we simply don’t know what results will be. And it’s natural for members of parliament to project their full confidence in the end result. Unfortunately, not being a member of parliament, as a private citizen, I have serious doubts about that ability to master the needed votes, including in their own teams.
But again, it is democratic process: If they master, they will form the coalition that will govern the country. Clearly, there is no question about it. And then the parties that will not join the coalition will be in opposition; it’s as simple as that. But simply to ignore the fact that there is a difference, which is real, which is not putting the country in danger but is something that the politicians need to take into account, would not be responsible simply to say that everything is fine and the rest, the counters might sleep well, would be tantamount to simply ignoring a real problem that the government needs to address. That has less foreign policy, I believe, implications but it has serious long-term implications for stability of any kind of government that we might have.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. And I think Ambassador Tarasyuk has asked for a right of response as well.
Mr. Tarasyuk: Thank you.
I agree with an analysis given by Hryhoriy Nemyria concerning the division of the country. For this, I would like to add the following: That the first time in modern time after Ukraine regains independence, we witness the division of the country into two parts as a result of irresponsible presidential campaign conducted by Victor Yanukovych. So he, in fact, introduced the division into Ukrainian society discrediting their foreign policy course concerning NATO membership, concerning western countries and cooperation with the west. And this division unfortunately still is going on.
I would like to remind that this was President Yushchenko who, summer last year, after the failed negotiations concerning the creation of the coalition, initiated the first-ever attempt to reunite the divided country after the presidential campaign of 2004 by conducting a political roundtable and suggesting the basis for this reunification, known as universal of national unity. Unfortunately our partners, after they got what they wanted, what Kostyantyn Gryshchenko is rejecting, after they got the positions, all positions, they immediately disregarded the joint document, universal of national unity. This is the actual, you know, position on the division of the country and who is trying to reunite the country. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. Let’s also, in the questions, even though we went into this a bit here because I think it was necessary to play out – let’s try to focus as much on the subject of foreign policy directions after the election, please. And if you could identify yourself and to whom you’d like to address the question, and let’s try to – very brief questions, very brief answers, so that we can get through as many as possible, please.
Q: Thank you. Andrei Piontkovsky, Hudson Institute Visiting Fellow.
There is much during your presentation you three times made a – (unintelligible) – reservation, if result of elections are not distorted. As our moderator, I also curious what are your apprehensions to expect? Mr. Maros (ph) maybe make some court appeals, or some rather defection of some Rada deputies – (inaudible).
Mr. Tarasyuk: Thank you. You know, I’m referring to very probable things which may take place, which may repeat what has been the reason of the current political crisis; that is, political corruption and buying-out of deputies like Potatu (ph) by our opponents. So if it is going to repeat in this same manner, it will put the country into mess. So that’s what I mean because we know I have the information that the Party of Regions are approaching, some of the new elected deputies and from BYuT suggesting, you know, well, skyscraper-high sums for either not to register or to join, you know, another political for
ce. That means that we may face again the cynical attempt to change the results of elections like it used to be the case last year.
Mr. Nemyria: May I – just a sentence on that. I think what some people meant on that, this is a so-called 150 factor, the regions’ threat they made public, and also in some closed meetings, that they may not register in the parliaments so they in peace will not be sworn in , and that the parliament will not become functional. This is a threat; our view on this threat was from the very beginning that this was a bluff for two reasons. One, they’re not registered; that in 60 days’ term the new elections, fresh elections, will take place with the regions suffering even more than in these elections for two reasons. These elections are considered as free and fair; as such, that corresponds to the (OEC ?) standards.
It was Regions who said that they will go to these elections, and there is nothing that could now justify before their voters the reasons why they’re not taking this responsibility. And number two, why it is bluff that threaten in peace, and even if they would try to implement this they would ruin a hardly-won legitimacy in the west, including the United States, as a responsible political party that cheers stability, and would hate any steps that would de-stabilize the country.
That’s number one; and number two has to do with the vote, which Kostantyn Gryshchenko mentioned that it expects to see the vote in the parliament. The mere proposition that this going to happen, it also speaks a lot about the still, kind of, the instruments used and potentially could be used to change the people’s mandate. So I think the mere proposition that this could take place speaks a lot.
Mr. Gryshchenko: Now, let me say a couple of words.
Mr. Kempe: You know, I would think so.
Mr. Gryshchenko: No, no, just a second because, you know, when someone declaring itself a democratic coalition tries to put something into other mouths which was not said, it is not the best way to, you know, promote so-called democracy within the democratic so-called coalition.
What I wanted to say, what exactly if you wish, is many of the members of the coalition who publicly stated that they would not vote for a certain person, and they are well-respected personalities, political ones, who have been at the top of the governmental positions within the Orange, or part of Orange, whatever, government before. They have publicly stated that under no circumstances – and it has nothing to do with region, with whatever it has a lot to do with my personal apprehension as a private citizen, that whatever is declared as already settled might not happen.
And for me, the major concern is exactly stability of the country. If you master 220 votes, great; there is nothing wrong about it; excellent, if you’re able to. The problem with Ukrainian politics is that beautiful, very confident words are very often not supported by actual facts because there, we have too many free riders or people with personal opinions who do not care for the opinions of their leaders. That is, on the one hand, democracy; and on the other hand, it’s a fact of life. Please, please, don’t interpret what I say in a manner which has nothing to do with what I tried to deliver to the public here.
And also I would suggest that we extrapolate a little bit from whatever will be in the parliament in the next week, or two weeks, or two months because in the mean time, the country does not care that much what particular this-or-that leader wish to exactly negotiate with his or her partner. What the country needs is progress, progress in every month. We cannot wait two weeks, three months, for our relationship on negotiations with EU. We need to do it today, and we continue to do it. Whatever the government will be, there will be nothing new, exactly, that we would instill in these negotiations because it’s not only us; it’s also our partners. And if we propose to bring guests from Iran through Ukraine to Europe, then better ask Washington, and ask EU whether it’s doable or not. So let’s concentrate on what is achievable, and through which methods, which tools in the next two years, actually, it’s the best timeframe. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: So far we’ve had a very rich insight into the workings of Ukrainian democracy, gentlemen; and I actually think it’s very valuable because I think one gets a very good feeling of some of the obstacles you’re up against. When the world is saying, well gee, why can’t you come to us with a clear voice about what you –
There is a question in the back, and then here in front. Thank you.
Q: I’m Adrian Karmizan, with Voice of America. And I’m sorry, I know we want to finish this topic, but I just wanted to ask Hryhoriy Nemyria, what is this confidence level that they do have the 226 votes they’ll need to elect the prime minister. Is the vote a secret ballot, will you know who voted for whom? And in the end, I know that Mr. Lucenko had, for example, already criticized the mystery of Yakhinudov (ph) about, you know, not supporting Miss Tymoshenko. So can you just give us a snapshot of how you’re handling this issue, with possible defections?
Mr. Kempe: And please, very brief on this one so we can –
Mr. Nemyria: Very briefly. I am fully confident that if the vote will take place, and the best-case scenario it could take place as early as in two weeks’ time, maybe three weeks’ time, that we will get not just 228 votes but more because I believe the colleagues of Ambassador Gryshchenko shares his view that the sooner the government is in place, the better. So they will support.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. Here.
Q: Bohdan Futey from the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Gentlemen, welcome. In the past two years, it seems to me that the country was being run from one side or the other by political agreement, trying to agree on things at the expense of laws in the constitution. And the institution-building as such has not happened; to the contrary, institutions like the courts, and especially the constitutional court of Ukraine, have been discredited, and that is existing at this time. No foreign policy can be conducted unless there’s credibility in institutions such as the courts.
What, in your program, do you intend to do about this fact?
Mr. Nemyria: Just confirm that this is a very fair and very timely observation. And I think there is no differences across the political spectrum that this is the highest priority, especially taking into account that our view was always that elections are not enough. What is needed, the constitutional change conducted in transparent and democratic manner that would provide the rules and the independent judiciary that only fragmentally exists in Ukraine. And I cannot but agree with you that the constitutional court is extremely important. So this is, again, the test for all political parties to pass the package that was already approved, and went through the expertise of the Viennese Commission of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, as the concept for the judicial and constitutional reform.
Mr. : Although the constitutional court has nothing to do directly with the foreign policy, but at least there is a constitutional claim waiting its consideration by the constitutional court as to the procedure of dismissing two ministers, including the foreign and defense minister. And this was because of the anti-constitutional case in their Verkhovna Rada against the foreign minister.
But as to the constitutional court, I think that we have to change the procedure of forming the constitutional court to avoid politicization of constitutional cou
rt, and to choose in favor of professionality rather than political loyalty. So this is one of the issue, and another issue we need – a deep judicial reform, and this relates to all judiciary system in Ukraine. We have the program, according to which we suggest to provide the system of elected judges on the – you know, lower level – (in Ukrainian). So this may be one of the parts of the reform. Thank you.
Q: Yeah, hi. Adrian Karatnycky. Among my affiliations is one with the Atlantic Council. I would like to return more specifically to two dimensions of the neighborhood relationship.
And the first is the relationship with Russia and Russia’s signals that it is interested in withdrawing from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. That has major implications since much of the stationing is in areas within Ukraine’s backyard. What might be the implications in terms of the discussion over NATO accession, and how might that factor influence the internal public debate and consensus within the political elite if Russia moves in that direction?
And the second is we were tantalizing told about a series of ideas about energy diversification and so on. Can you give us three specific initiatives that would constitute movement in the direction of energy diversification, and then I would like to hear from Ambassador Gryshchenko whether those are initiatives that the region’s consensus might support, any of them or all of them, or none of them.
Mr. Gryshchenko: Yeah, I would start with the last question, the three diversification projects. Number one, Georgia-Ukraine–EU; number two, there is Caspian, Georgia, Black Sea, Ukraine, EU; number two, to make use, finally, with additional effort, significant effort to apply for the Odessa (broadly ?). And number two, maybe the most efficient diversification project: (in Ukrainian).
Mr. Kempe: Let’s come back to Russia and –
Mr. Gryshchenko: And then bring Yulia Tymoshenko in. That is exactly.
Mr. Kempe: Let’s come back to Russia in a second. Are all of these do-able. Would Regions support these initiatives?
Mr. Gryshchenko: Well, let me simply start. It’s in the same way as brining Iranian gas to Ukraine, and then on to Europe.
Mr. : Very difficult.
Mr. Gryshchenko: You know, first and foremost, professionally, one needs to answer the question, is there enough gas to be brought out, how it would be brought, what is the relationship between Russia and Turkmenistan, and to many other professional issues, which need to be addressed.
Mr. Kempe: But would you for or against the initiatives –
Mr. Gryshchenko: The initiatives, for, if they can bring them in with results, excellent. It’s simply excellent. If it is doable, then great to the team that brings it in. But simply the Turkmeni gas has been contracted by Russia, whatever they wish – to send itself to China. We need to work really to get as much as possible. It is one of the avenues – serious avenues is return, return to nuclear, which is serious, making sure that the project for proliferation of nuclear fuel is done and is going through – is now being supported by – not now, but supported secondly by the government, the current one.
That helps bring nuclear fuel not only from Russia but from the United States, something I did hear personally when the ambassadors sitting here were also helping very much in sometimes simply preserving them because at a certain moment, there was not enough pumps, but building additional capacity. It is bio-fuel program, which is one of the major projects for the government. It is conservation which can bring much more insofar as national energy security is concerned than anything of these particular projects. It’s bringing liquefied gas, LNG. And the same – (inaudible) – has decided really to build a terminal in this, and it’s a major investment, which would bring it either through a – (inaudible) – or directly from – (inaudible) – or whatever other source.
It is essentially a major multifaceted program that is not pie in the sky. It is not dependent on whoever the new leader of Turkmenistan will decide, or whatever incentives the Chinese market could provide them where the China might be much more, I would say, accessible, and more important market for them in the future. We believe that it would be extremely important to engage in an improvement of the gas transportation system in Ukraine itself to cut the losses, and for that, there is a major program, major initiatives, together with European Union, some of them.
That is practical work. It is not populism as such. We need to concentrate on implementation of what we can achieve through our own forces and through employing our own engineerial and entrepreneurial potential.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. Ambassador –
Mr. : Just a brief comment because the question as I understood the question was about diversification about energy supply I think. And what you mentioned is the energy basket which could be formed with different sources, which I fully agree, and which was already a draft energy strategy designed under the Tymoshenko government back in 2005. It was the nuclear cold liquid – a little bit less than bio-fuel. I think it’s still overestimated, the potential of it to substitute significantly that. And of course there is nothing that contradicts that. But the question was on the diversification of energy supply.
Mr. Kempe: And on that question, I’m hearing some consensus, where he seems to have agreed to your diversification of supply, if you can pull it off, and you’re agreeing on alternative energy, so we can go forward.
Let’s talk about another practical question coming off Adrian, which is the Russia question. Adrian formed it – Adrian formed it specifically about the force reduction and the link to NATO accession. But let me layer one other thing on that, which is what is the first thing a new administration ought to do in the first couple of months toward Russia, but also if you could deal with Adrian’s question.
Mr. Nemyria: (In Ukrainian, laughter.) Okay, okay. On my point of view, there is no direct connection between the decision of Russia as to CFE Treaty and the quest for NATO membership. This is going to be the problem for all parties to this treaty, including to Ukraine because the retreat of Russia from CFE Treaty would mean the limited possibility for us, Ukrainian, to check the abidance by the provisions of this treaty by Russians in Ukraine – I mean, in the Black Sea fleet.
So this is my answer to this issue. While what could be done by a new government as to Russia, well, for the sake of time I would not, you know, concentrate much on our vision of this issue. But I would like to say that we are simply going to move behind the scenes, well, arrangements between Ukrainian authorities and Russian authorities. So this is the major problem. It used to be the problem, and it is still the problem, and especially under the government of Victor Yanukovych because it is not known to the members of this government what the minister of fuel and energy is talking about in Russia. So it is not being agreed on any usual way with the foreign ministry or with the secretariat of the president. So we have to pragmatize our relationship with Russia, and this is the general approach, the way we did during 2005, 2006.
Mr. Kempe: I wonder if you can deal with this, and also if you could deal with the question of you said one needed a roadmap to NATO, to the EU. Given if you can win Ukrainian citizenry to your side, how do you win the Russians to the idea that this might be a good course?
With Russia, the BYuT was the only party in the election that in addition to party manifesto, which is limited by definition because by the law, it’s 5,700 symbols. So therefore we put five pages about BYuT foreign policy platform, which has a special chapter on Russia and regional issues, a page and a half, which is available in English in our website. And it starts with the entry point that the vision of Ukraine that we share is not in the breach between the post-Soviet space, dominated by Russia, and the mature European democracies. Ukraine has a clear – not European choice, but European vocation, which is a much stronger notion, with the whole consequences of that. And part of the Ukraine mission, as a country with European vocation, to contribute to deconstruction of the post-Soviet space with managed democracy, harassed civil society, absence of free media, monopolies in the economy and over-centralization. So this is part of our mission.
The best model of the Ukraine-Russian relationships we could dream of has to do not just with the current state but with the process that led to the French-German relationships. Sometimes we are asking whether we’d share the view of Canada-U.S., I always say that the European example is closer to us, as Ukraine is a European country; Germany and France is very important, plus France and Germany still compete, always compete, and they now compete even more, who is the real leader for the European project. There is no such competition that exists between the Russian federation and Ukraine because Ukraine wants to be a member of the European Union, and Russian Federation doesn’t want it.
So in the best way, how we describe this model is a step-by-step, very constructive relationships, which involve a set of the principles which every responsible government, both in the Russian federation – and accountable government, and Ukraine would share. We all know what these principles are.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you. We’re down to the last five or six minutes. I have a question here. Let me take these two questions here, and identify yourself and please, to whom you would like to address the question.
Q: I’m Morgan Williams; I’m president of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council.
A very practical question for Hryhoriy: One of the top-priority unresolved issues between the United States and Ukraine is the fact that a major economic development program of the United States is totally closed for Ukraine, and has been for several years; that’s the overseas private investment corporation. They have a $500 million economic support facility ready to open for Ukraine, but they have a claim against the government of Ukraine that’s been there since 1999. And very frankly I’ve looked closely at this, and the Ukraine government has never seriously taken this claim to heart and tried to sit down and resolve this claim with the overseas private investment corporation. So would the resolvement of this very important issue be a part of your agenda, and something you say that you could take on seriously within the first 100 days if your group is in charge?
Mr. Kempe: One more, one more question.
Q: Thank you. Embassy of Moldova, Todo Vanovski (ph). Thank you so much for the information.
The question is, of course, with regards to the foreign policy of Ukraine regarding its neighbor Moldova. And so the question is how elections will impact the efforts of solving the Transdniestrian issue, and will the elections and future formed government change its policy with regards to the Ukraine participation in the EUBAM, European Union Border Assistance Mission.
And Mr. Nemyria, you mentioned that in the program there would be a new constructive role in solving frozen conflicts. Can you please elaborate on that? Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: Why don’t you take on minute on OPEC, and if you could deal quickly, with Transdneistria, and then we’ll do a quick one-minute-each last round.
Mr. Nemyria: To Morgan Williams: We do aware of this outstanding issue. I cannot promise that this is something that can be done and completed in the first 100 days, but definitely we are aware of this issue and we are willing to solve it for the benefit of all the parties involved. Just to give you another example that the opportunity still untapped and under-utilized, the MCC Millennium Challenge account, which has different frame but changing still an opportunity and the responsible government should use it.
And in terms of the question on Moldova, definitely; I think Andriy Veselovskiy is the best person in this room that could answer you, this question. Therefore I would not use, but the government is definitely committed to be predictable on that.
And the question on the new activists in the Soviet regional conflicts: You know, there are some nuances that Ukraine could be very well be part of the constructive arrangements. It has to do, for example, with very cold but attentive approach to the Turki-Armenia-Azari think, which is Ukraine has the opportunity and they utilize, and Ukraine is a Black Sea country, could have oil which would still need to be carefully exploited, and a number of others. And I would just restrain myself from details because this is still change they’re making.
Mr. : On (Transdniestria/Transnistria) I did refer to this issue in our foreign policy part of the program of the democratic coalition, but I would like to say a bit more. The new initiative of President Yushchenko was designed in 2005, and directly and indirectly, I was involved into this initiative. So I may guarantee that we will, of course, continue with more active emphasis on the participation in Transdniestrian settlement. And of course EUBAM was, you know, our invention together with the European Union, this was and still is a unique mission; not only for Ukraine and Moldova, but for European Union itself. So of course, we will continue and we have agreed to continue the EUBAM mission until 2009. So this benefits better neighborhood relationship with Moldova definitely, and this is narrowing the base of corruption and smuggling with the Transdniestrian region.
Mr. Kempe: Thank you very much.
I’m going to go in reverse order of where we started, and I’m going to ask you a question for which, if you could, restrict yourself to a sentence or two, really one minute. And that is – first of all, we of the Atlantic Council and our partner, Walter Zaryckyj, in this, and who organized this whole session, and there’s a roundtable conference focused on Ukraine-EU relations here tomorrow and Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan building, and Walter, thank you so much, I’ll come back to thank you again.
But here’s the question: We’d like to get you back a year from now at some point. When we come back, what’s the one issue, the one most important issue by which we’re going to measure Ukraine’s foreign policy success after these elections? One issue. And if we could start in reverse order of how we went through, so perhaps you can start, Mr. Nemyria.
Mr. Nemyria: The fruits of the WTO membership will be available wi
th the open way to continue with the stable government, the EU process, which would lead us to the new enhanced agreement, which would firmly position Ukraine and strengthen the anchor that Ukraine was very much missing; namely, it’s the European anchor. So it is the success story I want to see in a year.
Mr. Kempe: WTO membership plus new enhanced relationship with the European Union.
Mr. Gryshchenko: WTO is there, so we don’t really need to see it as a major success because it’s there; we only need to vote; that will be it. So that is not a major success in itself. I believe the major issue will not be easy, but it is done because most of it is done, you should understand it.
The major issue, I believe, in one year’s time, is the ability of Ukrainian government to speak with one voice within whatever coalition it will be. If we have one voice on all major issues, and if we will conduct an inclusive policy, which would be based on support of big majority, vast majority of Ukrainians, it will be successful. If not, then whatever projects, ideas, advanced by the idealistic, very clever, very dedicated people are voiced at international conferences will be in vain. For that, we need to have ownership of foreign policy by the responsible and professional people in all political forces of Ukraine. We should concentrate on what unites them rather than what really distinguishes them on technical issues.
Mr. Kempe: So Ambassador Gryshchenko, I think what we watch for from your standpoint is not necessarily the specific policy, but the ability of president, prime minister, government, to work together after that.
Ambassador Tarasyuk, you have been foreign minister twice already. And so from your standpoint of this deep experience, you know you can’t achieve everything. So what, a year from now, would you put at the very top of the list to be measured by?
Mr. Tarasyuk: First of all, I would like to praise the ability of self-criticism demonstrated by Kostyantyn Gryshchenko. Second, I would like to say that the major priority –
Mr. Gryshchenko: That’s democracy; that’s what we do. (Laughter.) Self-criticism is good for everyone.
Mr. Tarasyuk: For Ukraine in the year to come, on the assumption that we complete the process of joining WTO, that is the successful negotiation on future agreement with European Union which has to be completed next year with the probable inclusion of the perspective of membership; and as a part of this agreement, the completion of negotiations on free-trade area.
The second thing, that is the beginning of the implementation of visa facilitation agreement. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: All politics being local here in Washington, the –
Mr. Tarasyuk: Can I give you just one more success story, that –
Mr. Kempe: Only because of the election outcome.
Say that again; say that again.
Mr. : All politicians – (inaudible) – about Ukraine-Russian relations within one year.
Mr. : It’s the topic for the next conference. (Laughter.)
Mr. Kempe: I think the audience would stay here for one more one-minute round, but I think you’d have to keep it very short. And here, let’s go for specifics again; again, let’s not make general statements. You know, we will be, you know, in a way you’ve already spoken about it. But Russian relations, Ukraine, one year and here because we’re really beyond time now, one sentence, one fact, that one accomplishment you would like one year from now with Russia.
Mr. Tarasyuk: The Russian-Ukrainian relations, it will be much healthier than they are now if there is a deliverable will be delivered, namely Boyka (ph) kicked out and Russia can argue with him. (Laughter.)
Mr. Kempe: Excellent. Ambassador Gryshchenko?
Mr. Gryshchenko: Yeah, and I understand Yulia Tymoshenko back into gersa (?) area, and everything will be fine. (Laughter.)
Mr. Tarasyuk: That’s a deliverable, it’s very concrete.
Mr. Nemyria: That’s excellent, I believe that will be the best possible solution. We’ve been through 1995 like that.
Anyway, let’s be serious. Serious, I believe that in one year time relations with Russia, if they are based on openness of Russian market to Ukrainian goods, ability for us to invest in Russia and to have ability to protect our rights and our citizens, not to be harassed in Moscow or other places like they are often are being harassed today, but less than many others because of special arrangements we still have there. If we can at the same time have an arrangement, which will be accepted by Russia and the EU in the energy area, meaning the complex approach to maximize benefits from our transit situation, from our major transit role; if that will be done through a political dialogue based on professional approach and protection of national interests, then I think it will be a major success. If we would lose either the role of a major transit country or access to Russia which provides the opportunity for Ukrainian economy to upgrade itself to the minimum-standard levels needed for EU, equal debate, then we will lose.
Mr. Kempe: Ambassador Tarasyuk, final word of this.
Mr. Tarasyuk: Our opponents are trying to blame democratic forces for spoiling the relationship with Russia, but I wonder if the trade to (nowhere ?) with Russia was increasing during President Yushchenko. Is it a positive sign? Yes, it is. So I do predict within one year, not well and very easy relationship with Russia, but without any dramatic overtures because Russia is answering its own – a period of internal instability; here, I mean the parliamentary and presidential elections. Thank you.
Mr. Kempe: This could open up another hour-and-a-half debate, but we won’t do that.
Before I thank these gentlemen for a very rich session, I just want to say that I don’t know about all of you in the audience, but I actually leave here more optimistic about Ukraine. When I was last in Kiev not so long ago, a quite important Russian businessman took me to dinner and said, I come to Kiev for a whiff of political freedom and debate, particularly in watching television, the free press, et cetera, et cetera. I was quite surprised by that coming from this gentleman, who I won’t name here.
But I think what one’s seen is, between the lines, not so much disagreement on foreign policy goals and directions. What one certainly feels is a need to speak with a voice, a single voice. I think that’s right, and one certainly needs a move to anchor more towards Europe. And it seems like you all agreed with the close strategic relationship with the United States, and a stable, good relationship with Russia, where you stand up for Ukrainian rights in that relationship.
So I come away optimistic about the debate; optimistic that the basic agreements and potential for agreements and direction are there, and really just asking myself whether all this exciting conversation will form, and move forward towards those relatively coherent and common goals.
Let me thank Walter Zaryckyj again; thank you so much for bringing us this opportunity and good luck with your own event in the next two days. I want to thank Jan Neutze from our team, from the trans-Atlantic relations program, who leads our Ukrainian work under Fran Burwell who runs the trans-Atlantic relations program; Adrian Karatnycky who is still here, has been an absolute wonderful addition to us as a non-resident senior fellow, has really brought a lot of expertise, knowledge here and made it capable for us to do this kind of work
; and a whole team of interns that helped put this together, including one from Ukraine, and we’re always going to try to keep someone here from there because we find that there’s a lot of motivation and skill and drive.
So at any rate, thank you so much for being here, and let me thank Ambassador Gryshchenko, Ambassador Tarasyuk and Mr. Nemyria, and we wish you all the best in the coming weeks and months.