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14 April 2000
Transcript: U.S., Ukrainian Foreign Ministers Press Availability
(Economic reform, Kharkiv Initiative, KFOR/peacekeeping, trafficking,
START II, ABM Treaty, Chernobyl) (2,740)
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Ukrainian Foreign
Minister Boris Tarasyuk held a press availability in Kiev, Ukraine
Following is the State Department transcript of the press
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Minister Boris Tarasyuk: Press Availability
April 14, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Foreign Minister Tarasyuk [unofficial translation]: Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen. I am glad to have this opportunity to welcome
you on the occasion of the visit by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright. This is the Secretary’s second visit to Ukraine. The first
one, as you remember, took place in March 1998.
During this visit, the key event in the schedule of the Secretary’s
stay in Ukraine was her meeting with the President of Ukraine, Leonid
Kuchma, which has just been completed. This was a very important
meeting both in terms of its length and in terms of its contents. The
Secretary also had a meeting with Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko.
And negotiations between the two delegations took place in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The visit itself, the atmosphere that surrounded this visit, the
negotiations and their content confirm that a strategic partnership
exists between Ukraine and the United States.
I will just list the topics that were on the agenda of our meetings:
specifically, the Secretary’s meetings with the President, with the
Prime Minister, and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They included
the issue of a future visit to Ukraine by the President of the United
States. Madeleine Albright received President Kuchma’s letter to
President Clinton on Ukraine’s proposal to hold a UN Security Council
summit. The issue of the next session of the Ukrainian-American
Binational Commission was discussed, the issue of cooperation with the
International Monetary Fund, the long-term legislative basis for
bilateral relations. Questions were discussed such as the status of a
normal trade partner.
The Kharkiv Initiative, compensation for the victims of Nazism,
cooperation in Kosovo, and in particular, Ukraine’s participation in
KFOR and U.S. assistance. We discussed the issue of cooperation in the
United Nations Security Council, the issue of the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant, OSCE, the World Trade Organization, Ukraine’s cooperation
with the European Union, reform of the energy sector, and, in this
context, the Ukrainian route for Caspian oil.
Generally, one can say that in every one of those topics we achieved
mutual understanding. The strategic partnership between Ukraine and
the U.S. is confirmed. The Secretary of State expressed support for
the course of reforms conducted by the President and the government of
our country. She showed understanding for the unique situation Ukraine
currently finds itself in.
In general, I can state without exaggeration that the visit was
Secretary Albright: Thank you very much. Dobriy vechir and I want to
begin by thanking you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for your hospitality and
for joining me in what has been a very productive series of meetings
On every visit to this city, previously as a private citizen and also
on the visit that the Foreign Minister spoke about, I am reminded
always that this is one of the loveliest capitals in Europe. “Vesna v
Kiyive prikrasna.” [Springtime in Kiev is beautiful.]
It’s true that spring is nature’s season of renewal. And from what I
heard today, this is shaping up as a season of renewal in Ukraine’s
political life, as well.
In last winter’s presidential elections, the Ukrainian people made it
clear that they want to move forward with essential reforms, and not
slide backward towards a Communist past.
And President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yushchenko clearly recognize
that now is the time to attack old problems such as energy reform with
a new vigor.
The United States strongly supports the economic reform policies of
President Kuchma and the Prime Minister. The success of reform here is
crucial for Ukraine’s ability to create a prosperous future for its
We talked today about the next steps in the reform process, and we
look toward continuing that discussion when Prime Minister Yushchenko
visits Washington next month.
Internationally, Ukraine has already proven the worth of its
distinctive partnership with NATO, and so I am pleased to announce
that the United States, with the support of our allies in Europe, will
help fund Ukraine’s continued participation in KFOR as part of the
Polish-Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion.
The Ukrainian government has also been an essential partner in the
effort to halt the trafficking of women and children, and we look
forward to a conference that our two governments plan to co-host on
trafficking in June here in Kiev. We will be bringing together law
enforcement officials and NGOs from several countries to increase
cooperation in prosecuting trafficking cases and protecting the
Ukraine is also moving closer toward a goal shared by the people of
Ukraine, Europe and America — and that is closing Chernobyl this
year. The United States and our G-7 partners will continue to support
reforms needed to help make that happen.
Chernobyl was a dark stain in the bleak history of the Soviet era.
But even darker crimes were perpetrated under Stalin, and earlier
today I laid a wreath at the Memorial to the Victims of the Great
This was for me an emotional moment. My family was fortunate enough to
escape Communism. Millions of Ukrainian children, women and men were
not so lucky, and I know from talking to the Foreign Minister, members
of his own family were tragically affected by this. These people died
in the great forced famine — not because of anything they had done,
or even because there was no food, but simply because they were in the
No one who visits such a memorial can forget it. And no one who
considers its meaning can fail to understand why the Ukrainian people
have made it clear that they will never go back to a system in which
the state has every freedom and the people have none.
Ukraine’s difficult past ensures that the way ahead will not be easy.
But the United States will help Ukraine’s reformers in every way. And
because America wants for Ukraine what Ukraine wants for itself: a
stable, prosperous, independent and democratic future, firmly anchored
in Euro-Atlantic institutions. We have had excellent meetings as the
Foreign Minister described. I think our time has been very well spent
and I am very glad to have been here again.
My good friend, Boris, thank you.
Question: I have a question to Minister Tarasyuk. Can we expect
intensification of the American activities in Kharkiv Initiative as a
result of today’s discussion of this issue? And, if possible, your
comment on ratification of the ABM and START treaties by the Russian
Foreign Minister Tarasyuk [unofficial translation]: Thank you.
Concerning the Kharkiv Initiative. This initiative was a subject of
our discussion. In the course of this discussion, we agreed to devote
more attention from both sides to the realization of this initiative
— from the Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In this connection, the Secretary and I appointed the officers
responsible for the realization of the Kharkiv Initiative.
As to the ratification by the Russian State Duma of the START II
treaty, all of us here in Ukraine welcome this move of the Russian
State Duma. This is a very important step that will undoubtedly, as a
result of implementation of this treaty’s provisions, lead to a more
secure world and to the reduction of the nuclear threat.
Question: Could Secretary Albright also comment on the ratification of
START by the Russian Duma?
Secretary Albright: I will, I will, I will. Let me just say that since
the inception of the Kharkiv Initiative in 1998, we have undertaken a
number of activities to foster diversified economic development and
promote trade and investment in the region and they include the
appointment of a senior American advisor who is now in Kharkiv to
trade in energy-related conferences and the delivery of approximately
$18 million in medicines and medical equipment to hospitals in the
region. There are also ongoing programs for training and mentoring
entrepreneurs in the region, as well as efforts to assist in small and
medium enterprise development, and a variety of educational exchange
programs also are contributing to fulfilling some of the Initiative.
But I think that the Kharkiv Initiative was just one of the benefits
Ukraine received from foregoing nuclear cooperation with Iran. The
others were the 123 agreement on nuclear cooperation, the first we
signed with a former Soviet republic, a $40 million nuclear fuel
qualification program which will allow Ukraine to diversify its
sources for nuclear fuel, increased funding totaling to date $7
million for Ukrainian scientists through the Science and Technology
Center in Ukraine, and membership in the missile technology control
regime, a U.S.-Ukraine rocket technology safeguard agreement, and a
memorandum of understanding on space cooperation. So there have been
benefits, but as the Foreign Minister said, we are going to work more
intensively on this, and Ambassador Pifer will be working with an
individual named by the Foreign Ministry.
On the Duma ratification. I understand that we haven’t seen some of
the amendments that have come along with it but I do think that it is
a very important step and it should allow for an intensification of
our discussions with the Russians and Foreign Minister Ivanov will be
coming to Washington next month and we will be able to confer and talk
further on how to intensify those arms control discussions.
Question: Madam Secretary, you alluded to the amendment which has been
included to the START II vote in Moscow, and one of them was that the
Russian side can now withdraw from START if the United States
withdraws from the ABM treaty and President-Elect Putin also said that
the ball was now firmly in the U.S. court. How do you assess the
prospect for dialogue given those facts.
Secretary Albright: Well, first of all, I think we have made very
clear the importance of the ABM treaty. That is something we believe
and our discussions with the Russians have been not about withdrawing
but about adjusting the treaty which has been done before in order to
accommodate the possibility, because there has been no decision made
on deployment on NMD, so I think that when I was in Russia I spoke
about the importance of the ABM treaty with then acting President
Putin myself and it is always a part of our discussion. And as I said
maybe the ball is going back and forth and Foreign Minister Ivanov and
I will hit it back and forth when he comes.
Question: Mrs. Albright, when you said the commitment of President
Kuchma to shut down Chernobyl by the end of the year, and will
Washington give money for Rivne and Khmelnytsky to replace Chernobyl,
and definitely will the United States support Ukraine in the talks
with the IMF? Thank you.
Secretary Albright: We did talk about Chernobyl and President Kuchma
reaffirmed that it would be closed which I consider very important and
the United States and other countries will obviously be helpful. I
think it would be very useful to have a date for when that would be
done, but President Kuchma said that he had appointed a commission
that is working with the Prime Minister on this subject and that that
commission will help to fix the date. We obviously did talk about the
IMF and we strongly support Ukraine’s work with the IMF. The Central
Bank audit is very important and it has been noted by them and by us
that there is excellent cooperation and that transparency is the word
of the day and a very important concept that is evident. We believe
that robust economic reforms are really a key to moving this whole
process forward and they need to take place in the areas of budget,
tax, privatization, agriculture, and the energy sector. I was very
impressed by President Kuchma’s dedication to this process and his
desire to move the reform process forward and by the work that the
Prime Minister is undertaking. The Rada also must play a constructive
role — has already and needs to do more — and I think the stronger
the reform program, the stronger will our support be for the work that
is going on here and the IMF.
Question: Madame Secretary, one more clarification question concerning
Chernobyl and your [inaudible] plan. I know that in the past Ukrainian
officials have made it clear that they would only be able to close the
plant if significant Western financial assistance is provided to build
two replacement nuclear reactors. Have you specifically discussed this
prospect and mainly the U.S. plan if such plans exist to finance the
Secretary Albright: We have made it quite clear that we will help
substantially as will other members of the G-7 because we consider
this important, but it is essential for a date to be fixed because
we’re hoping that there will be pledging conferences. I think
everybody understands this is a very important responsibility that we
all share and we are prepared to help and we did talk about it and I
was heartened by the fact that President Kuchma reaffirmed the closing
and that he has named a group commission to study exactly the date and
to have it done. I think I made quite clear that it would be very
useful to have a date set.
Question: Mrs. Albright, is there a connection of your visit and the
future visit of President Putin in Kiev?
Secretary Albright: No.
Question: How do you assess the situation of freedom of expression in
Ukraine after the recent incident with an American journalist not
being admitted into the country?
Secretary Albright: Let me say that we were obviously concerned about
that case and glad that it has been resolved but I did mention both to
the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister the importance of freedom
of the press and the fact that it is central to the functioning of a
Question: I have a question to Madame Albright and another one for Mr.
Mrs. Albright, your first comment on the ratification of START by the
Russian Duma was more emotional than what you have just said. What is
the cause for this caution on your part? You had called it a historic
step, you congratulated the Russian people, but now you have been more
cautious. What is the reason? And a question to Mr. Tarasyuk. What was
concretely discussed when you talked about American-Ukrainian
cooperation in the United Nations Security Council? What will be the
particular steps in such cooperation?
Secretary Albright: I in no way meant to be less emotional or moved or
finding it historic. I think that we have waited a long time for the
Duma to ratify START II. It is an important step. I think the only
issue for all of us is to study the amendments that came along with
it. But, I do think that we have waited a long time and the
ratification is an important step in what is I think the central
activity of our time, which is trying to deal with the remnants of the
Cold War and dealing with the very important subject of lowering
numbers in nuclear arms and the general discussion that we have to
have on nuclear arms reduction across the board.
Foreign Minister Tarasyuk [unofficial translation]: With Secretary
Madeleine Albright we talked about cooperation in the United Nations
Security Council. In particular, such issues were discussed as the
Ukrainian initiative to hold a UNSC summit in the framework of the
Millenium Summit that will take place in September this year in New
York. We also discussed the issue of reform of the UNSC. We exchanged
views on the important and sensitive matter of enforcing UN sanctions.
In this context, we discussed our cooperation in Kosovo, as well as
fulfillment in this context of the UNSC resolution 1243.