Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable XII:
“Compelling Bilateral Ties/Poland-Ukraine & Turkey-Ukraine”
Europe Whole, Free and Prosperous as a Strategic Goal of Ukraine
Address by H.E. Olexander Motsyk, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the United States, delivered at Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: Compelling Bilateral Ties/Poland-Ukraine & Turkey-Ukraine, held in Washington DC on October 19, 2010.
Distinguished guests from Ukraine, Poland and Turkey!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today at the opening of the “Ukraine’s Quest” twelfth roundtable, successfully organized by the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations.
Each year the significance of this event is constantly growing. The best proof to that is its distinguished audience, which includes so many high level representatives, among them are very close friends of mine.
The conference has always addressed very interesting and relevant issues.
However, this year the topic of the roundtable is especially relevant to me.
I had the great honor and pleasure to serve as Ambassador of Ukraine to both countries, which will be in focus of our discussion today and tomorrow.
I highly appreciate the experience I gained during my diplomatic tenure, first, in Turkey and later on – in Poland.
Both these countries are good neighbors and true friends of Ukraine.
Poland and Turkey are Ukraine’s strategic partners.
Our peoples are closely connected by history, culture, traditions, by adherence to democracy and all the founding principles of modern European societies.
We have the same strategic goal – to live and work together in the united Europe, with our three states to become an integral part of a friendly, prosperous, democratic European family.
Poland and Turkey, just in a two week interval, officially recognized the independence of Ukraine, respectively, on December 2nd and December 16th, 1991.
But yet before proclamation of Ukraine’s state sovereignty, Kyiv (at that time Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) signed two very important political declarations with Poland and Turkey. These documents, in fact, determined a future course of Ukraine’s independent foreign policy with these countries.
I’m particularly glad to have been personally involved in preparing and carrying out negotiations on drafts of Declaration on Ukrainian-Polish relations dated October 13th, 1990, as well as Declaration on Ukrainian-Turkish relations dated March 13th, 1991.
I remember very well that night on March 13th, 1991, during a visit of Turkish President Turgut Özal to Ukraine, when we held very intensive talks with our Turkish counterparts to finalize basic provisions and to prepare the text of the Declaration for signing.
What was extremely important with this document is that five months before official proclamation of Ukraine’s independence, we managed to introduce to the text of the Ukrainian-Turkish Declaration an intention of the Ukrainian Side, and I quote, “to take direct and full-fledged part in the European process and European structures”.
I am also proud of the fact that the first draft of the Ukrainian-Polish Declaration, which was later negotiated with the delegation of Poland, I prepared myself in handwritten. In my personal archives I have original manuscript of the first draft text of the Declaration.
It was the year of 1990. The Soviet Union still existed. However, even at that time we included a provision saying that – “in accordance with the principle of national self-determination, Ukrainian and Polish peoples have an inalienable right in a complete freedom to determine their internal and external political status without interference from outside.”
Indeed, these were the first important steps towards creation of independent foreign policy of Ukraine. And they were closely related to Poland and Turkey.
After Ukraine’s state sovereignty was declared, Poland has become a key partner for Ukraine in Central and Eastern Europe as well as on the entire European continent, while Turkey – in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East region.
In early 1992 diplomatic relations of Kyiv with Warsaw and Ankara were established, and in May of that year basic treaties on friendship and cooperation were signed between Ukraine and Turkey and between Ukraine and Poland.
There were no political problems and territorial claims between our countries.
Our geopolitical interests coincided.
And, what was particularly important, our three countries pursued, among other things, the same strategic course towards membership in the European Union.
In twenty years, the Ukrainian-Polish and Ukrainian-Turkish relations have reached a level of sustainable strategic partnership.
Each of you present here is an expert on foreign policy and, obviously, will give your own assessment of the substance and quality of our relations.
On my part, I would like just to set a tone for our further discussion, by outlining certain aspects of current state and prospects of Ukraine’s cooperation with Turkey and Poland.
Let me start with the Republic of Turkey, which is the first country where I served as Ambassador of Ukraine.
Development of relations with Turkey, with its powerful potential, international prestige and capabilities, is undoubtedly one of the very important foreign policy priorities of Ukraine.
High dynamics of bilateral political dialogue has being maintained successfully.
This year in January the two countries established a fundamentally new mechanism of cooperation – Strategic High Level Council headed by the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Council’s first meeting is scheduled for November-December 2011.
In the framework of the Strategic High Level Council there has been formed a Strategic Planning Group, co-chaired by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Turkey.
These mechanisms are intended to further enrich the Ukrainian-Turkish strategic partnership with large-scale joint projects in such important fields as economy, energy, transport, defense industry, science and technology, aerospace, tourism etc.
Turkey is one of the most important trade partners of Ukraine; it is the second largest consumer of Ukrainian export goods.
Trade turnover between Ukraine and Turkey in 2010 amounted to over four billion US dollars.
The leadership of the two countries set objectives to bring the trade volume between Ukraine and Turkey, in a short term, to the level of 10 billion US dollars and ensure its growth up to 20 billion US dollars by the year of 2020.
Both countries agreed to commence in the nearest future negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement.
Turkish business has a longstanding experience of successful investment activity in Ukraine.
As of today, Turkish companies in Ukraine have implemented 128 major projects for more than 3 billion US dollars of investments.
Energy cooperation has become a key element of strategic partnership between Ukraine and Turkey. There is a significant potential to further enhance our cooperation, particularly, in diversifying of sources and routes of energy supplies, as well as in the field of nuclear energy.
Our both countries are located at the crossroad of key trade routes between North and South, East and West. Therefore, we attach significant importance to realization of our transit potential, exerting joint efforts also within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.
The strategic partnership between Ukraine and Turkey is seen as an important factor of security and stability in the Black Sea region.
In this respect our countries successfully cooperate within regional security mechanisms such as security and confidence-building measures in the naval field in the Black Sea, “BLACKSEAFOR” and “Black Sea Harmony Operation”, which substantially complements the international efforts to fight against terrorism, illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
Ukraine and Turkey are developing close cooperation in military and defense industry, in the field of science and technology, covering also the space industry.
These are only a few specific examples, but they confirm the importance and the strategic nature of Ukrainian-Turkish relations.
The future membership of our countries in the European Union will make our relationship even stronger.
While being Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey, I personally saw how huge is the potential and capabilities of this beautiful country, and how important it is for Europe.
I do believe that Turkey should one day become part of the European Union, because without Turkey, as well as without Ukraine, Europe will not be truly united.
2/ Now let me say a few words about Ukraine-Polish relations.
I still have fresh impressions of Poland, since just fourteen months ago, after serving a four-year term as Ambassador to this country. Sometimes I joke that I moved directly from Warsaw to Washington, following English alphabetic order.
For us, Ukrainians, Poland is the most vivid and close example of how to successfully integrate into European structures.
After all, we came out of one political bloc, and are very similar in terms of size of the territory, potential, favorable geostrategic location, economic resources, in particular, agricultural potential.
Poland has passed successfully a respectful and noteworthy road of transformation from the socialist-type country to a highly developed democratic European state.
The success story of Poland in Europe – is a strong evidence for Ukrainians, that if we do strive for and consolidate our efforts, like our Polish friends, we can also achieve our own “European dream”.
Relations between Ukraine and Poland have a solid and reliable basis. Ukrainians and Poles are linked by common history, similarities of languages, cultures and mentality, countless people to people contacts, and family ties.
The tradition of our mutual support stems from the well-known idea of Jerzy Giedroyc: “there cannot be an independent Poland without an independent Ukraine, and there cannot be an independent Ukraine without an independent Poland”.
I cannot but mention also Bohdan Osadchuk, who passed away today. Bohdan Osadchuk was a devoted friend and partner of Jerzy Giedroyc. Together they contributed much to the strengthening of friendly ties between Ukrainian and Polish nations.
Poland became the first country to recognize Ukraine as an independent state. We will always remember this generous gesture of the Polish nation.
In 1994 both countries declared their strategic partnership.
Today we are fully confident that the strategic partnership between Ukraine and Poland is not simply words on paper. It has concrete and very important substance in all areas – from political and economic to humanitarian fields.
After Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Poland became a staunch ally of Ukraine among EU member states.
Warsaw actively advocates Ukraine’s interests in Brussels. Together with Sweden Poland launched an initiative called “Eastern Partnership”, which is aimed, in particular, at bringing Ukraine closer to the EU.
Given the high level of support rendered by Poland to the European course of Ukraine, it is not by surprise that during Polish EU presidency Ukraine now has a real chance to achieve substantial progress in abolishing visa regime between Ukraine and the EU, as well as to sign Association and Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
I would like to stress that these are mutually beneficial steps both for Ukraine and the EU. And I sincerely believe that we will make our joint efforts to sign Association and Free Trade Agreement by the end of this year.
Poland is the fourth biggest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, with over 5 billion US dollars trade turnover.
Setting an example of close military cooperation both countries established a joint battalion, which served in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. Now Kyiv works together with Warsaw and Vilnius to establish a joint multinational brigade of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.
Together with our Polish friends we work to ensure participation of Ukrainian Armed Forces units in one of the EU Tactical Battle Groups.
After passing through very complex history, Ukrainians and Poles learned perfectly well how important are their mutual friendship and good-neighborly relations, and therefore they successfully carry out the process of historic reconciliation.
In February 2011 the Ukrainian-Polish Partnership Forum was established to discuss the most sensitive issues and produce joint balanced assessment of the historical past. And I’m glad to welcome here at this conference the Polish Co-chair of the Forum – Minister Onyszkiewicz.
Several years ago, Ukraine and Poland had a dream: to co-host the European Football Championship “Euro-2012”, but only a few people believed it could be achievable. Nevertheless, this dream became true. This so far the largest joint Ukrainian-Polish project is now a reality. And I am convinced that the example of “Euro-2012” will demonstrate the ability of our nations to work effectively as one European team.
For the past twenty years, Ukrainian-Polish relations have become a powerful factor that significantly contributes to Ukraine’s European integration course.
The strategic partnership between Ukraine and Poland is also a very important factor of peace, stability and security in the region and entire Europe.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am sure that Ukraine’s European choice has no alternative.
All political forces in Ukraine – both from the current coalition and opposition – support European course of our country.
More than 65 percent of Ukrainians are in favor of EU membership for Ukraine.
Last year the President and the Government of Ukraine have started implementing long-awaited systemic reforms. Their goal is to modernize the country and harmonize every sector of the Ukrainian state with the European standards.
The European choice is supposed to consolidate the Ukrainian nation and become a key driving force behind the further progress of the Ukrainian state.
I am certain that Ukraine’s accession to the EU will create a win-win situation, a mutually beneficial one for both sides.
With Ukraine, having a great potential in various fields, the European Union will definitely enhance its capabilities to become even more successful global player.
I sincerely believe that by working closely with Poland and Turkey and other European partners, in the foreseeable future we will achieve our joint success – a truly united Europe, in which Ukraine and Turkey, together with Poland, will be an integral part of the friendly, prosperous and democratic European family.
In conclusion, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations and to all those, who took part in preparation of this very important roundtable.
I wish all present here a fruitful and constructive discussion.
Thank you for your attention!