For two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Ukraine has been dynamically evolving between the political axis of Europe and
Eurasia.Marking twenty years of this unique country’s independence and its
diplomatic relations with Norway, The Norwegian Institute of International
Affairs (NUPI) hosted a seminar focused on bilateral relations, foreign policy,
and European integration of Ukraine.
The speakers from both Ukraine and Norway elaborated on
how the relationship between the two countries has evolved during the past 20
years, and how it will be shaped in the future. Deputy Minister for Foreign
Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, was one of the esteemed speakers from
Klimkin, a career diplomat, has worked as the deputy head of
mission in the Ukrainian embassy in London and as director of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs’ EU department in Kiev, before being appointed Deputy Minister for
Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in April 2010.
After the four-hour seminar, Klimkin gave an exclusive
interview with The Nordic Page and answered all questions about Ukraine
from European integration to democratic reforms.
What does Norway mean
for Ukraine? What is the current level and future of cooperation between two
Norway actually means a lot to us. I am saying this not as a
formal statement. Norway has continuously provided very important assistance
for Ukraine in different areas from legislative reforms to the shutting
down of Chernobyl and elimination of landmines. All our projects with Norway
were quite successful. We had and have now a very positive political dialogue
and have structured a very effective diplomatic bridge between two countries.
We have economic cooperation and exhaustive potential to go. Recently, we have
been working on the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) agreement. From June
1 it will enter into force, and boost the investment and trade between our
The detention of
former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been called
“politically motivated” by some Norwegian politicians and Foreign
Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. How do you respond to these accusations and how does
it affect the good partnership and political atmosphere between the two
First of all, everyone in Ukraine is aware of the perception
of the court case against Tymoshenko. It has negative implications in
relationship with the EU and other countries. But this negative image
influences only the atmosphere not practical dimension of our relationships.
Secondly, I have to express that it is court decision, I
cannot comment on a court decision. The court sentenced her, not for the
conclusion of the gas agreements, but for violations that were carried out
during the negotiations.
The government cannot influence the court proceeding.
Nobody, even the former prime minister of Ukraine, can be taken out of the
juridical system. Everyone should be accountable for his or her actions. So,
the decision was not taken for her political activities, but rather from the
controversy surrounding an expensive natural-gas supply deal that Tymoshenko
signed with Russia.
Do you find the
criticism by Norwegian and other EU politicians offensive, then?
On the contrary, we welcome very much their concern to bring
forward the reforms in Ukraine. The precondition for the rule of law is the
clear division of powers and the decision of the court has not been finalized
competing pulls from Russia and the European Union, Ukraine has been looking to
the East, especially India and Pakistan, for collaboration in a large number of
areas including civil nuclear energy and other areas. Is it sign of a new
foreign policy era for Ukraine? If so, what will be the significance of
Europe in this new era?
Not at all! Our strategic priority is future membership in
EU. Because of that, we continue to negotiate. European integration is not just
a foreign policy priority but a comprehensive bunch of reforms we have to
implement in Ukraine. It is necessary for the development of our own country.
It is true that we have reached a considerable momentum with
Asian countries like China. We have high-level cooperation through our economic
projects. This is not about changing our
priority in foreign policy, but it is about making use of existing
opportunities and a natural result of globalized system.
Will Ukraine change
its attitude to Russia and Europe if EU membership does not happen?
Russia is a very important neighbor and strategic partner
for Ukraine and our relations are also key for European security. We always
believe that we have to act as responsible and predictable partners. So, we
have shown a considerable progress in the last two or three years. The high
level political contact and considerable amount of economic turnout between the
two countries are proof of this improvement. But still we have a number of
points to sort out like the famous Russian-Ukrainian gas contract.
In the aftermath of
the civil revolution movements in The Middle East, we remember that Ukraine was
a leading country in this area. How did the orange revolution change the
country? Did it meet the expectations of the Ukrainian people?
I personally believe that Orange Revolution was a
concentration of the Ukrainian people’s beliefs in a better future for Ukraine,
and it was a struggle for democracy and prosperity. The most problematic part
after the revolution was the lack of political commitments to reforms.
In the last several
years there has been some talk of Ukraine rising as a strong state on the
borders of Europe together with Turkey. What are the current perspectives after
the recent developments and economic crisis? Where do you see Ukraine after
another 20 years?
We see our future in European Union, and I believe in this
on the basis of Ukrainian history and mentality which is, in fact, European. We
should definitely become a member. It is the common public goal.
What does this
commitment provide for investors who are interested in Ukraine?
Ukraine has already great potential for investors and this
potential will be strengthened with the EFTA agreement. Ukraine will be
integrated into European economic and trade system with this agreement. That
will trigger an economic momentum for investors. Specifically, agriculture has
enormous potential, and our service sector due to our geography and experience
are all attractive areas for investment.
Photod: Vlad Archic | Dnipropetrovsk is Ukraine’s fourth largest city with one million inhabitants
Trade Volume between Norway and Ukraine:
In bln USD *State Statistical Service of Ukraine
Last high level visits between Norway and Ukraine:
Visit to Ukraine
of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway ?.Stoltenberg (February 1992);
Visit to Norway of
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
G.Udovenko (March 1996);
Visit to Ukraine of
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway T.Jagland (November 2000);
Visit to Norway of
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine K.Gryshchenko
Visit to Norway of
Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for Eurointegration O.Rybachuk (May June 2005);
Visit to Ukraine of
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway J.G.Støre
Visit to Ukraine
of Minister of Defence of Norway A.G.Strøm-Eriksen (September 2006)
acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine V.Handogiy with Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Norway J.G.Støre in Elsinor, Denmark (2009)
Meeting of Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine K.Gryshchenko with Minister of Trade and Idustry
of Norway T.Giske (June 2010, Reykjavik)
Visit to Norway
of Minister of Defence of Ukraine M.Yezhel (September 2011)
????? ?????? ?????????? | Swallow’s Nest (Crimea) is a decorative castle near Yalta on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine.
Facts About Ukraine:
History: Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic
state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and
most powerful state in Europe. Today’s modern Ukraine was established in 1991
with the dissolution of the USSR.
44,854,065 (July 2012 est.) Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%,
Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian
0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 census)
Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other (includes small Romanian-,
Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 9%
Ukrainian Orthodox – Kyiv Patriarchate 50.4%, Ukrainian Orthodox – Moscow
Patriarchate 26.1%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 8%, Ukrainian Autocephalous
Orthodox 7.2%, Roman Catholic 2.2%, Protestant 2.2%, Jewish 0.6%, other 3.2%
KYIV (capital) 2.779 million; Kharkiv 1.455 million; Dnipropetrovsk 1.013
million; Odesa 1.009 million; Donetsk 971,000 (2009)
GDP (purchasing power
$327.4 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
GDP – per capita
$7,200 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
GDP – composition by
services: 56.1% (2011 est.)
grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, vegetables; beef, milk
coal, electric power, ferrous and nonferrous metals,
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food processing
$60.67 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$52.19 billion (2010 est.)
ferrous and nonferrous metals, fuel and petroleum products,
chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, food products
Exports – partners:
Russia 24.1%, Turkey 5.9%, Italy 4.7% (2010)