THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
OF THE UNITED STATES
WELCOME AND MODERATOR:
VICE PRESIDENT, DIRECTOR OF TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS AND STUDIES, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
FORMER DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER,
FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER, UKRAINE;
CHAIRMAN, UKRAINE PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON INTEGRATION
FORMER AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES,
TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010
Federal News Service
FRAN BURWELL: Good. First off, thank you all for your patience. We have at least part of our delegation now who has finally surmounted the challenges of traffic coming into Washington, D.C.
So I’m Fran Burwell. I’m a vice president here at the council and with me is Valeriy Chaly, former deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, and we will shortly we hope be joined by Borys Tarasyuk and Yuri Scherbak, who are about 10 minutes behind I am told, but still dealing with traffic issues.
It is a real pleasure to welcome them. I think of them as leaders in building a democratic Ukraine but also I think all of you were part of the U.S.-Ukraine policy dialogue that we did a few years ago on foreign policy in conjunction with the U.S. Ukraine Foundation and so most of you have been here before and participated in discussions in various other identities here.
It’s a particularly good moment to have this discussion about Ukraine and what has been happening following the election of Viktor Yanukovych in February. That election was closely observed and seen as free and fair and I think of that as a true legacy of the Orange Revolution and yet the president who was the inheritor of the Orange Revolution, who led the country through the Orange Revolution, polled only 5 percent.
And I think we have to ask ourselves what happened. But also since the new government has come into power, we’re all struggling to understand the implications of the policy changes that have been announced.
I went over the ACUS – the Atlantic Council – website and our blog and I looked at the titles of different blog posts about Ukraine and they were things like this: “Ukraine is Not Yet Lost”; “A European State with Friendly Ties to Russia”; “The Specter of Finlandization”; “Fear and Loathing on the Post-campaign Trail”; “Ukraine to Build Up Cooperation with NATO to Reform Armed Forces”, immediately followed by “Russia and Ukraine Sign Protocol Resuming Russian Intelligence Presence in Crimea”; and finally, “The End of Ukraine and the Future of Eurasia”.
So I think we have to ask ourselves are these hyperbole, is this just because our managing editor of the blog has a sense of headlines or is there something there and to get us stated, what I’m going to do given the absences of our two is we’ll start with Valeriy Chaly and I think you all probably know the others but I will just give a few points of their bios in their absence so that we can segue easily to them when they do arrive
But let me start here with Valeriy, who was director of international – is now director of international programs at the Razumkov Centre, one of the leading think tanks in Ukraine since May 2010. But when we first met, that was your identity too I believe, at least the Razumkov Centre, and in between he worked as a consultant on foreign relations committee of the Rada and as deputy foreign minister of Ukraine. He also is a professor on the faculty.
And Borys Tarasyuk is chairman of the Ukraine Parliamentary Commission on Integration and a former foreign minister of Ukraine. He also served as ambassador in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the Ukraine representative to NATO. He has served as foreign minister actually twice and of course one of the things that’s close to our heart is that he is the founder of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, which is sort of a sister organization of the Atlantic Council.
And then Yuri Scherbak is the former ambassador of Ukraine to the United States from 1994 to ’98 and one of the leading environmentalists in Ukraine. So Valeriy, with that, I am going to turn it over to you.
VALERIY CHALY: Thank you, Dr. Burwell. I am very happy to be there because it’s really a partnership organization for Razumkov Centre for many years and definitely we understand that going from Philadelphia to Washington, it is not enough to know direction. Sometimes it’s important to have good road facilities and it’s the same case with Ukraine.
We definitely know direction and definitely, it’s roads and the ground. It’s the basis on our national interests, so know any chance from my opinion to change the direction, European integration, but definitely how many years we spent for that situation and I think it’s my friends now in the distance it shows also that Ukraine needs new regime, so much younger.
So I think these new politicians tried to propose some alternative on how we achieve the results, not as we did it before.
You’re right, and now we are in a very specific situation because of the changes of regime and my position is Yanukovych came to power democratically and it’s also result of Orange Revolution and five years of developments in Ukraine. So I’m personally against that strategy or tactics.
It’s my decision – (inaudible) – was because of changes of foreign policy priorities but it doesn’t mean that I am against Yanukovych because he is the president. That’s why important to see on the substance, which substance in the foreign policy. After the election Viktor Yanukovych formation of coalition of political forces developments in the Ukraine acquired new traits.
The president has made a number of indicative statements regarding the foreign security policy priorities confined to deep integration with Russia. Sometimes it seems like real integration, not only cooperation and nonaligned status for the country, nonaligned I don’t know what nonaligned – you, according to international law, according to – we, in our basis that’s proposed now to the parliament we have a nonaligned and non-bloc, nonaligned, that discussion.
That’s strange because under that proposition, know the substance, no alternative. It’s only declaration and it’s only goal to achieve, to not have in our legislative the role of NATO not more and refusal from fully fledged integration into NATO as a result of these changes. I think now it seems not like a completely change of priority for the years but definitely is new vision of tactics.
The problem not with the president can take these new tactics. The problem this has taken for the decades for the strategy, for tactic reasons. For example, significant example, the Black Sea fleet agreement with Russia. Okay, you can agree, you can do according to the Ukraine’s laws but you can’t as the president come to the – (inaudible) – in five years or even 10 years decide about the decades, 25 or 32 years for the future.
The new – (inaudible) – beyond doubt included rapid building of the executive hierarchy. Meanwhile, their first hundred days became a serious test for the young Ukrainian democracy.
The massive work of the new authorities’ size of inclination to the Russian model of controlled democracy. Now I just read the conclusion by the expert community and group of think-tanks that is a part of civil society also try to solidify the situation because it’s not clear yet what will the substance of this declaration.
President Yanukovych proposed and addressed to the people with new program of reform prepared by Mackenzie (ph) and pretty good. If they shift even 10 percent, it will be very good for reform in Ukraine but the problem that now government doing another way. I mean, government including Yanukovych. So it’s not a proposition of reform.
Now it’s a proposed once again declaration and I am afraid as we go once again to the same situation that we are after 2004 to make many declaration by the president, 8Yushchenko, the prime minister, Tymoshenko and no achieve real reform, any reform.
Yes, we have freedom of media. We have the political competition but it doesn’t mean that we achieve reform that we’re ready to define and defend now. That’s the problem and once again it’s a beginning of the – it’s a déjà vu process. The final of this process is the frustration, the people’s frustration of the (party ?). That’s why now it’s important to us in civil society and political party opposition to push the government to implement all the declarations and the programs.
What we have to do – I think it’s a great mistake that we are now changing our multilateral foreign policy for only one region, Russia. It doesn’t mean that I am opposed developing new relation with Russia and deepen this relation because I think it’s natural because Russia is a strategic partner and I will speak about European integration.
I think it’s almost impossible to achieve result without good relationship with Russia, in the economic sphere, energy sphere. But it doesn’t mean that we have to be in the control sphere or buffer zone between two military blocs, between two economic, political integration systems. That’s the problem for Ukraine is a deficit of security and non-bloc status does not propose any decision about that.
Meanwhile, Ukraine still remains open for the Eastern influences and unfortunately EU, Europe now more concentrated for internal problems, they’re very huge problems and also Ukraine in the economic and finance crisis. It’s one of the reasons why we changed regime because very difficult social situation and people waiting for their best condition, living conditions.
I think what we have to do, I also not only expert but also try to be a part of the new political vision as part of the government of change by – (inaudible) – and we prepared alternative decision, we prepared the draft of laws, we tried to lobby that to achieve the results. But in any case, first six months, it’s honeymoon for any president, Kuchma, Yushchenko, including Yanukovych.
After that we will have the very important local election and parliamentary election in 2012. It’s very important to have majority, once again democratic majority that influences the situation. Definitely we have very need of the broad engagement of United States, of our Western partners because not the governmental, direct governmental course is needed.
So I propose you to be engaged more in the broader context to our relationship and internal Ukraine situation to help us to keep the situation for the future and not go from the way on European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you very much and I think what we have done, gentlemen, is I have already introduced the two of you in your absence. So I hope you don’t mind. But I thought we’d use the time to get through those formalities. We are very pleased to see that you’ve finally surmounted our traffic obstacles and Valeriy Chaly has rightly set us off on a good path here.
But I’d like to just go ahead and move forward, perhaps with you Minister Tarasyuk to go on and continue our discussion and let me just say that of what we had talked about in the very intro was how did we get to this point of the previous government going down in flames so disastrously in the election to have Yanukovych come in, are the dire headlines that some people have put forward about Ukraine justified and is in the long term this a significant change and what is to be done and with that I will turn it over to you Minster Tarasyuk.
BORYS TARASYUK: Thank you. Hello to everybody. Sorry for being late and I would like to express my gratitude to the Atlantic Council for organizing this meeting where I have the pleasure to meet many friends of mine. Well, in order to continue, one has to know what to continue. So it’s not that easy for me to continue. So you suggested to talk mainly on the internal issues.
MS. BURWELL: But also the foreign policy and Valeriy –
MR. CHALY: The broader context of security.
MS. BURWELL: Yes, and he has put forward a different I think between legitimacy of the current government versus whether one agrees with their policies or not and has also talked about the non-bloc status not having much substance, the need for good relations with Russia but perhaps addressing Ukraine’s security deficit as well.
So those are some of the issues that have come up in the very first remarks, along with a sense of frustration among the Ukrainian people. I think that’s probably a way to characterize it.
MR. TARASYUK: Well, let me say a few words. My vision of what has taken place in Ukraine’s internal and external policy and what can we expect. From my point of view, we are facing fundamental changes in our internal and external policy. Since the changes in the internal policy are not probably the subject of interest to the people here, I would like to concentrate mainly on the fundamental changes in the foreign policy.
I have no doubt that Valeriy Chaly have already dwelt on these changes. One of the most fundamental shifts in the foreign policy the current authorities have done, this is the removal from Ukrainian legislation such fundamental foreign policy objective as NATO membership. Well, the non-bloc status is nothing but rhetoric as the whole draft law on fundamental Ukraine’s internal and external policy, which was approved in the first reading recently.
Currently the document is in Verkhovna Rada and myself as a member of the parliament, I have introduced a number of amendments in order to try to do my best to change this shift which has been suggested in this document by the current authorities. To my mind, this shift in Ukraine’s foreign policy has taken place first time in almost 19 years since the independence.
You probably remember that since the very beginning, even before the independence, Ukraine has taken the definite strategic objective to join the existing Euro-Atlantic security system that is NATO and Yanukovych and his government under Kuchma back in 2003 had approved a law on the fundamentals of national security, which provisioned NATO and EU membership. Currently, they are making an attempt to reconsider this foreign policy course.
To speak about so-called non-bloc status, which has no definition in the international law, probably they are talking about nonalignment or neutrality status, so and it seems to me that they have not calculated at what expense this foreign policy shift will be for Ukraine because they were just implementing the instructions from the Kremlin.
So what is the price for this shift? Let me bring to your attention the figures of the defense expenditures in some neutral countries: in Austria, $330 per person; in neutral Switzerland, $500 per person; in neutral Sweden, $600 per person. Can you imagine what is the figure for Ukraine currently? Twenty-five dollars per person. These are the real defense expenditures. So is it possible for Ukraine, being a so-called non-bloc country or neutral country to sustain, to meet the possible challenges in the defense area?
I personally have serious doubts that it is possible and if want to speak about non-bloc status, someone has to put the question. So if the current authorities are keeping the EU membership as the foreign policy objective, so how can one speak about Ukraine as a possible EU member state with the non-bloc status, so-called non-bloc status, come up with the common foreign and security policy of the European Union or the European defense and the security policy?
So these are obviously contradictions and how these authorities will deal with these contradictions. Another issue which I would like to dwell on, I’m sure that Valeriy have covered this issue that is Russia.
To my mind, Ukraine is moving towards the proxy of Russia, while losing its ability to be the subject of international relations and becoming the object of international relations. So clearly Ukraine had its own foreign policy face before in many years.
Now it looks like Ukraine is going to be in the shadow of Russian foreign policy and to service Russian foreign policy ends. To my mind, this will lead to the distancing Ukraine from the democratic countries united in and around NATO and the European Union and will make Ukraine bound to the Russian foreign policy.
This will definitely weaken the positions of a democratic – or democratically minded countries of the former Soviet Union united in GUAM grouping and it will definitely consolidate the positions of Russia and will add to its aggressiveness in its policy and Ukraine may happen to be at the part of this policy of Russia.
I think that in addition to this, we have to add the economic expansion Russia is demonstrating recently with the emergence of new authorities and we may expect the increasing monopolies of Russia at the expense of Ukraine, having the access to the control over gas transportation system of Ukraine and internal gas market of Ukraine.
So and thus it will increase and consolidate the powers of Russia to intimidate united Europe at the expense of the complete monopolies over gas supply from Russia and Central Asia to united Europe. So I will stop on this. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you very much. Ambassador Scherbak, a few remarks before we go to some discussion?
YURI SCHERBAK: Yeah, thank you very much. First of all, I’d like to appreciate our presenting here and I’d like to say that I represent here the public committee for the defense of Ukraine’s great dismay. The committee is composed of the intellectual elite of Ukraine, well-known representatives of civil society and youth movement and of several political parties. The committee already has 22 regional and town organizations and more than 40,000 registered individual supporters.
I’d like to say that now for me the situation in Ukraine after the 100 days of Yanukovych presidency resembles the period of the Brezhnev Doctrine, of the so-called limited sovereignty of socialist states. The difference is that today, the United States and the EU, in our opinion, have neither political will nor resources to offer resistance to the process of Ukraine losing its sovereignty. This is very serious our feeling.
We repeatedly hear these days another word from the civil war dictionary and that is Finlandization, the term referring to Russian attempts of limiting the foreign policy independence and democratic development of its neighboring countries. Moscow aims to impose the rules of satellite on Ukraine with – role of satellite of Ukraine with the consequences of Russia automatically becoming a new empire, according to the famous Mr. Brzezinski’s formula.
And I’d like to conclude this very interesting maybe (assertion ?) that now I must do now, this yes – Ukrainian and some foreign politicians and experts conclude that the United States, due to the – (inaudible) – and priority of their interest in Iraq and Afghanistan has surrendered Ukraine to Moscow. Russian analysts write about this with great pleasure.
One such expert who is known for voicing Kremlin thought wrote, I quote, “It is quite obvious that Medvedev has staked on the support of Obama, who is performing poorly in domestic and foreign policy. For today, the new project of strategic arm treaty is the only Obama achievement in foreign policy and he must realize that well, himself in response to this Obama has obviously agreed to make certain concessions to Russia in the post-Soviet space.
The position of the Democrat’s administration on Ukraine and the actual surrender of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko have shown that Obama is ready to go quite far in taking away the main achievements of Republicans gained under George W. Bush. Yushchenko, Saakashvili and Bakiyev were all creation of Republicans and because this is so, nobody is for Obama. Bakiyev and Yushchenko have already failed.” Thank you very much. This is end of court.
MS. BURWELL: Well, thank you very much. I think as the chair, it’s kind of difficult for me to comment on the political left or right but I would like to invite comments and questions from the floor, starting with Dr. Brzezinski. Did I see your hand up? And we have a microphone coming.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much. I’m glad to have the first crack because unfortunately I have to leave because I had an original lunch planned at the time when we were supposed to be ending. So I apologize.
All of you described a potentially fundamental change in the status of Ukraine and to some extent by implication there was also the suggestion made that perhaps the United States is not sufficiently responsive to the implications of that potential change.
So I would like to ask you in that context, ass three of you, since it has been stressed at the very beginning of this session that Yanukovych won democratically and that Ukraine is a democracy, what is the basic attitude of, first of all, the Ukrainian elite, secondly the Ukrainian youth, and thirdly, more generally, one can generalize to what you have been describing because it does seem to me that ultimately the responsibility for preserving the independence of any country starts with the people of that country and the preservation of Ukrainian independence cannot start with either the United States being more interested in that independence than the Ukrainians or of the EU even more so.
So what is your analysis of the basic internal attitude of the Ukrainians? I have an origin from Central Europe, as many of you presumably know. I can’t imagine something like this developing in Poland simply because the priority of independence is so strongly felt by the people involved and that’s true of the others, some of the smaller countries, the Estonians, Lithuanians and so forth.
What is the basic attitude of the Ukrainian elites and others? One gets the impression that essentially we’re dealing with a passive country in which two alternative elites are struggling for power and over alternative international concepts. But what about the underlying sociopolitical base?
MS. BURWELL: Thank you very much and if I could turn to Minister Tarasyuk, I would also point out that President Yanukovych’s policies, although perhaps not specific policies but the direction in which he would lean, was known when people voted for him. So they had an opportunity to speak on this question and where do they stand now?
MR. TARASYUK: Thank you. Thank you, Zbigniew, for your question. I’m glad that I have a chance to see you and to listen to your observations. About Yanukovych being elected democratically, I do not agree with this assertion. Why so?
Yanukovych is the first president of independent Ukraine who was elected by less than 50 percent of Ukrainians during the second round. Second, Yanukovych is the first president in Ukraine who was supported by one-third of Ukrainian electorate. So his base is very, very narrow base of support in the society.
About the democratic nature of his election, let me remind you that the opposition had enough evidences of falsification but the administrative court did not listen to the arguments of the opposition and I was surprised at the reaction from Washington, from Brussels and some other capitals who were quick enough and it looked like the leaders of those countries were competing between themselves.
Who will be the first to congratulate Yanukovych? It was very strange to see because in 2004, here in Washington and some major European capitals, everybody were accusing Russians of partiality, of congratulating by putting Yanukovych on the elections in 2004, which was not the case. Now the picture was absolutely different.
The United States and the American leaders were congratulating Yanukovych even before the official announcement of the results of the elections whereas Russians this time, Medvedev have congratulated him only after the official announcement. So they learned the lesson.
About the reaction of the elite, from the figures I brought to your attention, one-third of all Ukrainian electorate supported Yanukovych. One may make a conclusion that the political elite in its majority doesn’t support Yanukovych. Youth, as well, probably his major electorate support is, again, in those parts of Ukraine which are well known, east and south of Ukraine.
I presume that the real attitude of Yanukovych and his team will be seen and visible only with some time passing. To my mind, this will begin in autumn, this autumn. Only this autumn will have enough experience for the people to verify whether they were misled, whether the promises of – pre-election promises of Yanukovych and the team were empty wrappings and then we may expect the serious manifestation of the discontent.
I cannot predict in what form this discontent will be manifested. I do not predict a repetition of Orange Revolution. But there will be definitely discontent on the part of many people in Ukraine.
So the social program, the social program of Yanukovych, which was the centerpiece of his pre-election campaign, is not being supported by the concrete deeds. So this will be the real litmus test for the authorities from among the people and I expect that this litmus test will be a negative one. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: Valeriy Chaly?
MR. CHALY: You know, it’s maybe only difference for – (inaudible) – of Yanukovych coming to the power. I think it’s according to Ukrainian legislature whether it’s a completely democratic way for the election, for the president and the level of falsification in that election not allows us an opposition, that now another thing about Yanukovych is the president. He’s the president.
What about attitude? It’s a very interesting question because I tried to show you the perception by the people. For example, very significant example, it’s Black Sea fleet. Majority of Ukrainians support decision by Yanukovych, his agreement with Russia about Black Sea fleet; expert community, 99 percent, security community, foreign policy expert, completely against, including Yanukovych camp also part of that.
In the same time, if you ask people, are you agree with presence of military – foreign military forces, bases, no, 60 percent against. Are you want to be a member of EU? Yes, majority, 55 percent. Are you want to be member of Eurasian economic cooperation organization? Yes, 55 percent.
That shows that we are in the process now and that shows that during the election, mostly these politician uses for electorate goals, not to show the clear picture for the people. That’s why – I’m not named yet political elite. I name it political establishment because political elite need to have a strategic vision. Non-bloc status, sir you know it’s not the future. It’s the last century. Non-bloc, which non-bloc, we cannot understand what the strategic vision of new our leaders.
But in the same time we know these Ukrainians interested and need European standards. Definitely they support European integration. Ukrainian migrants’ best work now is in Europe, unfortunately support not Ukraine, but European countries, millions of them, works very good.
They understand the difference between the style of living in the former Soviet Union, in Europe, and they not want to be under pressure of – (inaudible). They don’t not be taken decisions without any attempts to hear the people, to hear the elite.
That’s the probable of new authority is they do not want to hear. It’s only act, act, act whereas that’s a problem of that period, the very first period. But about independence, qualified majority of Ukrainians support independence and it’s not a problem of attitude, a problem of deals and involvement on Ukrainian on the concrete action or that’s a method of how affluent the way to keep by Ukrainian establishment.
That’s why I think that Ukraine, that European nations be in the common family. But it takes more time and because we are not finalized creation of political nation, political nation doesn’t mean Ukrainians only, but also Russian, other nationalities. We not achieve our European integration goals and we are in the process of transformation. We need transforming.
So it’s a very complicated picture. Maybe in European – Eastern Europe not having to face such a challenge. That’s why when you ask about younger people, unfortunately most of them now work in Europe, in the United States and even in Russia.
But some of them now come to Ukraine and know then the Black Sea businessmen and now think about how to change situation in Ukraine. It’s a new. It’s maybe not majority of political forces but you can find young politicians that have a strategic vision for the country.
MS. BURWELL: Ambassador Scherbak, where do you see the Ukraine?
MR. SCHERBAK: Well, first of all I’d like to say that what happened in Ukraine, the victory of Mr. Yanukovych, is a great Ukrainian drama, drama of Ukrainian state, independent state and drama of Ukrainian democracy and for Ukrainian national aspiration, first of all.
Then, it was not one moment because it was long way to this drama and I think that one of main reasons for that was a battle between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko. It was dramatic development of events. President Yushchenko accused Ms. Tymoshenko every day for four years and he played crucial role in the victory of Yanukovych. It’s we must say very often about this first of all and then my colleagues – my colleague Charlie said that it’s democratically.
Okay, election was a very democratic but what happened then after election? It was absolutely undemocratic development of events, absolutely undemocratic.
I wonder that would be the reaction of the U.S. Congress and the American society if a president of the United States elected by a narrow majority, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, would override the parliament, judiciary and local authorities, limit action of the opposition, curb the freedom of speech and make an about turn in the vector of the country development to precisely please neighboring country, Canada or Mexico.
That is not just question of values but values, Western European, American values of democracy. It’s very important to us because Ukraine signed a lot of agreement about it. But this is question also of rule of law. It was violated by President Yanukovych.
And now we will see consequences – this blitzkrieg, blitzkrieg called in Ukraine by Yanukovych. It is very, very serious approach now because Ukraine for the first time in its history, in 19 years, became not a fully independent in its foreign policy state but now is becoming protectorate of Russia. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you. I had someone on my list back there, the gentleman with the tie, orangey tie, middle here, sorry.
Q: (Inaudible) – retired diplomat. There is a debate in the West whether Yanukovych is showing some balance in relations with Russia and the West or no balance. For example, some believe that Yanukovych has bent over backward to accommodate Russia in every respect. Others say, well, he refused Naftogaz from becoming merged with Gazprom.
Some say that Black Sea fleet deal was good for Ukraine because it saved a lot of money. Others argued that gas prices are coming down anyway and so it really didn’t save Ukraine much money. Some in the West say the oligarchs behind Yanukovych actually see Europe as the real market of importance for Ukraine and therefore they’re not blindly going to fall into the Russian lap.
Others argue that in fact they want to deepen their economic ties with Russia. Do you see any balance in Ukraine’s policy or Yanukovych policy thus far between West and Russia or is it all unbalanced?
MS. BURWELL: If we could have brief answers from the panel, and particularly I think from Minster Tarasyuk and Ambassador Scherbak, but you may also comment as well Valeriy and I’m getting signals that the panel can stay for 10 minutes longer.
MR. : Until 1:00.
MS. BURWELL: Until 1:00. All right, great, then we can also get some other questions out on the floor. So a quick round of responses and then we’ll go the next person who I think is right there. Go ahead, yes sorry.
MR. TARASYUK: Okay, thank you. Yes, we may say that the current authorities have established the balance between the West and Russia but this balance is in favor of Russia.
MS. BURWELL: Very quotable.
MR. TARASYUK: To my mind, the policy, the current policy’s absolutely unbalanced. It is being subordinated to interest of Russia and it looks like the current authorities are afraid of not irritating Russia. So that’s what’s being expected in many capitals and I’d add to say Washington as well. I think that the current authorities are not caring about the national interests of Ukraine.
Otherwise they would not have concluded this agreement in Kharkov on Black Sea in exchange for the gas price because this is absolutely illogical agreement. I’m now talking about the fact that this agreement is contrary to the Ukrainian constitution, article 17 of which says that no foreign military bases can be stationed on Ukraine’s territory.
So I would like to say that this agreement is the new one as compared to the previous agreement. There was the term of the previous agreement is about to expire on the 2017. So what was the reason now in 2010 to conclude the new treaty, extending the stationing of Russian Black Sea fleet since 2017 till 2042. To my mind this is illusory trade and the price, the real price of this trade is the loss of the part of Ukrainian territory of our sovereignty.
Let me speak about the price. They say that Ukraine is receiving in exchange $4 billion at the expense of the reduction for the gas price. Let me bring to your attention another figure. The price for the gas this year is higher than the price for the gas the government of Yulia Tymoshenko agreed upon with Russians.
So last year the price for the gas was the overall price for the year $228. Currently the price with these impressive concessions at the expense of our national security is higher, $234. So what was this at all about?
To my mind, the very fact that they allowed Russia to continue the lease of our territory, of our property, is absolutely asymmetric because according to the specialists, Ukraine may receive from the lease of our territory and facilities the sum equal to $5 to $6 billion a year.
So this is the answer, where to find the money, instead of illusory benefit from this deal. I think that Ukraine is definitely shifting from the subject of international relations with its own foreign policy objectives to a country which is being subordinated to Russian interests rather than pursuing and defending its own interests.
MS. BURWELL: Do you want to make a few comments?
MR. SCHERBAK: No. I completely agree with Mr. Tarasyuk.
MS. BURWELL: Valeriy, do you want to make a few comments?
MR. CHALY: You know, I only want to add – I agree that it is unbalanced, definitely unbalanced. But we will see what happens next period because now is Yanukovych also under pressure by Russia, by President Medvedev.
Remember in Kiev when Yanukovych asked Medvedev not, please stop, not move so fast. Medvedev answered – (in Russian) – you should do it. That’s why it’s also dependent on the president because definitely now we criticized that because it’s only vector that’s developed.
Now only example for that period of 100 days we have – I mean, Yanukovych have seven meetings with Russia’s prime minister and president and also seven meetings with rest of the world and five of them it was in New York, the short meeting. That shows very clear intensive relations with Russia now but what will be the final of that process we’ll see.
MS. BURWELL: We’ll see. Gentleman here, and I’m going to pick up a couple questions on this round.
Q: (Inaudible) – Department of Commerce. A quick question, I believe two of the speakers said that the United States, Canada and Europe are exhibiting weakness. Could you talk about what role stepped up European integration throughout a membership action plan could take in the 2010, 2012 environment? Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institute, it’s a very strong supporter of Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.
My question is why can the West, the elites and establishment spokespersons, not talk about both Turkey and Ukraine becoming members of the European Union and why are we talking about membership action plans for Malta and Albania but not Ukraine. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: And then if you could take back to the back there, all the way, the last row, the woman. Go ahead.
Q: In the beginning of July, Hillary Clinton is coming to Ukraine as far as I know.
MS. BURWELL: Could you identify yourself please?
Q: Oh I’m sorry. Tatiana – (inaudible) – Voice of America. I’m a reporter. July 2 to 4 approximately, Hillary Clinton is coming to Ukraine. So what do you expect from this visit, what do you think would be your message to her if you can make it and do you think is it connected anyway with Medvedev’s visit to United States, which is taking place right now? Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you. Who wants to reply? Minister, shall we start with you?
MR. TARASYUK: First of all, my 35 years in diplomacy led me to the conclusion that Ukraine has nobody to rely on. It has to rely and be responsible itself. So we should not talk in the language like whether United States, Canada or the European Union can help Ukraine.
We have to be mature enough to care about our interests. Ukraine is a rich country. So the only problem is that this richness is being the subject of illegal mostly attempts from Ukrainian oligarchs.
As to European Union objectives, I would like to say as the chairman of the European integration committee of Ukrainian parliament – by the way, tomorrow from Washington I am leaving to Brussels for the informal meeting of the parliamentarians of the so-called Eastern partnership, that is European parliamentary dimension, the European Parliament and parliaments of five partner countries.
So it is quite feasible to finalize the negotiation process of the new association agreement between the Ukraine and the European Union by the end of this year or first half of next year.
It is quite feasible to get from the European Union the so-called plan of action or roadmap concerning non-visa regime for Ukrainian citizens and if it will be the case by the end of this year, we may expect by the year 2012, 2013, it depends on Ukraine’s ability to implement its own work. The non-visa regime for Ukrainian citizens from the European Union.
You asked – you put question about the MAP, MAP you mean the membership action plan or something connected with the European Union?
Q: You spoke of the reformulation of the roadmap and the Eastern partnership.
MS. BURWELL: Eastern partnership, so I’d just say the Hillary Clinton question.
MR. TARASYUK: Yeah, Hillary Clinton, we expect that it is going to be a very important meeting, which will probably influence the forthcoming foreign policy of Obama administration towards Ukraine. So let’s hope this will be a positive – well, definition, or a definition of U.S. administration foreign policy towards Ukraine.
So I would expect the major message, keep values on which any democratic country has to develop. I will not elaborate deeper on this regard. So that’s what I have some views to deliver during our meeting in the State Department. Thank you.
MS. BURWELL: I want to, if possible, pick up one last question, then give the other panelists and minister, do you have time for that? A short question from Steve Larrabee.
Q: Yes, there’s been a kind of –
MS. BURWELL: Steve?
Q: Steve Larrabee, RAND. There’s been a little bit of an underlying theme in the commentary in the press and some of it reflected here that somehow what is happening in Ukraine is due to American weakness and the U.S. has not been supporting Ukraine enough.
I would just point out, and I will end with a question, that after all, the vice president of the United States did go to Ukraine last year and you have now the secretary of State. What, in your view, the panel’s view, are the things that the United States should be focusing on concretely that would help to solidify Ukrainian independence and democracy?
MS. BURWELL: Let’s start with Ambassador Scherbak and then Valeriy Chaly and then a few words from you, if you wish, Minister.
MR. SCHERBAK: Well, first of all, in my opinion, United States has to realize the goal of their politics in Europe toward Ukraine because if United States will focus its interest just to Russia and will recognize Ukraine as a part of sphere of influence of Russia, it will be one approach and another approach, it would be if United States would realize this is very dangerous for European stability to have Ukraine as a part of Russian politics.
It is your choice, American choice, and we hope that we will make a right choice. But now I can say that we don’t see any attempts of America, the United States in Ukraine, to change this situation, current situation in Ukraine and even United States does not present information space of Ukraine. Now is a very narrow zone of influence of American thought and American information. This is very bad.
MS. BURWELL: A few words?
MR. CHALY: Okay, I think the main challenges for Ukraine’s security or national interest lies in Ukraine are mainly of a domestic origin. That’s why very important to engage not only contacts on the governmental level but engage in the broader context, I mean, business, commercial links, civil society, party, but not – opposition party, yes, keep that and definitely to react, as United States react, of the case with First Channel and TVI.
That’s needed now and definitely needed now things about new mechanisms of guarantee of security of Ukraine and new condition.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you. Final sentence, one sentence.
MR. TARASYUK: Definitely the absence of visit of President Obama to Ukraine to my mind was a message to Russians, well, and negative message to Ukrainians, to us Ukrainians. So how can we consolidate Ukrainian independence?
First of all, the Ukrainian authorities have to take care of this. Without this, nobody could do the job for them and what we need clear message from the United States and in this regard I think that the United States has to pay more attention to the values, to the principles and to the economic development, which is to my mind very, very invisible, economic dimension.
MS. BURWELL: Thank you all very much to the panel. I know you have to rush off to get to the State Department and we’ll look for the results of your visit and Secretary Clinton’s visit to Ukraine later on. So thank you all.