In this speech named “Ukraine’s Foreign Policy: OSCE Chairmanship”, Leonid Kozhara, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, shares his country’s foreign policy priorities as well as the country’s visions for the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) as Ukraine takes over the chairmanship this year. He addresses issues in security Ukraine will try to address, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, environmental challenges, human trafficking, freedom of the press, and more.
Esteemed President Jardfelt,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to express my gratitude to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs for this opportunity to speak to you today.
I am encouraged by your interest towards my country at this very important moment of time.
Today I am glad to share with you my vision of Ukraine’s foreign policy priorities with a special focus on the OSCE Chairmanship that Ukraine undertakes this year.
I will also touch upon bilateral relations between Ukraine and Sweden, as well as Ukraine’s European integration agenda.
OSCE Chairmanship means leading the world’s largest regional security organization, and as such it is a great responsibility for me personally and for my country.
There are two distinctive features, which make the OSCE different and irreplaceable in the row of other actors playing in the field of regional security.
The first is its wide geographical scope, with 57 participating States stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
The second is its comprehensive security mandate, covering three dimensions of security: politico-military, economic and environmental, human, as well as cross-dimensional issues.
Dag Hammarskjöld, one of the most prominent Swedish diplomats of all times, wrote back in 1963: "Only in true surrender to the interest of all can we reach that strength and independence, that unity of purpose, that equity of judgment which are necessary if we are to measure up to our duty."
Acting in the interest of all, as a bridge-builder across diverging views, Ukraine continues to work on important issues, where consensus so far proved elusive.
We attach particular attention to maintaining a balanced approach across all three OSCE dimensions, as well as to promoting trust, confidence and reconciliation among the participating States.
The Helsinki+40 process, initiated last year at the Dublin Ministerial, seems to be a promising network for facilitating these tasks.
We should not confine this anniversary to a mere commemoration. The Ukrainian Chairmanship will focus the Helsinki+40 on the implementation of practical steps, in particular on overcoming divergences and clarifying the role and goals of the OSCE in the modern security landscape.
Olof Palme said in his famous Gävle speech of July 1965: "It is an illusion to believe that it is possible to meet demands for social justice with violence and military might".
Sharing fully this vision, we are concerned with the current situation in the area of conventional arms control and decrease of the level of mutual confidence and transparency in the military sphere.
The ongoing deadlock on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe deprives us of a significant instrument for building confidence in military matters.
As a state which chose not to belong to any politico-military alliance, Ukraine feels the necessity of finding the way out.
Thus, we see high relevance of our initiative to launch dialogue in the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation aimed at discussing the role conventional arms control can play in current and future European security architecture.
As a strong advocate of global regime of non-proliferation, Ukraine together with Poland, Belarus and Kazakhstan initiated the update of the 1994 OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation to take into account current developments, trends and challenges in the sphere of WMD non-proliferation.
Unresolved conflicts in the OSCE area continue to represent a serious threat to our regional stability and remain a major concern to all OSCE participating States.
Ukraine is strongly determined to contribute to the Transdniestrian settlement process. As a state-guarantor and co-mediator Ukraine believes that the “5+2” format remains the key instrument for achieving a comprehensive settlement.
We are doing and will do our best to promote a positive atmosphere in the negotiation process and to support the Parties’ will to continue an open dialogue.
This year two official meetings in the “5+2” format have been held under the Ukrainian Chairmanship in the Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Odesa.
Ukraine fully supports the work within the framework of the Geneva International Discussions aimed at solving pressing security and humanitarian issues in the areas of conflict in Georgia.
The situation around Nagorno-Karabakh settlement requires continued and close attention on the part of the OSCE. Ukraine lends its support to the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs in assisting the parties to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Security, political and economic transitions in Afghanistan as well as the upcoming withdrawal of the international security forces from Afghanistan in 2014 will continue to have security implications for the OSCE area. Therefore, we will further explore areas that require enhanced interaction with Afghanistan and improved coordination with relevant international actors.
In pursuing this objective, the OSCE Ukrainian Chairmanship exerts every effort to facilitate in-depth discussions on Organisation’s engagement with Afghanistan. In our view, the OSCE should elaborate a common perspective on the strategies that need to be pursued to support effective transition in Afghanistan and to respond to potential security challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Without properly addressing existing and potential challenges in the economic and environmental sphere it is impossible to promote comprehensive security and to build lasting peace and stability in the OSCE region.
Ukraine proposed the topic of this year’s OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum “Increasing stability and security: Improving the environmental footprint of energy related activities in the OSCE region”.
It would provide an opportunity to discuss energy and environmental challenges to security, as well as to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy cooperation in the OSCE area.
Together with the Turkmen partners we put forward the initiative of holding a High Level International Conference on Energy Security in Ashgabat in October this year. We count on the active engagement of all participating States in implementing this initiative.
Finally, the Ukrainian Chairmanship is convinced that our commitment to the Human Dimension of security is at the core of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security.
The fight against trafficking in human beings remains one of the key issues addressed by the OSCE under the Ukrainian Chairmanship.
A number of public events have been organized, including the international conference on strengthening of the OSCE response to trafficking in human beings, which will be held in Kyiv in June.
Further priorities in this dimension include strengthening freedom of the media.
Two weeks ago a Human Rights Seminar in Warsaw contributed to sharing best practices for the development of legal frameworks, which would safeguard free, independent and pluralistic media.
We will also strive to achieve progress in the areas of free movement of people, promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination, freedom of association and assembly, inter-religious dialogue in promoting freedom of religion or belief, as well as democratic elections and election observation.
Finally, this summer we will host the OSCE Youth Summit in the Crimea, Ukraine.
This event is aimed at engaging youth representatives from all OSCE participating States, raising their awareness of current security issues and challenges, as well as promoting mutual understanding and principles of tolerance and non-discrimination.
Let me tackle briefly one more theme. Neutral or non-aligned nations in the Euro-Atlantic area, including Sweden and Ukraine, can make a positive contribution in the security environment in a number of ways.
They can be efficient, unbiased and honest political brokers. They may put forth new ideas and initiatives which are not tinted by bloc-to-bloc approaches.
And they are the glue that may connect different worlds with diverging sets of values and security concerns.
From a geopolitical point of view, neutral or non-aligned states also strengthen security of others by establishing predictable and long-lasting security arrangements with no surprises or shifts in the future.
I would like to speak now about bilateral relations between Ukraine and Sweden and their importance for Ukraine’s European integration.
The development of friendly and mutually beneficial ties with Sweden is traditionally of great significance for Ukraine.
Sweden recognised independence of Ukraine in 1991. The state visit of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden to Ukraine in autumn 2008 was the important milestone in the Ukrainian-Swedish relations.
For more than twenty years Sweden has consistently supported democratic reforms and economic transformation in my country.
The high level officials maintain intensive political contacts. We appreciate the frank and open political dialogue with Sweden over the prospects of the European integration of Ukraine.
Sweden is Ukraine’s largest trading partner in Northern Europe and ranks the ninth place among 130 countries that made their investments in our economy last year. More than a hundred Swedish companies operate in Ukraine.
I believe that many Swedes who visited Ukraine last year for another Pan-European project, Euro 2012, became interested in further exploring business opportunities there. We welcome the Vikings of modern time in Ukraine for reasons of deepening trade cooperation, developing of people-to-people contacts and simply for tourist reasons.
I would like to take this occasion to stress once again Ukraine’s commitment to sign the Association Agreement at Vilnius Eastern Partnership summit this year and to continue gradually and constantly with implementation of internal reforms.
We positively assess the progress in technical preparation of the Agreement for signature and look forward to adoption of the relevant decision by the European Council.
The Government of Ukraine makes every effort in implementing the comprehensive modernization agenda aimed at achieving European standards in all spheres. Electoral, judiciary and constitutional reforms are three main pillars of such activity.
I should underline that this progress is already significant and quite tangible. This is to illustrate that Ukraine is serious in its intent to modernize itself in line with European standards. We are doing this work not just for the sake of putting ticks to a number of formal benchmarks. We are doing that for ourselves.
We count on the support of our Swedish partners in this endeavour.
As you say in Sweden, "visdomen har långa öron och kort tunga" (wisdom has long ears and short tongue). This makes me stop here as my intention is not a monologue but a lively and thought-provoking discussion.
Leonid Kozhara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, “Ukraine’s Foreign Policy: OSCE Chairmanship,” Swedish Institute of International Affairs, May 29, 2013. http://mfa.gov.ua/en. Source for speech.