Remarks With Ukrainian Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
Before I turn to the issues that the minister and I discussed and the shared objectives the United States and Ukraine are working toward, I’d like to say a few words about Honduras. President-elect Lobo has been meeting this week with President Arias of Costa Rica, President Martinelli of Panama, and has been in touch with other leaders throughout the hemisphere to advance regional cooperation with respect to Honduras.
Ever since the June 28 coup, the United States has remained dedicated both to our democratic principles and our determination to help Honduras find a pragmatic path to restore democratic and constitutional order. We condemned President Zelaya’s expulsion from Honduras as inconsistent with democratic principles and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and we have taken significant steps to signal our determination.
At the same time, working with OAS, President Arias and diverse sectors in Honduras, we’ve spared no effort to help Hondurans find a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the crisis, a resolution that restores democratic and constitutional order. We supported the San Jose process. We welcomed the negotiations among Hondurans themselves that led to the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. And we are encouraged by the work of regional leaders in support of this process. Yesterday, I spoke with President Arias and I will continue to reach out to other leaders as well.
A year-long electoral process culminated on November 29 when the Honduran people expressed their democratic will peacefully and in large numbers. And we salute the Honduran people for this achievement and we congratulate President-elect Lobo for his victory. These November 29 elections marked an important milestone in the process moving forward, but not its end. President-elect Lobo has launched a national dialogue and he has called for the formation of a national unity government and a truth commission as set forth in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. We stand with the Honduran people and we will continue to work closely with others in the region who seek to determine the democratic way forward for Honduras.
But let me now turn to the subject of the day, Ukraine. As I said, the minister and I reaffirmed our broad partnership. The United States is committed to supporting Ukraine as it continues on the path to democracy and prosperity. We applaud the growth of a free press and a vibrant political culture in Ukraine. We support Ukraine’s further integration with NATO and the European Union. And we look forward to the free and fair presidential elections in January, and to working with the leaders chosen by the Ukrainian people as they take the steps necessary for economic recovery and reform.
A strong and independent Ukraine is good for the region and good for the world. Our meeting today built on the inaugural session of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission, a body that was created during Vice President Biden’s visit in July. Our hope is that this commission will help improve cooperation on security, on the economy, on trade, on energy, and on the rule of law. By working together as partners, I am confident that we can meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century. With the end of the START treaty last week, it is worth recalling the landmark decision that Ukraine made 15 years ago to give up its nuclear weapons and join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
These decisions advanced the global cause of nonproliferation and led the United States to join Russia and the United Kingdom in extending security assurances in 1994, assurances that we have reaffirmed last week and again today that remain in force. I’m also pleased to note that the United States and Ukraine recently agreed to restart cooperation on dismantling scud missiles. Ukraine today makes important contributions to global peace and security, including contributions to international peacekeeping missions from Kosovo to Liberia to Sudan.
And the United States appreciates Ukraine’s contributions to the important mission in Afghanistan. And I wish to commend the foreign minister for the work that he is doing to work with Moldova to demarcate the border.
So let me thank the foreign minister for his visit and for the friendship between our two countries. I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.
FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank Secretary Clinton for her warm hospitality, and we had a very productive negotiation. I greatly appreciate your message that U.S. will stand Ukraine and its continue on the path of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.
It’s very important for me to establish the – that we have established direct dialogue. We have a long list of problem we should deal together. And we really want to thank you for the firm support which was declared on our today meeting.
In the meantime, while appreciating that United States has recently reconfirmed the security assurance provided to Ukraine, and it should be – it is already reconfirmed on our meeting. It is crucially important for Ukraine – and we discussed this question on our today meeting – the return of IMF mission and the – to reestablish the work of mission of IMF to Ukraine if it would be possible this year in Ukraine to undertake the certain steps to demonstrate the openness and the effectiveness in cooperation with IMF.
The crucially importance for us is today integration meeting of our Commission for Strategic Partnership, and I think this is absolutely new and very important for us forum for our cooperation and dialogue in the different sphere you mentioned today.
And it is a great honor and I want to reconfirm the invitation to the Secretary Clinton to visit Ukraine on early possible time taking into account the busy schedule, and we think that our current level of cooperation is very high, very acceptable. And I want to thank you very much for – Madame Secretary, to you for that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
MR. KELLY: The first question to Kirit Radia from ABC.
QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. Just a – there’s news today about five individuals arrested in Pakistan. I’m curious whether you can – we know some of them are American – if you can tell us what you know about the case, what you’ve heard from the Pakistanis, and whether this is the result of any information given by the United States.
For the minister, I’m wondering if you could tell us if missile defense came up during your conversation today and whether Ukraine is willing to play any role. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to the reports of five individuals being detained in Pakistan, I have no comment at this time.
FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: We did not raise the question of missile defense, but we understand that the question of the global security and question about security of Ukraine assurance for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity is crucially important for us, and there is a different forum how we can guarantee this important question for us, not only the missile defense question. But we are ready for cooperation in different sphere.
MODERATOR: The second question will be posed by Maksym Drabok from Inter TV.
QUESTION: The question is about safety, energy safety. In this charter on strategic partnership which was signed last year, it was mentioned that the United States will help to modernize Ukraine’s gas transportation system, and all the projects will be discussed with the new Administration, with you. So are there any result, any projects, and so on? Thank you very much to both.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to start?
FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: We pay special attention to the question of the energy security and we discussed the very important events which should take place on the 18th of December in Zagrab when Ukraine should join the Energy Community Treaty and on the expert level we finish all this work. And we think that the question of the energy security, again, should be global. This is – it’s impossible to solve on the bilateral level. And I think we demonstrate absolutely good understanding of the current situation, and also in this particular sphere we continue our very effective cooperation with the United States.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Ambassador Morningstar was in our meeting. He is our special envoy on behalf of Eurasian energy. We reiterated, as the minister had said, the importance that we place on Ukraine becoming more energy secure and more energy independent. There is a tremendous opportunity in the future for Ukraine to develop much greater energy sufficiency by attracting investments in the natural gas sector. A lot of it, though, will depend upon the economic and political reforms that Ukraine is addressing. But we reiterated with the minister and his delegation that we will certainly support Ukraine becoming more integrated within the European energy security framework and we will support in any way, through technical expertise and other assistance, the development of the Ukrainian energy sector. We know that there are a number of investors from the United States and elsewhere who are interested in participating, but the most important precondition is that these economic and political reforms take place so that the Ukrainian people can realize the benefits of their own natural resources.
MR. KELLY: The next question to Jill Dougherty, CNN.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, I understand you said you do not want to make any comment about the specific cases of the people who were arrested in Pakistan, but in a broader sense, this subject of Americans who might be involved in terrorism internationally in other countries seems to be coming up. President Obama spoke about it the other day. I know you’ve spoken with Secretary Napolitano, who’s talked about it. We have a case in Chicago concerned with Mumbai. Could you just, in general terms, tell us, is this an increasing concern? What is the level of the concern at this point?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I wouldn't describe it as an increasing concern for our Administration because it’s always been a concern. We have been well aware of the threats that we continue to face along with friends and allies around the world. We know that much of the training and the direction for terrorists comes from Pakistan and the border area with Afghanistan. One of the reasons why President Obama made the decision which he announced last week with respect to our strategy going forward is because we continue to see a syndicate of terrorism that al-Qaida is, in effect, the head of that is not only an aspirational or ideological head, but providing funding and training and equipping and operational direction to a number of terrorist groups.
And therefore, we will remain very vigilant at home. We will work with our friends and allies who face similar threats. But we know we’ve got to work more closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to root out the infrastructure of terrorism that continues to recruit and train people who are willing to do what is alleged with Mr. Zazi, David Headley, and others in the recent cases that have come to light.
QUESTION: And Mr. Minister, if I could ask you a quick question, too. The Secretary mentioned the START agreement and we know that, of course, they didn’t quite make that deadline, but they seem to be moving ahead pretty well. In Ukraine’s eyes, in Ukraine’s opinion, is – and from what you know about what they seem to be getting toward, what is Ukraine’s opinion on START? Is it the type of agreement that meets the requirements if – that Ukraine believes are important?
FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: Of course, the – we pay great importance to the START agreement. But for us, it is of very special importance, the connection, the security assurance, which was presented to the whole nuclear states to Ukraine. And I tell Madame Secretary that Ukraine six times in this century losing the – its independence. And for us, we undertake the very decisive step when we – in the beginning of the ‘90s was the third state for the numbers of nuclear weapons we owned. And we voluntarily refuse from these nuclear weapons. We are interested in the continued dialogue for the – to increasing the form of assurance for the Ukrainian security. And that’s why we have closely connected the question of the assurance to the question of the continuation of the START agreement. That is, I think, our common approach to this question.
MODERATOR: And the last question goes to Ruslan Petrychka from the Ukrainian Service of the Voice of America.
QUESTION: Thank you. A question to both of you. Next month in Ukraine, there are going to be very important presidential elections. And have you discussed this issue in your meeting? And is – are there any steps that the United States can take to assure free and open elections next month?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have reiterated our hope that the election process goes smoothly, that the elections are free and fair and produce an outcome that will be respected, both within Ukraine and around the world. It is for the Ukrainian people to decide who their elected leaders should be. But the promise of the Orange Revolution, which was so moving to so many of us, is that the people of Ukraine have the right to choose their leaders without interference, without any kind of electoral abuse. And we are doing all we can to support Ukraine. And of course, we will work with whoever the Ukrainian people elect in a fair and free election.
FOREIGN MINISTER POROSHENKO: I can only confirm that we now – when the election campaign is already in the peak of their time, we can guarantee and we can demonstrate that the election and the election campaign is free and fair. Me, as a minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine, invite more than 1,000 observers to guarantee the character of the election. We now demonstrate the – one of the greatest achievement of the Ukraine, this is the freedom of speech, freedom of mass media, the equal access of all the candidates to all these resources.
And from my point of view, even the fact that nobody knows – this is the first presidential election in the Ukraine where nobody knows who will be the next president. This is also the symbol of democracy. (Laughter.) And from my point of view, I think that the Ukraine successfully pass these exams for democracy, for the members of this civilized society. And we feel the support from all of our partners, including the United States. And we want to thank the United States for that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all very much.