Remarks With Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me begin by thanking the president for his hospitality. And I want to extend on behalf of President Obama and myself congratulations on your upcoming 60th birthday. I am delighted to be back in Ukraine for my fourth visit. I was privileged to come twice as First Lady, once as a senator from New York, and now as Secretary of State on behalf of the Obama Administration.
Ukraine’s journey has been remarkable, and people in many nations, including the United States, are deeply impressed by your progress. The United States is proud of our partnership with Ukraine and the many ties that connect the American and Ukrainian people.
The president and I had a very productive meeting. We discussed ways that Ukraine and the United States can deepen and expand our strategic partnership, moving forward with the work of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission that I co-chair along with the foreign minister.
My visit comes at an important moment in Ukraine’s history. The recent elections represented a major step in the consolidation of Ukraine’s democracy.
As Ukraine moves forward, the country will face questions about its place in the region and the world. Some have tried to force Ukrainians into a choice between aligning your country with Russia or with the West. We believe that is a false choice. Ukraine is an independent nation, and we hope Ukraine will have good relations with its neighbors – including Russia – and that Ukraine will pursue close, constructive relationships with the United States and countries of the European Union. We do not believe in the concept of “spheres of influence.” We believe that it is up to Ukrainians to chart your own course towards your own future. And in doing so, you can count on the support and friendship of the United States.
The president and I also discussed economic reform, which is critical to Ukraine’s ability to prosper and attract foreign investment. We discussed energy reform and its potential to transform Ukraine into an energy producer and becoming more energy efficient, which will save money not only for the government, but the people of Ukraine in the long run.
We also discussed the importance of protecting Ukraine’s democracy by supporting a strong civil society, media independence, and public sector transparency. And we appreciate the president’s recent statements in support of media freedom and we will work with the Ukrainian Government to continue safeguarding these critical liberties.
We are following up on Ukraine’s historic decision to get rid of its stocks of highly enriched uranium by 2012, and we greatly appreciate the leadership the president showed in making that announcement at the Nuclear Security Summit in April.
And the United States welcomes Ukrainian parliament’s decision to approve foreign military exercises on Ukrainian territory in 2010 and we thank Ukraine and the Ukrainian people for your important contributions to NATO and other international security operations.
Mr. President, your nation’s commitment to democracy has inspired the United States and the world, and we will draw upon that inspiration as we work to build the partnership between our nations. I thank you for your hospitality, and both President Obama and I look forward to many years of close cooperation and partnership between our governments and our people.
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) Dear Secretary of State, dear ladies and gentleman, I’m very happy to welcome you in Ukraine today. I’m grateful to you, your Excellency and I’m grateful to President Obama for all the kind words that you have told me today.
Today’s meeting with the Secretary of State has reaffirmed the readiness of our both countries to further deepen bilateral relations on the basis of the U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership.
Today, we had a wonderful opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues of the U.S.-Ukrainian relations and identify the areas where our cooperation can further broaden. This is true in particular about increasing our cooperation in the areas of trade and investments as well as energy.
We paid special attention to discussing some practical aspects of the implementation of the agreements that we reached when I saw President Obama in April of this month in Washington. The State Secretary and myself were quite happy to note the fruitful results of the second meeting of the U.S.-Ukrainian Commission on Strategic Partnership that took place this morning in Kyiv with participation of our high-ranking guest.
During our meeting, we also shared our ideas about a range of important international issues and we noted that our understanding of possible solutions for them is very close. The issues related to Ukraine’s domestic situation were also on the agenda today. And I’m very happy to know that the United States assess positively political stabilization in the country, the fact that the public administration system is becoming more effective – basically that means that they positively assess the first steps of Ukraine toward reforms.
It is very important that the United States support the program to overcome the crisis that the Ukrainian government and president are implementing. We highly appreciate the readiness of the United States to provide support to Ukraine in some of the most important areas for the country, such as reestablishing cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, overcoming the consequences of the financial and economic crisis, and conducting systemic reforms in Ukraine.
We highly appreciate the position that – the consistent position of the United States that was reaffirmed today to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and inviolability of its borders. This is especially important for Ukraine as a European non-bloc nation. I want to emphasize that the United States of America is our reliable, strategic partner, and we on the Ukrainian side are ready to do whatever is necessary to further consolidate our partnership. I am cordially grateful to you, dear Secretary of State, for our today’s fruitful work.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The first question is to you, dear Secretary of State. Yesterday, it was very – it was made official that Ukraine is going to try to play an important role in the world as a non-bloc nation, and that it is going to support the initiatives in the area of new European security architecture. And in that respect, how would you see the role and the place of Ukraine within the European, Euro-Atlantic, and perhaps global security systems?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. First, the United States supports Ukraine’s efforts to balance the concerns and interests of not only Russia and the United States and the European Union, but its own view of the future and how it expects to develop economically and politically. We support European Union integration and I was encouraged by the president’s report that there is progress toward that goal. We support Euro-Atlantic cooperation. And as I said, we are grateful for Ukraine’s contributions to NATO security efforts and other peacekeeping operations around the world. And we look forward to the joint U.S.-Ukraine military exercises. And we also support a relationship with Russia that is in Ukraine’s interest that helps to further what President Obama has called the resetting of relations with Russia.
So just, very clearly, let me state, we want to see a strong, democratic Ukraine that is able to produce economic prosperity and opportunity for the Ukrainian people and to play a significant role regionally and globally.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Question to the president of Ukraine: How do both sides assess the implementation of the Washington agreements in the area of nuclear security, whether the commitments are being complied with by both parties?
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) The Washington summit that took place in spring of this year on the initiative of President Obama was very important for Ukraine, primarily in terms of its consistent policy in the area of national and international security and, in particular, nuclear security.
And as we welcome President Obama’s initiative, we made a decision to gradually remove highly enriched uranium from Ukrainian territory. It’s a process that has already started. We are in the preparatory phase today, the result of which would be a one-time removal of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine while low enriched uranium is to be imported as well as technologies and the proper equipment for Ukrainian research centers. This is very important for Ukraine because Ukraine is a country that exports its nuclear units, so it is important that it can continue its research with the use of low enriched uranium. This meets the interests of the national science of Ukraine and it meets the interests of the world’s security. And this also reflects the wish of Ukraine to expand non-nuclear space all over the world.
Let me also add that at that summit in Washington, Ukraine made the – brought up in the initiative to have a conference in Kyiv in 2011 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy, during which – during that conference we could actually follow up on the subject matter of the Washington summit.
Of course, we have to remind the world community about the Chernobyl tragedy, as well as about the commitments of the donor nations to overcome the consequences of the tragedy. Because when we speak about the new challenges, we should not remember – we should not forget the past.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned in previous remarks the (inaudible). How specifically is this cooperation working, and what kind of signals did you get from the Ukrainian side (inaudible)?
Mr. President (inaudible). What role is there (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe there is a great opportunity. And in fact, at the Nuclear Security Summit, President Yanukovych asked President Obama to encourage U.S. energy firms to look seriously at investments here in Ukraine.
We support the reforms being discussed to change the way that the energy sector operates in Ukraine to ensure transparent, credible processes for investing in the opportunities available. We support the recommendations made by the European Union, the World Bank, the European Reconstruction and Development Bank, and other experts who see tremendous potential for economic gain by Ukraine in a reformed functioning energy market that will attract investments from around the world. Specifically, we believe American companies would be interested in the civil nuclear power industry, developing the shale gas and methane gas potential that Ukraine holds, as well as deep-water drilling in the Black Sea. And our Special Envoy for Eurasian energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, will be staying to have in-depth discussions with the minister and other experts in the Ukrainian Government.
PRESIDENT YANUKOVYCH: (Via interpreter.) Ukraine just has to be a reliable supplier of natural gas oil to the European Union. So we will do everything we need so that both gas transportation and oil transit systems of Ukraine work effectively and reliably and provide for the necessary supplies of hydrocarbons to go toward Europe.
As regards to the gas transportation system of Ukraine, we have our own concept for its development that we have shared with our colleagues from the European Union and Russia. This concept is based on the idea to establish a joint company with participation of EU nations, Russia, and Ukraine. The idea of which would be to build a new pipeline – gas pipeline – across Ukraine that would make it possible to supply increased volumes of gas to Europe. Our calculations show that this idea can be competitive and attractive.
We’re now expecting our partners to provide answers to our questions, and we think that the procedure whereby the decision will be made will be transparent and fair. And as regards the upgrade of the current gas transit system, we’re in favor of this upgrade being undertaken together with our foreign partners. This modernization could also lead to a more stable and reliable performance of the system and will increase the amounts of gas that we will transit.