Third Meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission and Signing of a Cooperative Plan on Combating Human Trafficking in Ukraine

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko
The Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
February 15, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you all very much for being here. I am pleased to join the minister in hosting the third session of the United States-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Commission. We are committed to broadening and deepening the relationship between our two countries. I would like to extend a special welcome to Presidential Adviser Akimova, Justice Minister Lavrynovych, Energy Minister Boyko, Ambassador Tefft, Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Verveer, Ambassador CdeBaca, and the other distinguished participants here today.

Since we began these meetings in December 2009, we have sought to use our partnership commission to plan and implement concrete actions that improve the life for both of our peoples. The extent of Ukrainian representation in this room sends a clear message about Ukraine’s commitment and the progress that it seeks to promote.

In my conversation today with Foreign Minister Gryshchenko, we discussed the challenges that we face. We covered many topics, including our effective cooperation to stop nuclear proliferation, our support for Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its own democracy and the rule of law, and progress on global issues from food security to HIV/AIDS, as well as steps to help Ukraine develop its domestic energy resources and attract greater private investment, particularly from the United States.

We have rolled up our sleeves, Minister, to pursue our common goal of a Ukraine that is more secure, prosperous, and democratic.

The truth is that Ukraine is well positioned to realize its own citizens’ hope for a genuine democracy and a prosperous economy. It has an educated, innovative population, deep foundations of democracy, including a vibrant civil society – some of whom I met earlier today – the potential to become energy independent, and the capacity to lead on key regional and global issues.

President Yanukovych has said he is ready to take bold initiatives to exercise that leadership. Last year, he pledged to eliminate Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium, and Ukraine is fully on schedule to eliminate all of its HEU in 2012. That leadership elevated Ukraine’s standing in the global community, bringing full circle a process that began in 1994 with Ukraine’s historic decision to give up nuclear weapons. With U.S. assistance, Ukraine has ushered in a new era of peaceful nuclear power.

Now we are also looking to Ukraine to continue the commitments that President Yanukovych has made to transparent government, strong rule of law, protection of freedom of speech and media, comprehensive judicial reform in partnership with the Ukrainian people, with stakeholders throughout the country, including opposition leaders and members of civil society. Many of the civil society activists here from Ukraine really are committed to strengthening their country, and we support their goals. They are really committed to also being a partner with their government, and they will be working to see more progress.

We also are hoping to see the investment climate improve and business open up. We want to see Ukraine prosper and think that there is an enormous opportunity for that. One example will be the memorandum Ambassador Morningstar and Minister of Energy and Coal Boyko will sign today. This MOU will launch a U.S. geological survey effort to develop exploration and development of unconventional gas, and that is a direct result of a conversation that the foreign minister and I began in Kiev about cooperative energy ventures.

We have negotiated a five-year partnership framework to strengthen the delivery of health services and treatment for Ukrainians living with HIV/AIDS. And we’re launching a five-year, $20 million program to strengthen Ukraine’s agricultural sector and help build its potential as a major contributor to global food security.

I’m pleased we’re making progress also on another issue, human trafficking. Today, we will sign a bilateral Cooperation Plan on Combating Human Trafficking in Ukraine. The recent repatriation from Ukraine to the United States of a trafficker accused of taking more than $1 million in profits from the women he exploited is just one way we are working to end this tragic worldwide blight.

So Ukraine is on a remarkable journey. The United States wants to assist on that journey. We want to make sure that the progress is tangible and the benefits real for the Ukrainian people. And I thank you very much, Minister, for being part of the leadership that is heading in the right direction for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

FOREIGN MINISTER GRYSHCHENKO: Well, thank you, Madam Secretary. It’s a great honor to be here, to be in the State Department at this very important occasion.

Now, strategic partnership with the United States has become a very important part of our foreign policy, and we do rely on this strategic partnership to help us guide the shape of our statehood through the waters which are not easy that surrounds us in this global economic situation that changes with every year.

I don’t want to repeat what you have already underlined, the importance of the current agreements that we have – we are going to sign right now. We see a very important task before us in the future, that is, to make sure that the progress Ukraine is making in transforming our economy and social fabric. To meet the high standards of transatlantic democracies is something which is very dear to us and an important factor which should be helping in our success.

We have discussed, prior to this signing event and opening the commission’s session, some of the issues that are extremely important for this strategic partnership to develop for mutually successful progress. And we take – Ukrainian delegation, some of the messages back home. And I believe that some of the messages we have tried to get across here were carefully noted, and we will continue this dialogue in all areas – in the economic (inaudible), in making this cooperation in the nonproliferation area more effective still, and in continuous of the high-level political dialogue between two countries, which is important to understand that the logic and motivation of the events, and the programs that we have inside our country.

The world is changing all the time, but we rely as a constant on your understanding and your support in fulfilling our ambitious European agenda. We believe that Ukraine is destined to be an integral part for European Union and we think that this strategic cooperation between the U.S. and EU should be upheld for (inaudible) in promoting our own goals. Today, we have an opportunity to continue our work, to hear reports of our working groups. We have brought a very important delegation to underline the need to have these high-level exchanges for the benefit of our both countries.

Thank you so much, Madam Secretary, for your hospitality, for the frankness, but also the positive attitude that you have expressed in discussing many of the important priorities that we place before us. Thank you (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. So now, we will be signing.

(The cooperative plan is signed.) (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/215