KIEV, October 1 (Itar-Tass) — Ukraine should be committed to the principle of national pragmatism in relations with its partners, Ukrainian First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Andrei Kluyev said.
In the article published in the Zerkalo Nedeli newspaper on Saturday, Kluyev said despite its European choice, Ukraine should also develop relations with Russia and China.
“Today the strategic choice is evident: we are moving to the European Union. But, despite the European aspirations, Russia was, is and will be the important partner for Ukraine. We also watch the new economic leaders – China, India and others. We stepped up relations with China, primarily in the economic field,” the Ukrainian vice-prime minister stressed.
He quoted Kazakhstani Minister of Economic Development and Trade Kairat Kelimbetov as saying at the Yalta forum, “The European Union is Kazakhstan’s key economic partner. After it are Russia and China. This is the order. That is why Ukraine’s drive for membership in the EU are evident and clear.”
Earlier, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said his country would uphold Ukraine’s European ambitions.
After the meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on September 28, Komorowski said, “Poland will uphold European ambitions of Ukraine, our closest neighbour.”
One of the major achievements “is an agreement on a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU. This is a very important step towards the right direction”, Komorowski said. “The EU and Ukraine have to sign the Association Agreement. We’ve waited for a difficult process for ratifying documents, which have been signed recently,” he added.
“The agreement on the free trade zone will facilitate the exchange of goods, turnover of capital and the creation of new jobs,” Yanukovich said, adding that Ukraine wanted to use the agreement more actively in order to improve citizens’ living standards.
Commenting on the talks with Komorowski, the Ukrainian president said the heads of state “discussed bilateral relations and Ukraine’s European integration, Poland’s support for the republic during its presidency in the EU, Ukrainian-EU cooperation and our European future”.
With Poland’s support Ukraine is actively holding talks to sign the Association Agreement and the agreement on the free trade zone. These documents are expected to be signed this year. But many EU countries rivet attention to Yulia Timoshenko’s trial. They consider it political. Poland, which seeks to sign the agreement with Kiev during its presidency (till December 31), hopes that Timoshenko will be freed from all charges. Otherwise, the Ukraine-EU summit slated for December may not take place.
Yanukovich said Ukraine’s drive for integrating into Europe was evident. “Despite the difficulties, the main step has been taken: we’ve finally decided on our future. Our drive for Europe is our foreign political priority. European values are the basis of our development.”
He expressed confidence that the Association Agreement and the creation of a free trade zone “are what Ukraine and the European Union need today”. “We hope that our partners will understand us,” the Ukrainian president added.
In his words, Ukraine is not easily want to be a European country. “This geographical fact does not require any proof. We want to join a big European project – to build a united Europe on the basis of freedom, democracy and law,” Yanukovich stressed.
He said fighting corruption was Ukraine’s priority. “Although not many like this, from now on there will be no immune persons. No offices and savings could shelter criminals from punishment.”
According to Yanukovich, the last 20 years were not easy for Ukraine: hard reality has destroyed hopes for quickly improving living standards and the country continues to overcome the Soviet heritage.
The president believes that Ukraine “needs modernisation of all spheres of public life”. “Further delay can lead to stagnation and a risk of slow death of the state. In order to avoid the tragedy we’ve embarked on the reform path,” he noted.
These years corruption has eroded the system of government and deprived Ukrainians of the opportunity to breathe freely. “The reform will help us overcome corruption that is Ukraine’s priority task,” the president stressed.
“We set high purposes. Ukraine should enter the club of world powers. We should allow Ukrainian businessmen to work freely. We are removing administrative barriers, which will prevent our citizens from feeling comfortable on their land,” Yanukovich said.
He recalled that Ukraine had changed tax and budget legislation. The country continues the administrative and pension reforms. A new code of criminal procedure “is under discussion”. “We are working out new serious actions. Ukraine has changed. Reforms will continue for the benefit of the Ukrainian people,” the president emphasised.
He stressed that the Ukrainian leadership would do its best to introduce visa-free travel with the European Union. “Our leadership will do everything possible to introduce visa-free travel with EU countries,” the Ukrainian president wrote.
At the same time, Yanukovich recalled that next year Ukraine and its strategic partner Poland would host Euro 2012. “This event will give one more chance to citizens of EU countries to travel to Ukraine. Ukrainians will be able to communicate to tourists and sport fans from EU countries,” the president said.