Vol. 10, Issue No. 29/2003
The European University
ADDRESS BY U.S. AMBASSADOR CARLOS PASCUAL
To Representatives of Non-State Educational Institutions, Rectors of Kyiv, Universities and Faculty and Students of the European University
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to join this gathering of people dedicated to helping the young people of Ukraine prepare for their futures, and for the future of their country. In the audience there are rectors, pro-rectors, professors and other staff members from both State and non-State educational institutions. Some of you represent institutions with long and proud histories. Others are from brand new institutions that came into being after independence to fill the demand for new educational opportunities. You have the most important job in your nation - preparing your next generation for the enormous challenges ahead. The future of Ukraine literally depends on you. I want you to know that the United States has been and always will be Ukraine's friend as you strive to realize the dream of a democratic, prosperous, sovereign and secure Ukraine, fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community.
Since Ukraine regained its independence in 1991, the United States has worked with the government and people of Ukraine to help you make the changes needed for Ukraine to move forward, in its economy, its political system and its civil society. We are ready to be Ukraine's partner. But no external support can substitute for the actions Ukraine takes internally to define its future. The standards for Euro-Atlantic integration are clear.
Virtually all of Ukraine's neighbors are rising to these standards. Only Ukraine can decide whether to follow a similar course. Indeed, the choices made by Ukraine will fundamentally determine Ukraine's relationships with the United States, its European neighbors and NATO. It is in this context that I would like to review relations between the United States and Ukraine.
Eleven Years of Friendship
The United States was one of the first countries to begin diplomatic relations, open an Embassy and offer needed economic and humanitarian assistance after Ukraine's independence in 1991. Ukraine mattered - not only because more than one million Americans trace their roots to Ukraine, but because of Ukraine's size, economic potential, and strategic location in Europe. Knowing Ukraine's tragic history, we strongly believed that Ukraine deserved as much support as possible from the world community now that it had achieved its cherished independence. I remember how, in 1991, millions of Ukrainians joined hands across your country, symbolizing your commitment to freedom. Your civic action made world history.
It is important to recall some facts about the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship.
The United States is the largest bilateral donor in Ukraine. American companies are the largest foreign investors. Our support for grassroots dialogue between Ukrainians and American is unprecedented: the United States has sponsored academic and professional exchange programs that have enabled over 25,000 Ukrainians to study or have professional visits in the United States, and these programs continue at the rate of more than 2,000 per year.
The United States is the strongest supporter of small business development in Ukraine, as well as the largest and most active donor in the agricultural sector. We are intensely involved in energy issues, such as helping Ukraine make the Odesa-Brody pipeline a commercial reality. We have close and active military-to-military ties; indeed, Ukraine's bilateral military cooperation with the United States is more extensive than with any other country. Our support is focused on helping Ukraine become more secure, more prosperous and more democratic. It is completely consistent with the stated goals of the Ukrainian State.
As many of you know first-hand, Americans and Ukrainians are working together to help build civil society, strengthen education, develop the capacity of local self-government, and to try to solve such difficult problems as the spread of HIV/AIDS and the illegal trafficking of persons.
Let me say a few words about illegal trafficking in persons and the threat of HIV/AIDS, since young people, the people who are in your care, are particularly vulnerable. Secretary of State Colin Powell has highlighted these issues as national security issues for the world; by destroying the lives of our cherished young people they put our own future at risk. I hope you will use your leadership positions to educate and protect your students from such horrors. They deserve the opportunities before them. Indeed, Ukrainians and Americans now have unprecedented opportunities to know each other better. Today there are ties that would have been unimaginable only a decade ago: Sister Cities, university partnerships, Community Partnerships, school partnerships, as well as thousands of professional and personal relationships between individuals.
Another Historic Choice
It is in the context of opportunity that Ukraine faces another historic choice: integration with the Euro-Atlantic Community. European security after World War II was characterized by dividing lines that framed five decades of global politics. Our challenge today is to tear down those dividing lines, and one-by-one nations are stepping up to this challenge. On November 21, NATO invited seven nations to become new members. The European Union is opening its door to ten new members. Europe is expanding. The dividing lines of the past are being relegated to history. Yet sadly, at this historic moment, the gap between Ukraine and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations has only grown larger.
To be sure, on May 23 Ukraine declared that it sought eventual full membership with the Euro-Atlantic Community. But as Ukraine's neighbors to the West aggressively tackled political and economic reforms, at best Ukraine has stood still. Some would argue Ukraine has moved backwards.
Some of the reasons for the growing gap between Ukraine and its neighbors are understandable. For the first three months of this year, Ukraine prepared for parliamentary elections. It took almost another two months to select the Rada's leadership. Even now in December, the strength of the majority remains to be tested. All year, the government worked under a cloud of uncertainty. Now a new government must define and advance its agenda. But in a broader European context, the result has been clear. As Ukraine's neighbors vied to demonstrate their adherence to the Euro-Atlantic community's political, economic and security standards, policy reform in Ukraine lost a full year to internal politics.
The economic policy agenda facing Ukraine is well known to the Ukrainian government and the parliament. In many ways, the credibility of the next generation of political leaders is at stake. In 2000 and 2001, Ukrainians realized that a sound budget and reduced regulation can stimulate business activity, allow more capital to go to the private sector, and ensure the payment of salaries and wages. At the end of 2002, however, shortfalls in revenue are again forcing the government to borrow and hinder the government in meeting its commitments to education, health care, and pensions.
The key to strengthening Ukraine's fiscal position is tax reform. The tax burden falls too heavily on too few enterprises, mainly in the private sector, while the largest state enterprise in the energy sector remains the biggest debtor to the budget. This limits the amount of money the government can collect and stifles development of the most dynamic sector of the economy. More broadly, passing the civil code and strengthening the rule of law in Ukraine are fundamental to EU and WTO membership and attracting private investment.
One of the obstacles to Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations is the growing state pressure on freedom of the press. Ukrainian officials have stated that the question of freedom of speech is a domestic concern. We agree.
The right of a people to speak out through a free press is a hallmark of a democratic society. If Ukrainian officials do not abide by this standard, their calls for Euro-Atlantic integration will ring hollow -- a facade of words devoid of meaning.
Ukrainians themselves share this concern. According to a recent poll by the Razumkov Center, nearly three-quarters of all Ukrainians think there is political censorship in Ukraine. Three-quarters of Ukrainians believe that media are not able to air or print critical stories about criminal clans, while more than 70 percent think stories critical of the Presidential
Administration will have negative consequences for media outlets.
Some in Ukraine argue that censorship cannot exist if one can see criticism of Ukrainian authorities in the media. This is not the standard for press freedom embodied by the Council of Europe and the OSCE, nor is it the standard that Ukraine has adopted as its own. Article 34 of the Ukrainian Constitution states that: "Everyone is guaranteed the right to freedom of thought and speech, and to the free expression of his or her views and beliefs." The Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which Ukraine ratified in 1997, similarly states in Article 10 that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.
This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers..." To be clear: the standard adopted by Ukraine is non-interference, not whether the authorities are criticized in the press.
To be sure, the murders of high-profile journalists such as Heorhiy Gongadze and Ihor Alexandrov have cast a pall over the media sector. But, as the Rada hearings on free speech on December 4 made clear, the constraints on the media are even broader and more current. Let me cite some examples. So-called Temnyky, acknowledged by all and admitted to by none, told media what to cover and what not to cover prior to demonstrations in September.
Broadcast stations have been told not to show specific news clips because they contained the wrong message. Centrally-sponsored videotapes are regularly sent to national and regional stations with "correct" political messages. The Prosecutor General's Office denied accreditation to Ukrayinska Pravda for the "tone" of its writing, although nothing official was provided in writing. On December 5, ten journalists, including reporters of UT-1, 1+1, Inter, STB, and Fakty, walked out of the press conference of the Deputy Prosecutor General and the Kiev Prosecutor in protest.
While the attack on media freedoms is of great concern, the spirited response by journalists all over Ukraine is a sign that civil society is consolidating in Ukraine. These individuals have understood that it is up to them to ensure media freedom in Ukraine, that it is up to them to protect this most important of liberties. Two years ago, I do not think that reporters would have risked losing their jobs, formed an independent trade union, and played a leading role in parliamentary hearings that for the first time ever were carried live on national TV.
The so-called Kolchuga affair has unfortunately arisen in the midst of this complicated domestic climate. It has exacerbated a crisis of confidence at the top between Ukraine and the United States. It caused NATO to act unanimously to downgrade the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Prague from what could have been a triumphant summit to a ministerial gathering. Because of the extensive misinformation about this issue, let me provide a few facts.
In September, the United States Government advised the Ukrainian Government that it had authenticated a recording of a July 10, 2000 conversation between President Kuchma and Mr. Malev that authorizes the transfer of the Kolchuga passive detection system to Iraq. The Kolchuga issue is important to us because it affects the safety of American and British pilots patrolling the Iraq "no-fly" zones. Just imagine: how could we face the mother of a pilot killed because of this system, and tell her that we never followed up because it was not diplomatically convenient. Moreover, the decision to transfer the system to a country that has consistently violated international law and human rights seems to contradict Ukraine's stated commitment to a "European choice."
Experts at the FBI's Electronic Research Facility conducted a laboratory analysis of the original recording and the original recording device provided by Mykola Melnychenko. The recording was reviewed numerous times using a range of technical and audio techniques that together can determine if a digital recording has been manipulated or distorted. The experts concluded that the recording is genuine and has not been altered. They detected no breaks in the recording, found no manipulation of the digital files, and detected no unusual sounds that would have been present if the recording had been tampered with. Three United States Government departments confirmed that the recording includes the voice of President Kuchma. They indicated that it would be implausible that a conversation such as the one examined could be fabricated, even with highly sophisticated electronic equipment.
We are aware that some private groups have conducted analyses of copies of some of Mr. Melnychenko's recordings, but we have not been involved in such analyses and cannot comment on them. The Ukrainian Government has told the United States Government that it conducted an analysis of a recording of the conversation between President Kuchma and Mr. Malev, but the Ukrainian Government admitted that it reproduced this recording from a version that is available on the internet; that is, it did not examine the original recording. There has also been some confusion in the press about the use of the words "recording" and "tape." Regarding the conversation between President Kuchma and Mr. Malev, the FBI's analysis was done on the original digital "recording" of that conversation, and not on a "tape."
Some have asked why we have not provided the recording to the Ukrainian authorities. First, the Ukrainian authorities knew their analysis of an internet copy would have no credibility; the fact that it was done for political purposes underscores that any information we might provide will be manipulated. Second, senior Ukrainian officials have repeatedly suggested that the conversation took place, but the real issue is whether there was a transfer. Hence, senior Ukrainian authorities show little concern over authorizing a military transfer in violation of UN sanctions.
Did an actual transfer of the Kolchuga system to Iraq occur? From the beginning of this episode, the United States Government has said that, while we are certain of the authenticity of the July 10, 2000 recording, we do not know whether the transfer actually did occur. There is some information available to us that suggests it may have occurred. Ukrainian authorities invited a team of U.S. and British experts to Ukraine to establish that a transfer did not take place. Faced with incomplete access to important documents and serious gaps in documentation in violation of Ukraine's export control process, the team was unable to rule out the possibility of a transfer of the Kolchuga system to Iraq. In particular, the team was not permitted to see the full investigation reports the Government of Ukraine informed us had already been completed by the National Security and Defense Council, the Security Service of Ukraine, and the Office of the Prosecutor General, as well as key contractual documents. Access to these documents, in full, had been promised to the team and was later denied.
The team also found serious flaws in the way that Ukraine's export control system is implemented. While Ukraine's export control system is supposed to have checks and balances, such checks either were not exercised or they were not documented, precluding a reconstruction of the events surrounding the authorization to sell the Kolchuga system in July 2000. Thus, the question of whether a transfer took place must remain open. Moreover, if further investigation by the United Nations is to prove useful, the Ukrainian Government must first decide whether it will make available documentation denied to the U.S.-UK team. Otherwise, a United Nations team will face the same obstacles in assessing the question of a transfer as were faced by the team from the United States and United Kingdom.
The Way Forward
Whatever the eventual resolution of the Kolchuga issue, the main challenge will be to re-establish the trust that is essential to building and sustaining any meaningful, long-term relationship. In principle, there are two choices on how we move forward on U.S.-Ukrainian relations. One is to leave doors open to possibilities for engagement, and allow those possibilities to create new dynamics for cooperation. The other option is to say that our views are too divergent and foreclose stronger engagement between our nations. For the United States, the latter makes no sense for U.S. interests, for Ukraine, or for the kind of Europe that we are hoping to shape. We will continue to pursue a broad strategy of engagement with Ukraine.
In September, the United States began a broad policy review of its relations with Ukraine. We continued this assessment while I was in Washington last week. In many ways, this review will be ongoing. We need to keep assessing incremental progress or backsliding, and then decide how best to respond. Several key points, however, are already clear.
First, we must make clear that state-level authorization of military transfers to Iraq will exact a price. Moreover, it is incumbent on all nations to strengthen their export control systems. If Ukraine is willing to renew cooperation with the United States on export controls that work in practice and not just look good on paper, we are prepared.
Second, we are ready to engage broadly with Ukrainian officials to support the types of reforms that can advance Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration. In October, the United States welcomed, indeed argued for in the face of initial Ukrainian resistance, a meeting between Defense Minister Shkidchenko and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. We are ready to receive first Deputy Prime Minister Azarov at senior government levels in January. We have stated our desire to continue our bilateral committees on economics, foreign policy and defense issues. We propose to continue effective trilateral policy meetings with Ukraine and Poland.
Third, we continue to maintain strong military-to-military engagement. This is reflected in dozens of annual bilateral activities and major exercises such as "Peace Shield," "Sea Breeze," and "Rough and Ready," as well as assistance for Ukraine's participation in "Partnership-for-Peace." We maintain our support for Ukraine's development of its Rapid Reaction Forces, and for military reforms that will allow interoperability with NATO and European forces.
Fourth, we will maintain and deepen, as opportunities allow, our support for Ukrainian civil society. Even while we continue to review assistance programs that benefit the central government, we will continue our assistance for local and regional government, small business development, land titling, strengthening civil society, independent media, and nonproliferation. On November 8, we announced a new $300,000 competition for grants to monitor human rights and media freedom. We are willing to do more, but the Ukrainian government must allow it. For example, after a year of negotiation, the Ministry of Economy and European Integration has still not approved the registration of projects with the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute to improve openness and competition in the political system. The message this sends to the American Congress is that Ukraine fears transparency.
Fifth, we will engage Ukraine through multilateral channels to help Ukraine deepen its ties with Euro-Atlantic and global institutions. At the top of the list are the World Trade Organization and NATO.
Let me say a few words about NATO,
because the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan approved at Prague presents a unique opportunity. When you think about NATO, you probably first think of a military alliance, and you would be correct. But it is a military alliance of countries based on a common commitment to shared values. What is NATO defending, if not democracy, freedom, the rule of law, and the free market in its member countries? How can an organization that makes decisions based on consensus function if its members do not share a commitment to the same fundamental principles? It would be contradictory and self-defeating to include members who are not committed to these fundamental values.
The Ukrainian Government, well aware of what integration with European structures means, included the following in its core objectives in the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan: strengthen democratic and electoral institutions, strengthen judicial authority and independence, promote the continued development of civil society, fight corruption, money laundering and illegal economic activities. That is the road to NATO and European integration. It is a choice for bold political and economic reform.
If one looks at the history of NATO's enlargement, political issues have been the most fundamental factor in determining a country's ability to accede to membership. This was true in Spain and hinged on Spain's ability to overcome fascism. It was true with Greece and Turkey and the importance of those two countries reaching a political understanding. It was true in Poland, particularly in Poland's taking a strong stand against anti-Semitism. It is true now in the countries invited in Prague to become NATO members, which had to face tough issues such as how they handled minority rights, corruption, and non-proliferation.
And it will be true in Ukraine, as Ukraine contemplates the steps it needs to take toward NATO integration. NATO membership brings promise and privilege. It also means that each member country accepts the responsibilities of democracy. This mandate includes freedom of speech, the rule of law, a genuinely free and transparent electoral process, and adherence to international nonproliferation standards. These will be fundamental to the dialogue that will take place between NATO and Ukraine, not because Ukraine is being singled out, but because these are common expectations of all Alliance countries. There is no side door to NATO where shared values do not matter. There are no exceptions, there are no expedient "short-cuts." Ukraine's choice to integrate into Europe is just that -- a choice made from the heart, a choice made without conditions or reservations because Ukraine truly believes the West is where it belongs.
The United States supports Ukraine's aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration. When we look at Ukraine, we see its great potential, we see the bright vision many Ukrainians have of Ukraine's future, and we know both rationally and in our hearts that this bright vision is achievable, that Ukrainians deserve nothing less than a democratic, prosperous, sovereign and secure nation fully integrated into Europe. When we see the enormous talent, creativity, tolerance and common sense of the Ukrainian people, we believe in your success. The challenge is getting from the present to that future we all know is possible.
Let me close with a reflection on the people in this room. You truly have the opportunity to shape your own future, as well as the future of this country. You are already doing so. Just in the past year, I have seen significant growth of the civil society and of Ukrainian citizens taking on the responsibility for their own future. We saw this in the high level of involvement of NGOs and citizens' groups in the Parliamentary elections in March, and in the election results themselves, which showed that politics in Ukraine has moved to the center, rejecting extremes of left and right. We see it today, in the actions of courageous journalists who are fighting for media freedom. I am inspired by the actions of ordinary Ukrainians and it makes me optimistic about Ukraine's long-term future.
You are helping to form the next generation, the next set of leaders, whether it be in business or in government. Set an example, because the youth of this country will follow you. You are building Ukraine's civil society. Challenge these young Ukrainians in your care to maintain their rights. That's a tremendous responsibility, but at the same time it's an enormous opportunity. The future of your country is in your hands.
December 12, 2002
ArtUkraine.com Information Service (ARTUIS)
Kyiv, Ukraine and Washington, D.C.
E. Morgan Williams, Publisher
Vol. 10, Issue No. 29/2003