“I welcome you to Ukraine where freedom of expression, freedom of choosing one’s stand, and freedom of choice reign supreme. As a rule, the emergence of freedom is appreciated when it is absent. This is especially characteristic of postgenocidal, post-Soviet societies, of a society from which Ukraine originates and whose realities it is struggling to overcome.” President Yushchenko made the above statement in his opening address to the second international media forum “Ukraine on the Information Map of the World” on Nov. 16. After his speech the president answered questions from Ukrainian and foreign journalists.
NATO AND THE EU
The president assured his listeners that Ukraine’s policy on integration with the EU and NATO will remain unchanged: “We will continue to work consistently to bring us closer through integration with the EU and NATO.” Yushchenko pointed out that Ukraine must start implementing the program aimed at entering the European social and cultural space. This integration is to be regarded in the economic sense as well as in terms of rapprochement with European cultural and information values. He stressed that relations with the United States and major European partners of Ukraine - from London to Warsaw - are the highest priority along these lines.
Yushchenko noted that the law on the fundamentals of national security states in black and white that the Ukrainian nation’s political priority consists in integrating with the EU and NATO: “This norm was, is, and remains laid down in the Ukrainian legal field, being the key strategic foreign policy priority of this nation.”
Then the president of Ukraine made an unexpected statement. He made it clear that he is counting on Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to secure Ukraine’s integration with Euro-Atlantic structures: “I am relying on the prime minister to secure implementation of Ukraine’s foreign policy as declared by Ukrainian legislation.” He also noted that the political situation in Ukraine requires “certain time adjustments in the course of realizing this policy.”
President Yushchenko went on to say that for a long time there was a political crisis in Ukraine because after the elections it was a lengthy process to form a government. He reminded those present that a number of political forces, specifically the Party of Regions, took part in the elections armed with anti-NATO phraseology. “As president, I can understand that this government and prime minister may need a transitional period so they can have an opportunity to revise their tactic on this question,” he said, adding that the party needs time to alter its stand.
Ukraine will be advised of the date and time of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit this week. “Our foreign policy agencies are busy working out President Putin’s schedule in Ukraine. I hope we will have the time and date in a couple of days,” President Yushchenko said.
He further emphasized that Ukraine’s policy with regard to Russia is that which is practiced amongst equal and sovereign states. He said: “Our relations are having quite an impact on the political atmosphere of Europe. Therefore, such interaction must leave no room for blackmail, pressure, or compulsion...a constructive approach to the relations between Kyiv and Moscow is one of the priorities facing the commission over which I am presiding with President Putin of Russia.”
President Yushchenko spoke in favor of progress in Ukraine- Russia relations as another factor for securing stability in Europe as a whole. “Ukraine sees its life path along the lines of stability and democracy. This is precisely what Ukraine is proposing to Europe and the rest of the world.” This approach indicates a systemic vision of Ukraine’s foreign policy guidelines, the president said.
Yushchenko singled out four main points of these foreign policy guidelines: forming a safe and favorable international environment for Ukraine; Ukraine’s full- fledged integration into Europe and Euro-Atlantic security structures; economic cooperation; and cultural interaction.
For President Yushchenko the priority task is to improve the constitutional reform: “At this stage the model introduced into the new wording of the constitution has turned out to be nonconstructive. The government was engrossed in a jurisdictional tug of war. Power- wielding mechanisms must be improved.” The president also noted that he is expecting the recently formed constitutional commission to provide clearly formulated mechanisms that will allow power institutions to work effectively.
On the anniversary of the Orange Revolution President Yushchenko plans to address the nation. He noted that the organizing committee, Presidential Secretariat, and Our Ukraine together with its partners who took part in the revolution are working on the agenda of the Orange anniversary festivities.
The president hopes that this plan will be ready within three or four days. His message to the nation will be followed by cultural events on the Maidan. Yushchenko says that he has been offered several scenarios, including trips to various regions. “Of course, I have instructed my staff to prepare a busy schedule, including meetings with people who were on the Maidan and with journalists.”
As for Freedom Day, the president said that two years after the Orange Revolution Ukraine has traversed a road of which it can be proud: “Those two years that we lived through in Ukraine are something we can feel proud of; these years are worth our effort on the barricades.”