UKRAINE entered the international arena as a new state in 1991, after proclaiming Independence on August 24. A new chapter in its history started for a country with a population of 46 million and a sound economy.
Ukraine is one of the world’s major producers of grain, sugar and vegetable oil, as well as among the leaders in coal, iron ore and steel production.
One of the first tasks of the new Ukraine was to undertake economic, political, social and humanitarian reforms, with a view to establishing democratic and modern legal procedures affecting all spheres of life. Good examples are the law on the access of public information, the new law concerning the elections to the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, tax pension reforms and the national anti-corruption strategy for 2011-2015.
In the field of foreign policy, Ukraine had to face various challenges and efficiently respond to them, so as to secure the success of internal reforms. Within this framework, Ukraine has adopted key principles of foreign policy which cover development of mutually beneficial relations with neighbouring countries, as well as Europe and America, strengthening the economic component of its foreign policy so as to increase the standards of living of Ukrainian citizens, and non-participation in military-political alliances.
First among its foreign policy priorities is Ukraine’s European integration, as it considers the EU an optimal model for social and economic development. Ukraine and the EU have already initialled the Association Agreement that hopefully will be signed in the near future. The agreement establishes the transition from the principles of partnership and co-operation to a qualitatively new level of political association.
Having the experience of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, Ukraine showed accrued sensitivity to the events at Fukushima. The April 2011 Kiev Summit dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl demonstrated the high spirit of solidarity which exists on the issues of peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy. Moreover, being a staunch supporter of nuclear disarmament, Ukraine voluntarily abandoned arsenal of nuclear weapons, the third largest in the world.
In the field of international organisations, Ukraine remains one of the most active participants of peace-keeping missions under the auspices of the UN. It has presided for the first time over the works of the Council of Europe and in 2013 will assume the presidency of the OSCE, the regional security organisation of Europe. This is tangible evidence of the successful presence of Ukraine in the international arena and the overall appreciation it enjoys.
In the bilateral field, first and foremost Ukraine normalised its relations with Russia, an important neighbour and strategic partner. Relations with the USA, apart from co-operation in various other fields, concentrated on the strengthening of nuclear safety. Of great importance for Ukraine are its relations with China, which acquired a strategic nature, and the CIS countries with which a free trade area agreement has been signed. In the meantime, Ukraine continued strengthening its relations with the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Cyprus established diplomatic relations with Ukraine in February 1992. Ever since, political dialogue at the highest level and intensification of interparliamentary co-operation have deepened our bilateral relations. The first-ever visit of the president of Cyprus in July 2011 was considered of the outmost significance, and this week’s forthcoming visit of President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine to Cyprus is expected to contribute to the further advancement and expansion of the co-operation between the two countries in all areas of mutual interest. Upgrading the partnership between Cyprus and Ukraine on the basis of sincere friendship will certainly benefit the two countries and their people.