The following article was contributed by Chargé d'Affaires Taras Fedunkiv of Ukraine in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of independence of Ukraine.—Ed.
On August 24, Ukrainian nation celebrates its most important national holiday – Independence Day of Ukraine. On this day in 1991, the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine that led to the emergence of a modern Ukrainian state.
Declaration of Independence crowned a centuries-old struggle of Ukrainians for the right to have their own state, to develop freely their national culture, to be a full member of the international community.
National independence has simultaneously brought individual rights and freedoms to people, having put an end to the Soviet totalitarian system. Establishment of a new independent Ukraine has occurred in parallel with strengthening democracy and building a socially oriented market economy.
In the global arena, Ukraine, from the very beginning of its existence, has acted as a peace-loving country that professes democratic civilization values, respects the principles and norms of international law and seeks mutually beneficial cooperation with all members of the international community.
Ukraine makes a significant contribution to strengthening international peace and security. Ukraine was the first country in the world that voluntarily renounced powerful nuclear arsenal, inherited from the Soviet Union. For a quarter of a century, we have been active participants in almost all major international peacekeeping missions.
Today Ukraine relives crucial times. The 2014 Revolution of Dignity and the ongoing unprecedented aggression by Russian Federation forced democratic transformations in the Ukrainian society. Driven by the desire to bring living standards of the Ukrainian citizens to the standards of developed European countries, we have been working on improving every aspect of our life.
There is a huge amount of reforms that are underway or being launched. Areas of focus include security and defense, judicial, law enforcement, anti-corruption, pension, education, financial, health care and many other spheres. Together they represent the most comprehensive reform agenda since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
We are not dreamers and clearly realize – systematic reforming is a hard way and needs a lot of work and time. But first results have already been achieved.
The newly created anti-corruption institutions started their work. Among them was the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption that launched the electronic income declaration mechanism by officials from September 1, 2016. The agency’s work in 2016 resulted in the opening of 280 criminal cases and returning of more than 100 million UAH to the state budget.
The declaration of revenues and expenditures is mandatory for all categories of civil servants without exception. The register of real estate property rights and the register of vehicles are open for the public. It gives another lever of control for society over the illegal enrichment of officials.
The Law of Ukraine “On National Police” is effectively implemented. 32 Ukrainian cities have already got their newly formed police forces. The new Act “On the Judiciary and Status of Judges” established new ethical principles of work, professional and qualification requirements for judges.
The defense budget of Ukraine has doubled. Up to date five NATO Standardization Agreements (STANAGs) have been concluded and 12 NATO military standards are being implemented. Ukrainian Army becomes professional while 70,000 people signed a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Ukraine belongs to an elite group of nine countries possessing a full cycle of aircraft manufacturing and has a leading place in the world market, particularly in the sector of transport and regional passenger aviation. In March 2017, a new aircraft of Antonov plant An-132D that was made entirely without Russian parts completed its first flight.
Ukraine is among five countries with a closed cycle of space rocket production. Ukrainian enterprises own 17 of the 22 technologies in this area and participate in 50 international projects.
The number of Ukrainian startups increased by 237% compared to 2014. The technological innovation solutions made in Ukraine in the field of management, cyber security, banking and financial operations are in great demand on the global market.
The growth of Ukraine’s GDP in 2016 amounted to 2.2% compared to 2015. Ukraine has risen in the world rankings: 32 positions up in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rating, 25 positions up in the United Nations E-Government Development Index, 16 positions up in the “Strength of Investors Protection” of the World Economic Forum’s global index of competitiveness.
The National Investment Council of Ukraine was established to elaborate proposals for overcoming the key obstacles for investment in Ukraine.
A full-cycle electronic system of public procurement «ProZorro» was put into operation.
Irrespective of current challenges caused by Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas, reforms in Ukraine are being successfully drafted, publicly discussed and widely implemented. We fully cooperate with international institutions in the process of reforming.
Ukraine’s progress has been recognized and noted by our international partners all over the world.
Since gaining independence in 1991 Ukraine has been developing mutually beneficial and effective partnership with the Republic of Korea.
South Korea was one of the states that recognized Ukraine’s independence as far back as in December 1991. On February 10, 1992, “The Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea” was signed. This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.
Nowadays strengthening cooperation with the Republic of Korea is one of the major priorities of the Ukrainian foreign policy in the North East Asia.
Over last quarter century, our countries have managed to establish and maintain productive political dialogue at all levels. Bilateral legal framework covers all fields of our cooperation. We have a significant potential of investment cooperation, particularly in infrastructure, agriculture, construction, metallurgy, energy, science and technology, tourism. There are good prospects for further broadening cultural and humanitarian ties, scientific and educational exchanges. Moreover, both countries share similar or close stances on major global issues including non-proliferation, climate change, energy issues, combating terrorism etc. Sharing values of fundamental freedoms and democracy, we are united in the desire to contribute to international peace and security.
In terms of further deepening political dialogue and forging strategic partnership between our countries, we will be working on arranging the visit of the President of the Republic of Korea to Ukraine, which will be the first one in bilateral history.
Our bilateral trade peaked with remarkable $2.67 billion in 2008 and extended 8-fold in 1994-2014 showing promising potential for future growth.
Ukrainian-made carrier rocket «Dnipro» successfully put into orbit three South Korean satellites – KOMPSAT-5, STSAT-3, KOMPSAT-3A.
As Ukraine strives for massive reconstruction and modernization of its infrastructure, energy sector, in a foreseeable future it would remain a promising recipient of Korean investment, equipment and technologies. Meanwhile, Ukrainian agricultural production would gradually extend its presence at Korean market. At the same time, we should prioritize more sophisticated joint projects in aviation and space areas, electronics, new materials, ICT, nano- and biotechnologies, green-energy domain. With more high value added products, trajectory of our economic interaction would become more stable while bringing mutual benefits to both countries.
To further promote tourism, business and people-to-people contacts, we should complete the process of liberalizing visa regime between the two countries (providing visa-free entry to the Republic of Korea for Ukrainian nationals as Ukraine did for Koreans back in 2006). Establishing a direct flight between Kyiv and Seoul would be also very helpful in this regard.
Among promising areas for further strengthening of bilateral cooperation are ICT in education, e-government, media sphere.
Celebrating the 26th anniversary of our independence, we look confidently into the future, building a new, democratic European state.
We know that further consolidation of state sovereignty and democracy, development of a competitive market economy, active participation in the life of the world community, European integration prospects of our state are a reliable guarantee of Ukraine’s prosperity and its future membership in the family of the peoples of united Europe.
Marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, we are ready to put our every effort to bring those relationships to a qualitatively new level.