The following article was contributed by Ambassador Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine in Seoul for publication on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of Independence of his country.?Ed.
August 24th of 2014 marks the 23rd anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine. On this festive day the Ukrainian nation honours its historic choice, made on August 24, 1991, when the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine declared independence of the Ukrainian State. This prominent event became a “starting point” of our country’s modern history.
Every year this day marks a new reference point, a measurement of progress and challenges. And 2014 is not an exception.
This year Ukraine is probably coming through the most difficult challenges in the days of its independence ? fighting for its territorial integrity, fighting for its sovereignty.
Since the end of February Ukraine has been faced unprecedented challenges ? active phase of aggression actions by the neighboring Russian Federation.
The country which twenty years ago in exchange for nuclear weapons promised to take care of the sovereignty of Ukraine, contrary to the Great Agreement between Ukraine and Russia, contrary to the Budapest Memorandum which promised peace in exchange for the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, became the aggressor and destroyed the stability of this region.
As you are well aware, in March Russia illegally annexed Crimea, an integral part of Ukrainian territory. Almost whole civilized World expresses its indignation concerning territorial aggression against Ukraine and doesn’t recognize this act of international crime. It is confirmed by the results of the voting at the meeting of the UN General Assembly on March 27, 2014, where 100 UN member states supported the Resolution “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
After the annexation of Crimea, the Russian Federation went over to the next stage of the aggressive actions in Ukraine and launched a covert operation in the country’s East, backing the separatism movement.
Unfortunately, Russia has become the supporter of terrorism in Ukraine at the state level in times when the Russian citizens regularly suffer from terrorist attacks on their territory.
As a result, today we are witnessing violence and criminal activities of the illegal armed groups, suffering of innocent civilians, This year is also marked for Ukraine by the signing the Association Agreement with the European Union. The political clause of this document was signed on March 21 and the economic one ? on June 27, 2014.
In the course of seven years Ukraine has passed through the thorny road towards the political association and economic integration with the EU.
This milestone event became the response to the aspiration of the People of Ukraine and starting point for the new phase in the history of Ukraine - the nation-building phase based on the European values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
Having signed the Association Agreement with the EU, Ukraine has strengthened its position in the modern system of international relations as a reliable and predictable partner, and as country which has been developing on the basis of generally accepted democratic principles.
The core value of the Association Agreement for Ukraine is that fact, that this document is a clear reforms plan for all spheres of public life according to European model, including government transparency and an effective market economy.
Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU is the key element of the Association Agreement. Introduction the FTA with the EU will mutually open markets, enhance the trust and interest of investors in Ukraine, and intensify trade and economic ties. We also expect the growth of real GDP.
Association Agreement is an important step towards achieving the strategic goal of Ukraine - full membership in the EU.
To characterize the current relationships between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea I would like mention an old Korean legend which says that mountains and seas cannot separate people, especially their hearts, if they are to be together.
Nowadays strengthening cooperation with the Republic of Korea is one of the major priorities of the Ukrainian foreign policy in the North East Asia.
We evaluate positively the dynamic development of a political dialogue with Korea that affirms the willingness of both sides to maintain a sustainable enhancement of relations and demonstrates our readiness to intensively deepen and widen the current cooperation.
In this regard it is worth to note that the Republic of Korea`s principle stand and support in preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine both on the bilateral level as well as in the United Nations is highly appreciated in Ukraine.
For 22 years, since the launching of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and the Republic of Korea, the two countries have been dynamically developing cooperation in all spheres of mutual interest ? the political dialogue, trade, economic and financial cooperation have been expanding, cultural and humanitarian contacts have been deepening, scientific and technical as well as educational cooperation has been strengthening, the number of tourism and youth exchanges has been increasing. All these achievements help us to understand each other better, to develop an optimal model of our cooperation and to look into the future confidently.
During the years of cooperation Ukraine and the Republic of Korea have established a number of institutional mechanisms that play an important role in expanding our relations. Among them ? the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economy (upgraded from Joint Committee on Trade), the Joint Committee on Science and Technology, political consultations between Foreign Ministries etc.
But, on the other hand, we still have a lot of opportunities for promoting our cooperation in the spheres of economy and investment, science and technology, culture and education.
I would like to note that Ukraine, as a huge market with a population of 46 million people, has many attractions for Korean investor. In this regard, we are interested in establishing and continue investment cooperation with leading Korean companies.
At present, the main areas for investment by Korean companies are agriculture, energy and infrastructure. Bearing this in mind it is worth mentioning that the possible conditions of participation of KOGAS and Daewoo International Corporation in implementation of the National Project of Ukraine “LNG-terminal” are currently being elaborated. Daewoo International is also continuing to explore opportunities to invest in agricultural sector.
As an example of the successful investment in Ukraine is the project by Samsung Electronics, which established modern IT-centers in Kyiv and Kharkiv, employing more than 2 thousand of Ukrainian specialists.
Every year international cultural activities that take place in Korea attract more and more representatives of Ukraine.
We are pleased to note that participation of Andriy Pysariev, ballet dancer of the Taras Shevchenko Ukraine National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, as a star guest in the VII Korea International Ballet Competition (May 2014) and the concerts of the Donetsk State Prokofiev Philharmonic Symphonic Orchestra during its tour in the Republic of Korea (June-July 2014) were warmly accepted by the Korean audience.
We expect that the first ever visit of the President of Korea Ms. Park Geun-hye to Ukraine at the invitation of the President of Ukraine Mr. Petro Poroshenko will be the milestone event in bilateral relations that contribute the further bosting cooperation between two countries in all spheres of mutual interest.
Celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine, we are looking forward into the future of Ukraine with optimism, no matter what hardship we are suffering. We will withstand all the challenges and together with our partners Ukraine will be much stronger while Ukrainians, who are a truly European nation, who sharing European values, realize them.
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