Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter of the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko to the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev

Respected Dmitry Anatolyevych,

I have perused your letter of 6 August 2009. Straightforwardly speaking, I am very disappointed with its unfriendly nature.

I agree that there are serious problems in the relations between our countries, but your absolute denial of Russia's responsibility for them surprises me.

Our state has never betrayed the principles of friendship and partnership fixed in the Agreement of 1997, was doing its best to ensure fruitful and mutually beneficial development of bilateral relations. Moreover, in accordance with the abovementioned agreement our countries were to build up relations with each other based on principles of mutual respect and sovereign equality.

Yet, I would like to set aside the emotions and proceed to the objective analysis of the state of bilateral relations.

Ukraine's position on last year's events in Georgia is well known and coincides with positions of almost all other countries of the world. Its core is indisputable respect towards sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of Georgia or any other sovereign state.

The accusations of supplies of weapons to Georgia are groundless. It's a shame that despite numerous clear and comprehensible explanations of the legality of its activity at arms market from the Ukrainian side, the Russian side continues the consecutive campaign aimed at shaping image of Ukraine as a state that does not obey international regulations and regimes in the sphere of military technical cooperation. In this regard I would like to remind that Georgia has never been and is still not a subject to any international sanctions or embargo on supplies of arms, military equipment and dual use goods imposed by either the UN Security Council, OSCE, European Union or other international organizations. Moreover, the proposition to impose such restrictions within the framework of the OSCE, made by Russia after the Russian-Georgian conflict, found no support.

Ukraine's NATO integration course may not be subject to Russia's political criticism either. It forces us to again repeat the common truth that the right to choose international means of ensuring one's national security, including the participation in military-political alliances, is an integral part of national sovereignty of any state and Russia has to respect that. I would like to remind you that the Law of Ukraine "On foundations of national security of Ukraine" approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in 2003 with support from leadership of current opposition provides for integration of Ukraine with NATO up to full-fledged membership. The President of Ukraine follows that.

Also would like to once again emphasize that the desire of our country to gain membership in NATO is in no way aimed against Russia and that final decision on accession of Ukraine to NATO will be made only after a national referendum.

I would like to point out separately that Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine prohibits deployment of foreign states' military bases at the Ukrainian territory. Yet, our state keeps up to its international treaty obligations on the temporary deployment of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine until May 28, 2017 and fully complies with provisions of the relevant basic agreements of 1997. On the other hand I am forced to admit serious problems in compliance of the Russian side with the basic agreements regarding use of land, real estate, radio frequencies, navigation equipment, etc. Throughout the period of deployment of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia in Ukraine its command has been rudely and systematically violating the bilateral agreements and legislation of Ukraine and the Ukrainian side has been constantly informing the Russian side about that.

Ukraine consistently supports the development of pragmatic economic relations with Russia, especially in energy field. Ukraine has started a program of modernization of its gas transport system to bring it to the highest international standards and is ready to invite the potential of European countries and of other parties to the process. Our country has many times proved in practice its reliability as a partner in the transportation of energy resources: gas, oil and nuclear energy fuel. Ukraine was one of the few countries in the world, which in June this year welcomed the initiative of the Russian Federation to start a multilateral dialogue on improving international legal framework in energy security that in our opinion should be based upon the Energy Charter and other relevant documents.

Your letter also repeats regular and well-known accusations aimed at depriving Ukraine of its view of its own history, our own national interests, foreign policy priorities. I am convinced that such questions as history, along with native language, culture, and family ethics are fundamental principles for development of the state and identification of the Ukrainian nation.

By raising the question of recognition of the Holodomor in Ukraine of 1932-1933 at the international scene the Ukrainian people also pays tribute to millions of Russians, Belarusians, Kazakhs and representatives of other nationalities, who died of starvation in the Volga region, Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan and other parts of former USSR. It is known that during the "Light the candle" campaign dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor in Ukraine burning candles in hundreds of cities worldwide, including in Russia, proved multi-ethnic solidarity with Ukraine in recognition of the fact.

In no way I can agree with the allegation about ousting of Russian language from public life in Ukraine. Elementary impartial evaluations of the language situation in Ukraine and Russia show completely opposite facts. It is in the Russian Federation, where members of Ukrainian minority have virtually no ability to realize the right to fulfill their national and cultural needs. The well-known findings of international organizations prove that.

Responding to concerns about alleged intervention of the Ukrainian government in the affairs of Orthodox Church, I would like to note the following. The Ukrainian leadership respects canons and traditions of churches and religious organizations. Church in Ukraine is separated from the state; each citizen has the right to profess any religion. However, no one may prohibit the citizens to freely express their position on any issues, including those religious.

Regarding the visit of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Cyril to Ukraine it is worth mentioning that he expressed words of gratitude to the leadership of our nation for the high level of organization of his stay in Ukraine. And of course, the Russian Orthodox Church Prior did not make any negative or critical remarks similar to those contained in your letter and discrediting the very spirit of the visit. Generally speaking, we consider the connections between the visit of Patriarch Cyril and bilateral political relations to be wiredrawn and irrelative.

Speaking about the forced decision of the Ukrainian side regarding the two diplomatic representatives of Russia, it should be emphasized that before making such a step we have three times officially argued to the Russian side about the wrongful actions of the abovementioned senior diplomats. The Ukrainian party has provided sufficient evidence of their activities in Ukraine, which harmed national interests of Ukraine. On the other hand, the responsive actions of the Russian side against the Ukrainian diplomat were totally unjustified and baseless. I hope that in the future our two countries will manage to avoid recurrence of such unfortunate situations, which cast shadow over bilateral relations.

Summarizing the listed, I would like to express my conviction that solving current problems in Ukrainian-Russian bilateral relations requires intensive work. Therefore the decision to postpone the arrival of the new Russian Ambassador to Ukraine will certainly not contribute to constructive development of our relations.

Ukraine remains a supporter of broad cooperation with the Russian Federation based upon mutual respect and equality, by means of maintaining constructive dialogue, including that at the highest level. At least three times last year I have proved my willingness to engage in dialogue at the negotiating table in my letters to you. Today this call still applies. Unfortunately, in response to that I only received invitations to take part in the race for the prize of the President of Russia or other multilateral arrangements. I hope that this time your response will be constructive.

I believe in good future of Ukrainian-Russian relations, which are based on the deep tradition of friendship and neighborliness between the peoples of our two countries that are stronger than the interests of certain political circles and not influenced by situational conditions of political moment.

Viktor Yushchenko