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Powell Remarks En Route to Kiev

Remarks En Route to Kiev

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Kiev, Ukraine
January 22, 2005

SECRETARY POWELL: (inaudible) Yushchenko's inauguration. It's going to be a historic moment for the Ukrainian people. They've been through some difficult times, especially during the last three months. The international community is pleased that it's been resolved in a peaceful manner, and solved in a way that the will of the Ukrainian people has been determined and that's the defining force for the resolution of this political crisis that they've gone through. And I'm pleased to head a delegation in the name of President Bush and the American people. As you may have heard, President Bush spoke to President Yushchenko this morning. They had a good conversation. President Bush, of course, pledged our continuing support to Ukraine. He hopes to see President Yushchenko in the not-too-distant future. And they talked about democracy, the democratic process, and I expect in my conversations tomorrow we'll have the chance to talk about economic reform and considerations with respect to the WTO and also greater involvement in the transatlantic partnership. I'll stop there.

QUESTION: You know it's no secret that Putin seemed to favor Yanukovych, that (inaudible) wanted to keep Ukraine in kind of a Russian orbit. Do you see the outcome of this as like scoring points against them?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we were never going about this for the purpose of scoring points nor do I think the Ukrainians were doing it to score points. All we were interested in was for the Ukrainian people to be given an opportunity to freely choose their new president, their new government. And they got that opportunity. The international community, the United States, the European Union, particularly President Kwasniewski and President Adamkus, and the leadership role they played, spoke out clearly and strongly on this. Throughout the period of tension in November and December I stayed in close touch with my Russian colleagues. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and I talked on a regular basis. We understood each other's position. President Putin has now put out a statement indicating his support of the outcome of the president, his support of President Yushchenko, and President Yushchenko is planning on visiting Moscow on Monday.

So, I think that we all recognize that it is in Ukraine's best interest, and all of our best interest, for Ukraine to have good relations with both Russia and with the international community, the United States, and with all of its neighbors.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you, it's going to be a challenge, I think, for Mr. Yushchenko to translate this great civil action and this great fire in the belly that they had into, now, reform, and really move it forward in a political process. Now, what can we do to help him sustain that? And second, just, you're going to meet with President Kuchma tomorrow is that important to him, important to you, and where do you see him now going forward, his position?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think there are many things we could do to help them. We have experience in reform efforts; we have experience in the development of civil society, political institutions. The economy is doing reasonably well, and we hope we can enhance the performance of his economy, as well. We provide assistance. We can provide assistance to Ukraine. And there are other specific ideas I have that I'll be presenting to them tomorrow.

With respect to President Kuchma, he has now left office, stepped down. He is an important figure in Ukrainian history and in Ukrainian political life, and I think it's most appropriate for me to have a conversation with him, and see how he sees things, and what role he intends to play in private life, or in civic or political life.

QUESTION: Regarding the assistance I believe there is more money that is going to be going in a request to Congress, so that the United States government can actually increase its aid to Ukraine. Is that one way that you can help? And then, on the WTO, what is it specifically that you can be doing to force them along in that process?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will make clear to them the kinds of things that we're expecting and hoping to see happen with respect to intellectual property rights and other structural issues that they have to deal with. They know what these issues are, and now they have a new president who will have to take on these issues and resolve them. But we shouldn't let the challenges that are ahead in any way diminish the historic nature of tomorrow's inauguration. He's taking over with a great deal of energy, and with the best wishes of the Ukrainian people and the international community, and I think he fully understands the challenges that are ahead and that he has to deal with. The United States will help him.

QUESTION: And are you looking to give them more money to give Ukraine more money?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we will see what their needs are and discuss that with our Congress. We would like to give as much assistance as we can, but they also need investment assistance and investment comes from structural reform and making an investment climate that is favorable and friendly toward investment.

QUESTION: Sir, what's your Richard suggested that you would raise the issue of their future in Iraq? What do

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sure it will be a matter for discussion. It was touched on in the phone call this morning. And as they have said, and as President-elect Yushchenko has said, whatever they do, they'll do in full consultation with us.

QUESTION: When we got back from Sharm al-Sheik, it was a pretty grim picture, in terms of what was going on in Ukraine, and you issued a very strong statement the day after I think it was the morning we got back, wasn't it

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: While you guys were sleeping.

QUESTION: That's right!

(Laughter)

QUESTION: Did you expect that things could have worked out this well, at that moment? Tell me what

SECRETARY POWELL: Who knows how things will work out? But when we got back very late that night, I think it was three or four in the morning. But I realized that this situation was developing, and went into the office and after talking to my staff and talking with some of my other colleagues, I felt it was important that the United States get on the record, and do it quickly. The European Union was making some statements, and there was a great deal of interest in what the U.S. position would be. And I thought that it was important enough that I should go out and personally deliver the U.S. position, and essentially declared that what we had seen based on the report that we had also gotten from OSCE monitors and Senator Lugar, you'll recall, that the election was illegitimate, that it didn't have legitimacy.

And that appeared to be an important statement that galvanized international opinion and European opinion. And then we got into a process that included the United States, in the person of our Ambassador, John Herbst, who I think deserves a lot of credit for doing an excellent job during a period of high tension. And President Kwasniewski did a terrific job, as did President Adamkus and also, I have to give credit to Javier Solana, the High Representative of the European Union.

QUESTION: But it almost turned violent, as we've learned recently, I mean, it was almost a Soviet-style crackdown.

SECRETARY POWELL: We followed that evening very, very carefully, and were concerned. The Ambassador was monitoring it. He called me late at night, or late in the afternoon or evening, I don't remember exactly. And a lot of pressure was brought to bear. I tried to call President Kuchma that night, but he was not available, which turned out to be fine, because he was making sure that that situation did not get out of hand.

QUESTION: Did you talk to anybody else that night? Lavrov?

SECRETARY POWELL: The only one I was interested in was Kuchma. It was a moment of high tension. Nobody knew what was going to happen, and I reached out to him, to let him know what our view was. And frankly, we didn't need to have a connected phone call just the call, I think, made it clear to him what our view was. And then, the situation calmed down almost as quickly as it heated up, because nobody none of the security forces moved any further.

QUESTION: And that was the tensest moment? After you got past that, you felt like, "We've got a good strategy here," and uh

QUESTION: We just kept you never know. You sort of hope that things will get better things did get better. But I'm not going to say to you, I knew then that it was all going to work out. I went through this before, in Georgia, last November, you'll recall. Not quite the same, but I've watched both the Rose and the Orange Revolutions over the last three months no, I'm sorry November of the year before. Two thousand and three, when we had to work with the Russians on the departure of President Shevardnadze. And then people said, "Now what?" Well, we had an election six weeks later, and we supported it fully, and President Saakashvili was elected, and I hope he'll be here tomorrow. To have my rose friend and my orange friend.

(Laughter)

QUESTION: This is not a bad way to go out.

SECRETARY POWELL: Nope.

(Laughter)

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I've had a it's been a pretty good couple of weeks, with Sudan, and, uh, Sudan, and what we were able to do in the tsunami relief effort. This inauguration, as well as all the things you guys were with me on: OSCE, Forum for the Future, which was a tremendous success, even though there was, I think, too much focus in the press on the Palestinian issue. But it really was a successful forum, EU meetings and a number of other things that we've been doing during the last couple of months.

QUESTION: Thanks.

###

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