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Rice With Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko

Rice With Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Kiev, Ukraine
December 7, 2005

PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO: The center of the context of the meeting, we just concluded our bilateral negotiations in which we discussed our possible cooperation and our strategic partnership.

First of all, we tackled some of the issues related to the energy projects where American companies could participate and would be great to participate. We also discussed some of the issues related to the Jackson-Vanick Amendment. Right now, we are in the process of technological solution of this problem and the appropriate agreement was reached with the American side. We also discussed a possible project -- projects in the area of medicine. First of all, discussed the need to consolidate the efforts in combating the bird flu and some other issues that represent the interest of both sides.

We had consultations in the aerospace industry and we submitted a package of documents that will be thoroughly studied by the American side. We hope that the visit of the head of NASA organization that is expected to take place in the first half of the next year will result in signing the agreement in cooperation in the area of space exploration.

There is a good dynamics in our trade relations and we hope that dynamics will be accelerated after signing the protocol, and will ensure access to the commodities and services markets.

We share common views on what Ukraine has managed to do on accelerating its accession to WTO. I in general say that over the last four months, Ukraine made significant progress and the last issue that we tackled in the course of our negotiations was the market economy status. Some positive steps were made in this area. And we also submitted our explanations to some of the activities that were done in economy, in economic reforms, and we hope that our explanations will purely satisfy the American side.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President, for the warm welcome here. I have not been to Ukraine since 2001. A great deal has changed. And I have been very pleased to have discussions here on the further course of economic and political reform in Ukraine.

I do believe that we can accelerate the pace of our -- of the development of our economic relations, including our trade relations. We had talked about the steps that still need to be taken to get a WTO agreement, to get market status for the Ukrainian economy. But I believe that we are making good progress and we are certainly committed to Ukraine's full integration into the international economy and ultimately into Euro-Atlantic structures.

I have had the pleasure of meeting with the President and other members of his team, of course, my colleague, Mr. Tarasyuk, on a number of occasions, and I just want to say that America, of course, values of the friendship of Ukraine, a great strategic -- a strategic partner and an important country within Europe. And that we look forward to further work with this team that is so committed to democracy, so committed to Ukraine's future and most especially so committed to a better and more prosperous future for the Ukrainian people. Thank you.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, is the United States only obliged to prevent cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment to its detainees on U.S. territory?

SECRETARY RICE: Mr. President -- to answer this question. As you know, it's been an issue here on my trip. As a matter of U.S. policy, the United States obligations under the CAT, which prohibits, of course, cruel and inhumane and degrading treatment, those obligations extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States.

QUESTION: My question is to Ms. Rice. The Ukrainian Government is hoping to get market economy status from United States already in February. Do you think those hopes are realistic? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. We are certainly hopeful that we can move the market economy status talks forward. I have to note that this is a matter that the Commerce Department has very strict rules and a set of obligations that must be met before that status can be extended, but we are working very hard. We are hoping to have Commerce Department representatives here again to work. We want very much to see the Ukrainian economy succeed. This would be at an important step forward. And as soon as Ukraine can meet those criteria, then we will be ready to grant market economy status. And so it is our hope that this can happen very soon indeed.

QUESTION: Mr. Yushchenko, a year after your revolution, your government is in disarray and your economy is stagnant. Have you told Secretary Rice what you plan to do to turn this around?

And, Madame Secretary, as you know, Russia is in the process of passing a law that would restrict American-backed and other NGOs promoting democracy and other things and they are encouraging other Soviet republics to do the same. Those same NGOs helped organize people for the revolution here. Do you have concern about this law in Russia and about the effort to encourage similar laws in this region?

PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO: -- what kind of economic and social situation we have in Ukraine. The GDP is approximately 4 percent and last year revenues by 60 or 70 percent higher than the last year. And recent risen real income by 25 percent, increasing wages by 34 percent, (inaudible) salary by 67 percent. There is a trend for the growth of industrial output and a trend for growth in most of the economic sectors. I think the economy managed to overcome those shocks and those difficulties rather quickly and rather easily over the last eight months. And I think in terms of administrative intervention that was made by the previous government in terms of the mistakes that were made by the government, I mean the closure of GDP down, the closure of free trade areas, the downfall of GDP and the almost negative trade balance, we managed to correct all those mistakes rather promptly and speedily. Just for example, in the first half of the year, there was a decrease in foreign direct investments in four times and just recently, over the last half of the year, there was an increasing direct foreign investments in dozens of times, and that experts shall calculate exactly what numbers we can present.

So we managed to overcome those economic difficulties that we experienced in the first half of the year. We have the government which is working quite steadily, the economy has calmed down and overcome the monthly crises, and today I think the main top priority on the agenda is to overcome the political difficulties. That probably has the most negative impact on economic indicators. In the course of our negotiations, we dedicated a lot of time, actually, to this issue. So I would like you to accept my optimistic remarks, my optimistic attitude to that.

SECRETARY RICE: He's from the American press, accepting your optimistic remarks, I think is -- (laughter). Yes, in fact, there is a law that has gone, I think, for the first reading in the Duma in Russia about which we do have concerns, about which human rights -- perhaps I should say nongovernmental organizations have concerns, about which I believe some Russians have concerns. And the United States Government has expressed those concerns to the Russian Federation at all levels.

We would certainly hope that the importance of nongovernmental organizations to a stable, democratic environment would be understood by the Russian government. Democracy is built, of course, on elections and it's built on parliaments and it's built on principles like rule of law and freedom of speech. But it is also built on the ability of citizens to associate themselves freely and to work to bring their government into a particular direction.

And the role of nongovernmental organizations that have been working in Russia and in other newly independent states of the former Soviet Union are simply trying to help citizens to organize them selves better, to petition their government to make changes in the policies that affect their very lives. That's the essence of democracy. And we are making the case to the Russian government but we are also making the case to other places as well.

I can say that here in Ukraine, civil society is active and it is working hard, and it is one reason that we have such hope and optimism for the future of Ukraine.

QUESTION: The question to the president of Ukraine. Yesterday, the minister of economy said that due to some technical reasons, Ukraine would not be able to get a positive decision on accession to the WTO during the Hong Kong Summit. Do you have any specific plans about Ukraine's accession to WTO in terms of time frame?

PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO: This is true that mainly we are speaking about technical things. In terms of protocols, we have eight or nine protocols to be signed, and specifically the bilateral (inaudible) between the government of Ukraine and the government of United States of America, Australia. Our positions are pretty close in our dialogue.

The proposals that have been sent, I think, would provide opportunities for both sides, I mean American and Australian side, to accept Ukraine's position. And today I think this issue is more procedural than substantive.

Next question, the question -- in terms of six laws, I mean six laws that have not been passed by the parliament but will have to be passed yet. Basically we are speaking about the laws that are needed to regulate the exports of the cattle skins, and this is one of the requirements of the WTO. But the complexity of this problem is most of the cattle skins today are exported from Ukraine through the so-called free trade areas. So (inaudible) but the part of the question was also quite correct.

Another two laws that should be passed by the parliament are two laws on nonferrous and ferrous scrap metals. But I think these are laws that could be passed rather quickly.

And another thing, I think Ukraine can complete most of its commitment after it gets membership in WTO and during the so-called transition period that is supposed to be granted to Ukraine. But basically we expect from Hong Kong Summit rather positive remarks. And I think prior to the next parliamentary election, Ukraine will try to provide all the answers that are needed by WTO. 2005/T20-06

Released on December 7, 2005

ENDS


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