Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday underlined the “considerable momentum” in forging a “closer cooperation” between Greece and Ukraine, speaking in the meeting in Kiev with visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
Yanukovych stressed that Greece is an important partner of Ukraine and referred to the increase in the bilateral trade transactions noting that “last year they rose 35 pct while this year increased 90 pct compared to 2010”.
In the meeting with Droutsas, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov expressed gratitude for Greece’s support to his country’s bid to become a non permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as, for its 100,000-euro contribution to the construction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant sarcophagus in spite of the economic crisis it is experiencing.
As regards Ukraine’s European orientation, Azarov referred to certain difficulties focusing on the rules regulating the exports of Ukrainian products, the service market and the issue of the protected designation of origin (PDO) list of quality food products.
Referring to bilateral relations, Azarov underlined the importance of the diptych, liberalization of visa issuance and establishment of an Athens-Kiev direct flight.
The Ukrainian prime minister underlined the prospects of cooperation in the sector of energy - the renewable energy sources (RES), in particular - underlining that Ukraine is planning the construction of a liquefied natural gas station. He referred to the increased number of Ukrainian tourists visiting Greece and expressed interest in defence cooperation and in launching direct contacts between the Greek and the Ukrainian energy ministries.
FM Droutsas addresses audience at Kiev Univ.
Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas focused on the value of the European Union, “which, in essence, is a programme of peace, probably the most successful, we have experienced”, addressing an audience at the International Relations Institute, Taras Shevchenko Kyiv University, on Tuesday.
Droutsas underlined that “Greece’s goal is the accession of the Balkans into the EU”, adding that “through the European prospect we will be able to solve problems that are still hurting us and seek peaceful settlements for ongoing problems”.
As regards the Greek-Ukrainian relations, Droutsas underlined their importance, stressing that they are rooted back to the 8th century, pointing out that the Organization for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) favours broad cooperation on regional level.
Droutsas referred to the strong presence of Greek companies in Ukraine and to Greece’s position as regards the Balkans, underlining that “respecting international law is the cornerstone of Greek foreign policy”. He outlined Greece’s position vis-à-vis the fYRoM "name issue" and stressed that Athens supports the European policy for a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as well as the preservation of the Serbian monuments in Kosovo.
Referring to the “historic developments” in the Arab World, the foreign minister underlined that Greece supports a “Marshall Plan” type initiative.
Addressing the Ukrainian audience, Droutsas pointed out that “the EU sees Ukraine as a European state” citing the association agreement and free trade zone negotiations. He referred to the “impressive reforms promoted in the country in all sectors” and using Greece’s example he stressed that, amidst the economic crisis, “our country gives a daily battle against corruption”.
As regards energy issues, he said shaping a common European energy policy is among the EU priorities stressing, however, that each country has its own interests. He referred to the natural gas pipeline that will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to Italy via Greece and Turkey and to Greece’s contacts with Israel focusing on the exploitation of Israel’s natural gas deposits.
Responding to a question by the audience on the issue of illegal migration, he said this is a major issue for the EU, particularly, for the countries that form its external borders. Referring to Greece, he said that 90 pct of the illegal migrants attempt to cross the EU borders via Greece, noting characteristically that roughly 900,000 illegal migrants have been arrested in the past few years.
As regards the visa issuance, Droutsas stressed that the process will be liberalized gradually.