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UKRAINE


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 49,537 41,380 37,600 55
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 970 770 720 137
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Ukraine




Update No: 330 - (30/06/08)

Canada to the fore
The Ukrainians are particularly aware of the importance of Canada in the scheme of things. There is a huge Ukrainian diaspora of more than two million, radio stations and other media sustaining Ukrainian culture there. 

The Ukrainians see Canada as the US with a human face, infinitely preferable with different attitudes to violence and gun ownership; without racial strife and with a more civilised European feel about it. Business contacts are extensive and growing.

Into NATO?
An urgent issue is Ukrainian membership of NATO, which Washington backs as it so happens. But it was unable to persuade the Europeans to accept it at the April NATO summit in Bucharest. They fear it would vastly alienate the Russians, which, indeed, it would.

The Ukrainian public agree, as it so happens, fearing for their energy supplies in winter, still totally reliant on Russia. Over one-half of them in a recent opinion poll thought it a bad idea, while only a quarter thought it a good one.

President Viktor Yushchenko is all for it, however, one of the reasons he is in the little black book of the Kremlin, along with President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia. Yushenko made a special trip to Canada in late May to forward the idea, realising that Canada in some ways has more clout with the Europeans than the US, certainly under Bush.

Yushchenko given rare honour
Yushchenko arrived in Canada on May 26, greeted by Treasury Board President Vic Toews in the traditional Ukrainian way -- with bread and salt. He addressed a joint session of Parliament, where bread came up again when he spoke about his country, known as it once was, as the breadbasket of Europe.

Addressing a joint session is a distinction that's recently been reserved for such important players as U.S. President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "It's a very high honour for our president," said Ukrainian Ambassador Ihor Ostash, who noted that this is the first time in 14 years that a Ukrainian president has visited.

During his address, Yushchenko brought up the issue of the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, known as ‘the Holodomor’, and asked Canada to recognize the Soviet action as a genocide – which it undoubtedly was.

Later the same day, the Ukrainian president was front and centre at a Parliament Hill commemoration ceremony, organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the embassy, to mark the 75th anniversary of that famine.

Yushchenko to initiate creation of Baltic-Black Sea- Caspian Energy Transit Commonwealth
It would be wise for many reasons for Ukraine to diversify its energy supplies away from Russia. It is never desirable to have a more-or-less single source of supply, as recent experience has demonstrated.

President Viktor Yushchenko has been seeking to link up Caucasian energy to consumers to their north, including to the foremost, Ukraine? 

The key issue on the agenda of the Energy Summit due in Kiev on May 22-23 was the initiative of Yushchenko on creating the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian Energy Transit Commonwealth. Ukraine would benefit doubly, as both in receipt of new energy from the Caucasus and as the key transit country for energy flowing to states on the Baltic.
 
This commonwealth will help create a new culture of energy transit in the spirit of the European Energy Charter, and will provide a new balance of interests between producers, consumers, and transiters of energy. “The main aim of the Commonwealth is to provide a reliable and secure oil and gas transit at optimal rates”, B.Sokolovskiy, Yushchenko's energy spokesman, said. 

According to him, another important topic for discussion at the Energy Summit was the operation of the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline. In the coming months, the oil pipeline will work under a new regime, which corresponds to the energy security strategy of Ukraine, he noted. Besides, several variants of its branches will be worked out: towards northern, western, and eastern routes, in addition to already existing trunks.

He expressed a belief that this oil pipeline will become of great importance for European consumers, as well as for exporters from the Caspian region as a whole.

The Baku card
One way to further this, and to by-pass Russia, has been to cultivate good relations with Azerbaijan, a natural route for its own and others' Caspian energy to reach Ukraine and Northern Europe. Yushchenko welcomed Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in the Dom Gorodetskogo residence in Kiev on May 22. They discussed issues of cooperation in the energy, military and technical and humanitarian fields, just as the energy summit started in Kiev. The military aspect is very significant. Russia is not the place that Azerbaijan would now wish to send its young officers to, yet a slav-speaking nation with similar military traditions, as Ukraine is, makes sense to both sides, given that Russia is no longer in either case, their best friend. 

The presidents in bilateral talks before the summit discussed opportunities for the construction of joint high-tech plant in Ukraine to refine Caspian oil, also the strengthening of military and technical cooperation and education of Azerbaijani servicemen in Ukrainian higher military schools. 

‘Gongs’ given
Yushchenko said he was hopeful that Azerbaijan would support the UN resolution on the mass famine (“Golodomor”) in Ukraine in 1932-1933. The Ukrainian President rewarded his Azerbaijani counterpart with the First-degree Kniaz Yaroslav Mudri Order for his personal contribution to strengthening Ukraine-Azerbaijan relations. 
In his turn, Ilham Aliyev rewarded Yushchenko with the Heydar Aliyev Order, for his special contribution to the development of friendly relations and cooperation between the Ukrainian and Azerbaijani peoples. 

Yushchenko stated that Ukraine-Azerbaijan bilateral relations were at a high level. He said the trade turnover between the two countries had increased by 43 per cent last year no less; and he expressed confidence that the meeting would give an impetus to new initiatives and ideas.

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