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.
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
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.
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
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.