In the scope of his official visit Victor Yushchenko spoke to Germany’s business leaders, politicians and journalists attending a meeting of the German Association for East European Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, or DGO) in Berlin, president's press office.
His speech was about Ukraine, its relations with the European Union and role in Europe’s energy system.
“We are convinced the European Union needs Ukraine as much as Ukraine needs the European Union,” he said, adding that his government understood why EU leaders were “a bit skeptical about further enlargement.” “We understand and respect this sentiment. However, these problems are temporary, as the European family project is unique.”
Speaking about an enhanced agreement Ukraine seeks to sign with the European Union, the President said our country “needs to see the goal it wants to achieve, and this goal is membership in the EU.” He said the European Union “obviously lacks knowledge of Ukraine,” which explains why our country is still underestimated in Europe.
“The reason I came here is to develop Ukraine’s ties with Germany and to help our voice be heard through the prism of this relationship,” he said, describing his afternoon meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel as successful.
Yushchenko said Ukraine must become a part of Europe’s energy market based on cooperation.
“Bilateral decisions narrow Europe’s energy prospects.”
He welcomed plans to formulate an energy strategy to transport oil from Central Asia to Europe and said his recent talks with Kazakh leader Nazarbayev and Azeri leader Aliyev had focused on how to create an oil corridor connecting Asia and Europe. One of the conceptual elements of this strategy may be the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline, which Ukraine wants to extend to Gdansk, building an oil refinery in Brody, he added.
The President said Ukraine wished to liberalize energy relations with its partners, including Russia. When asked to characterize Ukrainian-Russian relations, he said Ukraine protected its interests when developing cooperation with its neighbor. He added that our intensive relations with Russia must not block Ukraine’s strategic goal to integrate into the EU.
Yushchenko then spoke of the political situation in Ukraine. He said political stability was a prerequisite for the country’s economic development. He said the only way to resolve conflicts caused by the imperfect constitution was to involve political leaders, citizens and experts in amending the country’s supreme law or perhaps even hold a referendum to accept or reject new proposals.
Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck, who was present at the meeting, said his state was interested in forging close ties with Eastern Europe, Ukraine in particular, because of its geographic location and history.
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