On February 28 opposition leader of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko delivered a speech in the Center for Strategic and International Stiduies. 

Transcript by:

Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.

Good day, and first of all I would like to thank Dr. Hamre for giving me this unique opportunity to talk with this audience. I also would like to greet Ambassador Shamshur in the United States. I also greet all of the ambassadors who work in Ukraine – (inaudible) – as well as all other distinguished guests who came to this room to listen to what is happening in Ukraine and how Ukraine works and builds its democracy after Orange Revolution.

First of all, I probably will start that I know that after Orange Revolution events, Ukraine was the brightest hope for the whole region in development of democracy in post-Soviet area, and all areas that are related to security -- energy security in the region in general. I know that in the whole world, Ukraine is looked at with some questions – what is happening in Ukraine, what is going there? And it is the destruction of

expectations: Is it somehow stopped, or is it in its own way a movement forward? And not only our friends outside of Ukraine try to answer these questions, but even Ukrainians are trying to look for answers to – for an answer to this question. I would like to tell you about my subjective thoughts, as a person who lives and works in the heart of Ukraine, and in this way has the right to have her own opinion.

First of all, Orange Revolution – first honest presidential election in Ukraine changed Ukraine positively forever. And regardless of what people say today and do, Ukraine is different, and even through complications, difficulties, struggle that continues, we will continue moving forward, only forward. And even those who want to step backwards, we will not allow to do this in a democratic manner.

What we have got today and do we have – and what we are proud of today: first of all, monopoly, single-party system is destructed in Ukraine after presidential election. We see that we have political competition in Ukraine – real one. We have government; we have the opposition. Government can work logically or not logically, like in any other country. Opposition is always looking closely to the acts of government. Competition is in the country and it is a part of democracy.

The second thing that we received and probably will not allow to change is the real freedom of speech in Ukraine. I myself, as a person who did not – who was not allowed during the previous presidential election to speak on a single TV channel in Ukraine, I have an opportunity to express my opinion on all channels of Ukraine, all newspapers. Maybe it’s not perfect, but people will – politicians will never like how mass media works, but nevertheless we are moving forward in this regard.

It’s my pleasure to see how some positions in the Supreme Rada, even when we have two political parts – that is, government and opposition – we were able to vote on many drafts of laws specifically on WTO accession. We also voted on issues of judicial reforms in Ukraine, and we can give a long list of issues important for Ukraine which are reviewed by Verkhovna Rada today in Ukraine and have consensus. We, as opposition, are trying to work on important issues for Ukraine constructively and work together with the government sometimes.

Nevertheless, probably I would be not honest completely if I would say that Ukraine doesn’t have challenges today, challenges that are just as risky as they were before Orange Revolution and before parliamentary elections. And when I am going to speak today about today’s challenges, I will talk not only in the content of Ukraine’s problems, but also I would like you to get a sense that everything that is going in Ukraine affects the whole region. The world changes that region and creates positive movement forward or some problems that can obstruct this movement, even if we are talking about post-Soviet space. I don’t want to see Ukraine or many other countries that became independent and left the Soviet Union, would be called post-Soviet spaces. I would like to put an end to this as soon as possible and get independent, democratic, and dynamic in its development – to see those countries.

As to challenges, I believe that they are related to the fact that after the Orange Revolution, we were not – a democratic team was not able to stay in power, the government that had very clear directions of the development for Ukraine. First of all, this is European integration, Euro-Atlantic integration. Reforms in Ukraine – that is number two – reforms that lead to the fact that Ukraine have to have norms and rules of life that are typical for the whole Europe.

This team was not able to stay at power, and today I believe it’s too late to review the mistakes or try to find out the mistakes. Maybe it’s not even productive. I believe that we have to identify that. Just like we were not able to evaluate the forces that we inherited from the Soviet Union, we were not able to evaluate their strengths and financial opportunities. On the other hand, there were also mistakes, but this is – these are our lessons and we need to move forward, not stopping in some retrospectives.

Today we have the next picture in Ukraine. We have constitutional reforms, constitutional reform which gave power to two political forces. They are not harmonized in their work in constitutional space. Two forces – president of Ukraine and prime minister of Ukraine – they have absolutely different political teams, but they, at the same time, have power given by people with different strategies, with different opposite concepts about Ukraine’s development. But today, this is the result of changes to constitution that we have. It is not possible to have two teams at power with different projects with different views.

A lot of people say that this was absence of way out during the presidential election, and without this we were able to do – we were able to have to have Yushchenko as a president. I do not share this point of view, even though this is just my point of view. I believe that constitutional reform brought to (maturity/majority ?) results that we have today in Ukraine.

After parliamentary elections, just after presidential elections, people of Ukraine supported democratic forces. There was no other alternative. In different format and different package, they voted differently, but just like majority voted for president and European choice, the same happened during parliamentary election. The majority didn’t change regardless of some disappointments. And this inspires us and this convinces us that Ukraine will not change its course.

Politicians sometimes are unpredicted and majority in parliamentary elections in parliament, we created the majority, which is not natural for the country, but president tried to do as best as he could to balance somehow in new parliament two courses, two concepts, two strategies for Ukraine’s development. And you know that Universal of National Unity was signed, and Yanukovich was a candidate for prime minister’s title – job. And after that, we got the problem that is related to absolutely different positions of two parties and on different strategies carried out by, on the one hand, president, and on the other hand, by prime minister.

Today, president made next statement that the team of Yanukovich violated all issues of this agreement. President finally made his point. Understanding the difficulty of the country’s situation, we, as opposition, supported president. We started to renew the trust between two teams – presidential and ours – and last Saturday we signed an agreement about unity of democratic forces, and we hope that today democratic forces re-thought about a lot of parts of our work and our cooperation and today we are on the course of stabilization around president, opposition, and everybody who is ready to support president. And once again, I would like to say that today I, being a leader of the largest bloc in parliament, I’m ready to support resident and ready to make sure that the strategy of Ukraine will not change.

Now, about real challenges that I cannot not mention – that it is not possible not to mention – and I will refer to statement of the government, Yanukovich government, as something that is of our concern today, understanding that Ukraine is part of a region and all problems and issues that are related to the development of Ukraine – protection of its independence, protections of its energy independence, and its security – all of these issues have to be viewed in the context of regional energy security. I cannot view Ukraine in any other way. This is the element of stability of the whole region.

And that is why lately I was very much surprised that Putin stated that he, together with Our Ukraine’s government, starts a new era in unity, or energy unity, which starts with transfer of our gas pipeline to Russia, and on the other hand, Ukraine will have the right to explore gas fields in the Russian Federation. And we know that the statement of any other person about the passing Ukraine – the world has several oppositions. For example, there were some fiascos of gas exploration in Russia by other countries and companies, known Russian companies.

We understand that this is actually a step for absorption of energy in Ukraine because official leader of the Russian Federation cannot state something like that in vain. We saw that it was supported by our prime minister, minister of fuel, and Azi (ph), vice president of Ukraine’s comment, and the process actually started.

With great efforts we were able to stop this process with passing a special law that does not allow to touch our pipeline’s infrastructure and change it in this manner. We were just able to stop this process. That was another statement. And again, the statement was sent from officials of Russia and Ukraine, that all our distribution gas pipeline system is transferred to Russia, and actually that there will be an agreement signed.

And when we were able to review and assess this situation, we saw that we have the same RosUkrEnergo company behind that, the same company that actually changed our agreement with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia about long-term gas supply. We understood that political project of gasification of politics continues in reality, and we believe that this is not gas; this is actually a violation of political sovereignty of Ukraine.

The next step that was made lately and which was mentioned in the most analytical newspapers in Ukraine, that the same line – the same line draws UkrEnergo –

today we see that we transfer the generation of energy and also transportation of energy with the companies that are affiliated with the RosUkrEnergo to West. And then we are talking about distribution of electricity, of Ukrainian electricity with the use of companies associated with RosUkrEnergo.

Then there were other statements that were part of this chain. We are talking about joint and common efforts of Russian and Ukrainian government to explore our uranium fields and also use uranium for peaceful purposes. What is this? Movement of diversification or movement to independence – energy independence of Ukraine? Is this the strengthening of our political sovereignty? Technically no.

I can say that, being a leader of opposition political force, yes, I can organize and make some steps to prevent these things, but I will never be able to change the main line of the official politics of Ukraine. This is an official politics with all instruments and institutions. And to change manually these politics in the format of opposition is utopia. In this case, Ukraine needs to understand – its society has to understand whether Ukraine needs this kind of politics today.

But the situation doesn’t stop here. The next challenge that comes right behind the practical attacks on the opportunities of energy diversification in Ukraine, which also is a result – will result for the European Union – we have new program and new statement that – a few days ago were made by vice president – Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Azarov said, Ukrainian government made a decision that it is needed to activate the work to have single economic space or zone.

In life and in politics, I always believed that I was an optimist. And I do not believe that today, after Ukraine passed all this hardship with improvement of independence, we can somehow restore the former Soviet Union. Even if it’s softly called a single economic zone, I, being an optimist, do not believe that these statements do not have any systematic politics behind it.

I would like to remind all of us that a single economic zone is not only a free trade zone; this is actually the development of super-governmental agency that gets part of sovereignty for Ukraine. And this is the establishment that makes decision on all issues, starting with financial, monetary, customs policy. And in that case, Ukraine will have only 11 percent of role in making decision, and the Russian Federation will have more than 80 percent in the process of making decision. I would like to ask, is this the future that we were standing for during Orange Revolution, or a future that a real citizen of our country dreamt of, those who fought for freedom? And there was no document about protocols signed about this zone. There is no need to ratify in parliament. The parliament is behind this process, outside of this process, because the last thing that Kuchma did, he ratified together with the Yanukovich and Azarov about all of these documents in parliament.

We have a question: How can we influence and affect this inadequate politics of the government, which is in opposition to presidential politics and at the same time in

contradiction with our politics, regardless of the fact that we have over 50 percent of supporters who support Ukraine’s movement towards Europe and further from imperial forces? And we have people who support a lot of issues in Ukraine, the last of support of energy independence and procedures that are related to single economic zone. I would like to ask how, how to stop this process? What are the manners to do – how we can do this?

What the president does today, and his team, we try through veto, presidential veto; we are trying through public position and public statement about this politic; we are trying to work through difficult procedures in parliament to prevent these things. And we are trying to do some things, but nevertheless, today’s risks are – we have much more risks today than we can even imagine.

I would love to come to you today and talk to you nicely that everything is fine; we are dealing with all of the processes; we are moving based on the course that we stated, but – that would be nice, but we will not deviate from this course. We are uniting the democratic forces and Ukraine is moving forward positively. But I would like to attract your attention once again that there is a different plan – for example, reform of constitution that was stated in Ukraine.

Practically talking about the president with regard to the changes in constitution, you know, the plan. This plan is already in the Verkhovna Rada, and the bill is registered so it will eliminate from president the last powers and from the presidential force (?) a public election. It will be just the parliament who can decide. Every day in parliament we have the attack on the deputies of the democratic factions, and practically slowly transfer from the deputies of the democratic coalitions to the power coalition, which is headed by Yanukovych.

So I have to tell you that one step is still we have – so Yanukovych, based on the constant – (unintelligible) – of his power, will receive 301 vote, a constitutional majority. Then in that case, the presidential veto will have no power whatsoever. We can have any changes to the constitution. Then the new law on domestic and foreign policy will be reality without veto. And, telling you the truth, this background we have also an objective (?) adaptation of Ukraine as well as adaptation of the single economic space of Ukraine.

And I am not making this cause more troublesome; I’m just telling you that if we are going to just contemplate this procedure, we can wake up in the morning and see that we, all of us, are members of a single economic space. I really envy Poland. I envy today other countries that can have domestic discussions regarding the policies. They can have changes in political forces within the country, but never they would wake up in the morning and be a part of the new configuration of a new Soviet Union.

We are different here. And my dear friends, I would like to pay attention to that fact that we have dreamt that Ukraine would be a flagman in our region to unite those post-Soviet countries that see their way a democratic way: Georgia, Moldova. Even

nowadays I would like you to pay attention to Belarus, that has stated that they will not change their independence to what the energy preference is. So in that case, instead of help Belarus and help her out to be a more democratic country, practically we have lost the possibility to do that, and we have – Ukraine even has said that it’s wrong that Belarus made that statement.

Also, I would like to mention that Georgia is unprotected. I have to tell you that in Trans-Dniester Region, we have back all policies of the previous policy. So instead of being a part of the unique policy management, so we all be a factor – Ukraine will be a factor to influence the contemplation of this concept in Ukraine. Whatever we do, we are practically making the conflicts worse and we are putting this country into the corner where it is very difficult to find a way out.

With regard to the energy security, I have to tell you about three projects that, as a minimum, nowadays are today in a stagnation period. The first project that we have seen the way out for the European Union and for Ukraine with regard to the diversification of gas deliveries, it was to unite the resources of the natural gas in the entire region of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and built through the Caspian Sea, Georgia and Ukraine, trans gas pipeline. It would be a diverse resource for Ukraine and for Europe. Nowadays, we have to put a huge fat cross of it. Why? Because Russia is planning nowadays to deploy the Blue Stream, make it stronger, and with doing that, practically strike all of the diversification. Is it better for Ukraine and Europe? I’m not sure about it.

The second project that practically also is finishing up today, that is the project of diversification of nuclear fuel for Ukraine and its adaptation of more sources besides Russia’s as the fuel for Ukraine, because Russia is trying to take out the uranium fields in Ukraine to make it its monopoly so we would not have even this little source of energy, and to do this with Europe, even though, for example, we have a wonderful product with American company, Westinghouse. Practically all of this is crossed out. That is the second program that they don’t allow to develop.

The third program also is diminishing the exploration and production of energy sources in Ukraine in the offshores of Black and Azov Sea. Those companies who want this, and they are trying not to produce but to start to prepare for these alternative sources of energy sources, practically nowadays are – because we do have this possibility, but they are trying to find out every possible way to close down these projects and to invite the companies that would be monopolies under the influence of the Russian Federation on Ukraine’s territory. But I don’t want even to mention tens and tens of small projects that also are moving in the same directions for Ukraine to be more dependent on Russian energy sources.

Logically it would be practically – make some statement, what to do in this situation? Really we have three ways how to develop our realities. All this way could be real. We cannot say that everything in unison today is set up and there is no doubt how and what will be the way to develop Ukraine’s future. One way it could be a negotiation process between the president, prime minister, try to stop all negative tendencies that put

in danger the severity (?) of the Ukrainian nation and are a danger to the diversification of energy resources, practically a danger to the energy security of Ukraine, all on the level of negotiations, also with the help of those countries that are immediately interested in that region, so that this region would be healthier and not next energy monopoly.

But this process is now under the danger of risk of failure. The president stated that the dialogue practically impossible, that failure to comply with the provisions are universal (?). The team of Prime Minister Yanukovych stated yesterday that they would like to have the pre-term presidential election maybe at the same time with the parliamentary elections – parliament elections. On the other hand, Party of Regents and prime minister of Ukraine have blocked completely to nominate the foreign minister of Ukraine, so in this way prohibited the president to have his choice and to form the foreign policy of Ukraine.

All institutional forces, with exception of the security service of Ukraine, are nowadays in the hands of one political party. That practically is the political party of the prime minister, and the positions are filled – it was the person from the same region – Donetsk Region. Ninety percent of the officials in the government are from the same region. This process we see every day. And even though the world’s community, president and democratic team have put the major force into their hands to stop this movement toward losing the severity of independence of Ukrainian energy security, nowadays this process undergoes tremendous crisis.

The second process of development is based on the daily procedures. Practically, the presidential powers are taken away from him. He is the only person in our government that agrees with the NATO movement of Ukraine – the only one. So now his powers are eliminating every day less and less.

So remember that we can see the day that no president, no democratic power in the parliament, that after the amount will not be 150 blocking voices to prevent to adopt some key laws. It can happen. So also this can lead to the way the president and the democratic forces will be those that the Party of Regents is proposing now, headed by Prime Minster Yanukovych.

And the third and first of all first two projects cannot be good for the political stability of our Ukraine. And maybe that is the most important part for us. Political stability for Ukraine, if it’s going to be achieved, it will form later on. The series of positive consequences, as in the economic sector, including investment policy also and policy space, including Ukraine as a partner of any Euro political projects. That is why the first two projects unfortunately they are in – (unintelligible) -- problems, and this opposition is because of the problems of the constitution we have and also a multi-vector – (unintelligible) – that we have today – different power forces.

And the last way – last way is – please do not think that that is something that our political force sees as some absolute way. That is one of the three ways that has right to live. That is the possibility to find out the legal consequences; not for the revolution but

through the pre-term parliament elections, and at the same time, to adopt new constitution that may eliminate this constitutional conflict that we see today in Ukraine. This could be the way once can force us, again, go for the election. And democratic forces are not afraid of this election because Ukrainian society understands the democratic leaders – leader will have the majority.

What would be the road in the (nature ?) of the democratic forces? How many places democratic forces will win? We will not discuss about this. The most important thing, that all together they will be majority if we have frank, transparent elections and the coalition will be formed in a frank matter.

Pre-term election, that is not a normal procedure. That is practically (have twice ?) process. It can be a summation of our society. It could eliminate the old strategy and make Ukraine to move in a new strategic space. And talking about the pre-term elections, also I would like you to remember the number that we did not state. This number was cited by Freedom House based on the deep political, sociological poll (?) that only 25 percent from those people that have voted in favor of Party of Regents now are in the favor of the Yanukovych administration. That is an official number that was published, and it is well known.

This is the statement that practically stability is not typical for this – not natural political force that is a leader today informing of Ukrainians’ position as in the domestic policy reforms as in the as well as in our Euro-political steps and our geopolitical constructions.

In my opinion, the only thing we have no right to -- we do not have right now to rest on laurels. We do not have time to relax and think that we have won. The Orange Revolution gave us this freedom. I have to tell you that Orange Revolution has opened only the way. It has demonstrated the will of the society. At the same time, it has demonstrated that our people, our nation, is much stronger than politician. That is what Orange Revolution has demonstrated to us. And it proclaimed that it will not allow more to move in any other direction, only in the strategic direction, even though politicians will try to do so. But to move ahead after the door was open, politicians have to do that. They have to find the wisdom to unite. They have to find tolerance, to find other ways.

They even don’t appeal to the people. They decided in the legal ways and they are obligated to adopt the reforms that will move Ukraine into the European unity, and the best way will be to make this way faster. And me being a leader one of the opposition forces, I am in favor of this, and our team – this president is in favor of this. And we can accept the consequences, and we are able to move forward.

The only thing we’re asking the world community – understand us deeply and also if some mistakes are committed, not to make these mistakes key mistakes in analyzing our situation, but to help us open the possibility to support Ukraine to clean this crisis that we are surviving right now. And always it is nice for me to read the citing of famous people that say that policy – I’m sorry – democracy is like a rising tide. We have

tides and we have ebb, but it doesn’t depend and only (recourse ?) is to come back with greater force and democracy will be built.

So independently of the fact that it’s very difficult in Ukraine like now, but I want you to know that Ukraine have to be the hope of the world, the hope that we’ll be complying with everything what we have to do and what the world community expects from us.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Material provided by U.S.-Ukraine Foundation


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