The head of the working group on ensuring Ukraine's OSCE chairmanship and the director of the political department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Viacheslav Yatsiuk, spoke in an interview with UKRINFORM about how Kyiv prepared for its chairmanship of the organization, and about the prospects and possible consequences for Ukraine from the fulfillment of a complicated international mission.
Q: Viacheslav Viktorovych, the Foreign Affairs Ministry strongly believes in Ukraine's successful chairmanship of the OSCE. Preparations for this lasted about a year. What was done over this period?
A: The preparations for Ukraine's chairmanship of the OSCE really lasted almost throughout the year 2012. A number of activities were conducted as part of this process.
First and foremost, we formulated and presented to all OSCE participating states the priorities of Ukraine's presidency of this organization, which were generally approved and supported. We also carried out extensive consultations with many of the organization's member states in order to explain, clarify or correct these priorities.
Another important area of preparatory work was the creation of proper institutional, material and technical conditions for the Ukrainian presidency. In particular, the Foreign Affairs Ministry set up a special working group on preparations for ensuring Ukraine's presidency of the OSCE in 2013. In addition, the staff of Ukraine's Permanent Mission to International Organizations in Vienna was significantly strengthened. This will also play an important role as part of our presidency.
I want to remind you that on December 25, one of the first international contacts of newly appointed Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara was with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, who congratulated the minister on his appointment. Leonid Oleksandrovych Kozhara, in turn, confirmed a very serious attitude of Ukraine to its presidency of this organization. He also confirmed all of the previously declared priorities of our presidency of this organization.
We can say that Ukraine has done everything to ensure the proper chairmanship of this organization.
Q: Ukraine formally begins its presidency on January 1, 2013. Are any festivities planned on this occasion?
A: We don't see OSCE chairmanship as a holiday. This is a very difficult job, so no festivities are planned.
However, roughly in the middle of January, the Ukrainian foreign minister is planning to visit Vienna, where he will participate in a number of events related to the beginning of Ukraine's presidency of this organization. In particular, he will speak at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, during which he will outline the priorities and program of Ukraine's presidency of the organization. He also plans to meet, in particular, with the heads of the organization's institutions and the OSCE secretary general. These events in Vienna are traditional and even they have an informal name of 'inauguration.' I would not call them the festivities, but the official start of presidency will be marked by such events.
Ukraine's OSCE presidency formally begins on January 1, 2013. Accordingly, on this day Ukraine begins to perform its duties in full. From this day, for the whole year, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara will serve as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
Q: What priority tasks does Ukraine set as OSCE chair?
A: A priority in the activity of the OSCE is the settlement of protracted conflicts, which also remains a priority for Ukraine's presidency. We will do everything we can to facilitate progress on each of these 'frozen conflicts.' In this context, for obvious reasons, the Transdniestrian problem is the first one in the field of view of our presidency. I will remind you that Ukraine has a formal status of a state-guarantor in the negotiating process in the 5+2 format on the Transdniestrian settlement. It's obvious that progress on these problems is relevant for OSCE objectives and from the point of view of Ukraine's national interests.
As for the economy and environment, preventing the influence of activity in the energy sector on the environment was outlined as a priority in this sphere. Apparently, we don't need additional arguments to explain that this is an important issue for Ukraine that survived the Chornobyl disaster.
In the human dimension, in the so-called humanitarian dimension, one of our priorities is the fight against human trafficking. Back in 2003, the OSCE adopted an action plan to combat human trafficking. But since this action plan was adopted a long time ago, another priority for our presidency is to give a new impetus to international cooperation in preventing and combating human trafficking.
In addition, particular attention during our presidency will be paid to the strengthening of freedom of speech in the OSCE area. This topic is important for the OSCE as a whole and for all OSCE participating states, as well as for our state. Ukraine recognizes the importance of strengthening the legal principles of ensuring freedom of the media in order to make them more independent and professional.
Therefore, the list of these priorities, as you see, is identical to the national interests of Ukraine. Actually, the problems that are discussed in the OSCE and are on its agenda are directly relevant to the national interests of Ukraine.
Q: Since OSCE chairmanship is a responsible international mission, it will have serious consequences for Ukraine's image in the world...
A: The OSCE is now the largest regional organization in the world, which consists of 57 member countries. There are also 11 partner states that show a particular interest in the activity of the OSCE and have institutional links with this organization. The Ukrainian presidency will play the role of the political management of this organization. Accordingly, the main function of our presidency will be to ensure the effective implementation by the OSCE of the tasks assigned to it.
If Ukraine successfully accomplishes this mission (and we have no doubt that it will accomplish it successfully), there will be very important consequences for the international authority of Ukraine. This will mean that our state can really ensure the political management of such a responsible organization as the OSCE.