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Munk Centre

Borys Tarasyuk
(Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine, Director, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, Kyiv)

"Ukraine's Foreign Policy: Challenges and Perspectives"

On November 12, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Borys Tarasyuk, shared his insider view of ten years of foreign policy in Ukraine. His lecture on "Ukraine's Foreign Policy: Challenges and Perspectives" was received with a great interest by the academic circles of the U of T as well as the Ukrainian community.

Mr. Tarasyuk, 52, had served as Ukraine's envoy to NATO before he took over as foreign minister in April 1998. He has been closely identified with the strongly pro-Western posture of independent Ukraine's foreign policy throughout the 1990s until his dismissal in September 2000.

In his presentation, Mr. Tarasyuk discussed the challenges that Ukraine has resolved successfully in the 1990s, including giving up its nuclear arsenal, dealing with the issue of the Black Sea fleet and Crimean separatism, forging relations with the EU and NATO as well as other international institutions, and proving itself as a reliable and active regional player in peacekeeping operations in the world's hot spots. Not surprisingly, as the former minister informed us, according to a recent public opinion poll, 21 percent of those polled identified the foreign policy of Ukraine as one of the greatest achievements of the ten years of independent Ukraine, in comparison with 7 percent attributed to economic developments.

Speaking on the possible development of Ukraine's foreign policy, Mr. Tarasyuk described three options. The first is that Ukraine continues its present policy of balancing between East and West. In his opinion, this policy had its merits and servved the purpose during the 1990s. But now it is time for Ukraine to define itself and decide where it belongs. The second option is the European choice and the third option, Eurasia. Mr. Tarasyuk commented more negatively on the last option; however, he was confident that in all three options the independence of Ukraine will not be compromised. The worst possible scenario would be the quasi-independence of Ukraine. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Tarasyuk noted that ultimately the future of Ukraine is in Ukraine's hands, and the greatest responsibility is on Ukrainian people. "Yet, we need your (Western) understanding, support, and advice, and we hope that we will continue to have this positive approach from the Canadian government."

Larysa Iarovenko, Petro Jacyk Program and Natalia Nemyliwska, CREES

Content: © 2002 Petro Jacyk • Design: © 2002 dragandesign.