Welcome to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council


It is extremely significant that within the past half-year the council's
[USUBC] membership has nearly doubled. Now it includes over
60 American companies.

Interview with Ambassador Oleh Shamshur
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States of America
By Mykola SIRUK, The Day #13, Kyiv, Ukraine, 8 April 2008

Some political forces in Ukraine say that the US is not fulfilling its
obligations vis-a-vis Ukraine and that Washington is controlling Kyiv. Do
such statements correspond to reality?

Did the first US president's visit to Ukraine in seven years meet the
expectations of the Ukrainian side? Is it important for us that the US
recognizes the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation?

These and other questions are raised in The Day's interview with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the US Oleh SHAMSHUR, who took a direct part in preparing for the US president's visit.


[THE DAY] With regard to the role of the United States in the world, one
can see that the US is not so invincible and that things have not always been
good with respect to its obligations.

Many people cite examples of Ukraine's rejection of nuclear weapons and the advantageous contract to supply turbines to Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr, yet Ukraine has not received any of the promised compensations from the US.

On the other hand, some political forces say that Washington is controlling
our state. Could you comment on this?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "I will start with the second question. The active and
dynamic character of Ukrainian politics, the presence of powerful political
forces and parties, a free press and developed civil society are probably a
guarantee of the fact that this is not happening. Under these conditions, it
is difficult to imagine any country exerting influence on the formulation of
critical decisions.

On the other hand, it is a positive thing that in all sorts of ways the US
has supported and continues to support the democratic character of the
development of Ukrainian society and economic reform, and is providing
assistance to resolve such questions as the struggle against corruption and
AIDS and overcoming the consequences of the Chornobyl catastrophe.

The US's contribution to Ukraine's economic development is positive and
corresponds with the main line of Ukraine's development.

As for the rejection of nuclear weapons, this was a correct and timely move.
Ukraine thus focused on resolving truly essential questions and did not
start living with illusions of grandeur because it possessed nuclear

The Bushehr situation is more complicated. But I would like to underline
that in our country people do not know that a number of important projects
for Ukraine have been completed.

The best example is Sea Launch. I would like to emphasize that the fact that
we have normal, constructive relations with the US does not mean that we
will not insist on resolving Ukraine's most important problems. We are
conducting a very intensive dialog with the US, one that is not always
simple, in those spheres where we see that our interests should be better

[THE DAY] Is there any progress on the question of utilizing rocket fuel at
the Pavlohrad Chemical Plant? This was also one of the US's obligations
vis-a-vis Ukraine.

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "The dialogue continues: that is all I can say here without
going into details because this topic is rather sensitive. The US has made
concessions on certain key questions, and where others are concerned we
still have to convince the American administration about them. This question
has been included in the Road Map at our proposal.

Thus, this is a guarantee that we will continue to defend our approach in
the constructive dialog. This also includes the question of fighting against
biological threats. Here we also have some differences of opinion. But we
are making joint efforts to overcome them."

[THE DAY] During the meeting between presidents Bush and Yushchenko
emphasis was laid on the partnership relations between our two countries.

So can one expect that for Washington we will be the same kind of partners
as Lithuania, Latvia, and the Czech Republic, which have signed a visa
waiver deal with the US?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "The question of liberalizing the visa regime is on
the agenda. Our Road Map talks about the task of 'strengthening bilateral
cooperation through exchanges and visits.

It also says that the US and Ukraine agree to promote personal contacts
among citizens and to focus their attention on the sphere of cultural and
educational exchange programs. Thus, we are continuing to discuss the
question of liberalizing the visa regime with the Americans.

I want to emphasize that this question is among the most complicated ones.
We expect to prolong visas. There are some positive signals in this sphere.
I believe that one should not expect a visa waiver regime at this particular

This is not a reality for all the new members of the European Union either.
I think that the crucial argument will be the regularization of migrant
exchanges between Ukraine and the US.

Frankly speaking, the smaller the number of Ukrainian illegal migrants in
the US and the fewer visas refusals, although this process is a rather
subjective one, the more arguments there will be to insist on canceling

We regularly cite the example that on our side a 90-day stay does not
require a visa. I would like to assure you that we are working on this, and
this problem is a regular part of our negotiation agenda."


[THE DAY] When will the free trade zone with the US be created, as was
announced during the presidents' negotiations? More importantly, will
Ukraine benefit from this?

There are frequent reports in the international mass media about loud
protests in many protests against signing such an agreement, particularly in
South Korea.

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "Ukraine's accession to the WTO and the signing of
an agreement on cooperation in the sphere of trade and investments are the
first steps on the way to the possible creation of a free trade zone.

Without a doubt, such a zone will be created only if it is beneficial for
Ukraine and the US. Nothing will come of this unless there is mutual

I think that the competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy will be a key
factor for us, as well as the accessibility of Ukrainian goods reaching the
United States. So, I don't doubt that this will become a reality for us only
if there is mutual interest and it is mutually beneficial. Nobody is
foisting this zone on anybody.

Certainly, the US has a rather complicated attitude to this. In observing
the debates, especially the statements made by the candidates from the
Democratic Party, one can say that they treat this in a very cautious and
skeptical way.

On the other hand, there are many politicians and experts who assert that
NAFTA and other agreements are beneficial for the United States. So, this
is a long road but the prospect is present.

By the way, on April 1 the US president spoke about the free trade zone.
And this is very important."


[THE DAY] At the press conference Bush said that 10 months remain before he
leaves the White House. Speaking about the future relations between Ukraine
and the US, which of today's presidential candidates would be the best one
for Ukraine?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "I consider myself a diplomat of the traditional school;
therefore I try to avoid giving commentaries on the domestic situation of
the country where I am accredited.

However, if you look at the personalities, knowledge of Ukraine, and even
contacts with Ukraine, we have a unique situation where all the presidential
candidates know about Ukraine, have contacts with our country, and have
already shown their eagerness to actively cooperate with Ukraine.

This was most evident in the support for Ukraine getting the MAP. Hillary
Clinton was the first to show her support, and the very next day Barack
Obama's statement appeared, and a statement was made by John McCain at
the Munich Conference. I had an opportunity to meet McCain as well as
Obama and Clinton several times when they were in Kyiv.

We are following their activity and I have no doubts that they will be
interested in developing productive relations with Ukraine in all spheres.

One can only guess which of them will be the most active. But in principle
I think that we have every reason to be optimistic about each of them."

[THE DAY] Let's talk about whether the recent visit of the leader of the
world's most powerful state met every expectation?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "It met every expectation to a certain extent. They were
met from the point of view of the content of the political dialog, primarily
on the question of the MAP and other issues that were discussed. They were
justified from the point of view of the personal contact between the two

It was also important that several important agreements were signed during
the visit. President Bush's visit did not have a declarative nature; it was
filled with a lot of content. Moreover, some agreements were being developed
for a long time, so this visit gave the opportunity to accelerate the pace
of work.

The Road Map contains practically everything, starting with Ukraine's
Euro-Atlantic integration to the HIV-AIDS program: these are absolutely
practical things. The approach to them envisaged that this would be a
practical concrete document.

I can also mention the signing of important agreements on space and
cooperation in the sphere of trade and investments as well as a couple of
important contracts.

The agreement signed with the Westinghouse Company means a serious
diversification of energy supply, while the agreement signed with the Holtec
Company talks about creating conditions both for storing our power plants'
spent fuel and, what is very important, for their possible usage in the
future, which may become a 'gold reserve' for the development of a nuclear
power supply."


[THE DAY] Does this mean that after signing the agreement in the sphere of
trade and investments, large American investments will come to Ukraine? Do
big American investors still have fears about investing in Ukraine?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "Will they come or not? Irrespective of President
Bush's visit, being in touch with American business structures, first of
all, with the American-Ukrainian Business Council [U.S.-Ukraine Business
Council (USUBC)] and the US Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, I can
say that there is serious interest.

It is extremely significant that within the past half-year the council's
[USUBC] membership has nearly doubled. Now it includes over 60
American companies.

There is interest in different branches. There is eagerness to start working
intensively in Ukraine. Indisputably, the further improvement of the
investment climate is a crucial question. We can expect investments when
they are beneficial to business structures.

We are not living in Soviet times, when a political agreement would be
signed, say, to give access to Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola to the Soviet market.
Business structures should see clear benefits, transparent and clear
conditions, and stability.

The more the investment climate improves the larger the investments that
will come. It is important that the problems with VAT reimbursements have
been resolved."


[THE DAY] I would like to touch on the topic of the Holodomor. Even during
the Soviet period the US held sessions on the Holodomor in Ukraine and a
corresponding resolution was approved. Is it important for us that the
Americans move further and recognize the Holodomor as genocide against the
Ukrainian people?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "In 2006 a law was approved in the US to grant Ukraine
a plot of land in Washington for the construction of a memorial. The text of
the law states: 'the construction of a memorial to the 'famine genocide in
Ukraine.' I hope we will succeed in laying the foundation for this monument
by the end of this year.

We have information that some Congressmen are considering the possibility
of submitting a new resolution. This is absolutely important for us.

We are doing everything necessary to bring the truth about the famine in
Ukraine to the attention of the American community. In my opinion, the
ceremony of laying flowers at the memorial by the US president was very

[THE DAY] Can one expect, then, that the US will assist in the process of
the UN's recognition of the Holodomor?

[AMB SHAMSHUR] "This is a complicated question that depends on many
factors. Incidentally, the Road Map says that Ukraine and the US will
cooperate closely with the goal of commemorating and increasing the level
of public awareness about the Holodomor, including within the framework
of international organizations."
LINK: http://www.day.kiev.ua/198899/