Working visit by Dalia Grybauskaitė to Ukraine, 22 November 2011
President Dalia Grybauskaitė went on a working visit to Ukraine. In Kiev, she met with President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov of Ukraine, attended the fifth session of the Council of Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania and Ukraine, welcomed the participants of the business forum of both countries, and participated in the exhibition - fair of Lithuanian products.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych discussed the relationship between the European Union and Ukraine, and the progress in terms of European integration.
Speaking at the press conference after the bilateral meeting, the President has stressed that she came to Ukraine as its friend, but Lithuania is a member of the European Union and has to convey its message. According to the President, bilateral relations are developing smoothly, while the European integration process is getting complicated.
Expressing the EU's position Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined that Ukraine's integration perspective was realistic and Lithuania upheld it, however only implementation of the necessary internal reforms, respect for human rights and democratic values, as well as objective and fair trial in the case of the former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko and in other proceedings would bring Ukraine closer to the European Union.
"I am authorized to speak on behalf of the European Union. Europe is ready for closer relationship, but the democratic development of Ukraine should raise no doubts. Human rights, fair and objective trial - these are democratic values that we all should unconditionally honor," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
The President has observed that Europe was shocked by the court judgment in Yulia Tymoshenko's case and that the prevailing viewpoint is that that the former Prime Minister of Ukraine and her colleagues are the victims of political neutralization.
According to the President, Ukraine has not found yet the solution of political issues through amending the Penal Code, in particular in Yulia Tymoshenko's case. The European Union is observing the ongoing processes in this country and asks to ensure fair appellate proceedings of the former leader of the Ukrainian Government.
The President also stressed that the signing of EU Association and Free Trade Agreements would depend on the speed of internal reforms in Ukraine. We expect from Ukraine rapid implementation of constitutional, election, law enforcement and public administration reforms, the promotion of anti-corruption legal framework, and the improvement of business environment entrenching European standards in business and trade, she said.
The President underlined that Ukraine's failure to take all the necessary actions could delay the signing of the mentioned agreements with the European Union.
"A key prerequisite for signing the EU Association Agreement is that Ukraine should demonstrate practical actions as a proof that it can already live in the spirit of political association with Europe. Lithuania and the European Union are not willing to dictate as they respect Ukraine, which means that we are waiting till Ukraine itself finds the solutions," the President said.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania strongly advocates Ukraine's chosen way to European integration and is ready to help by sharing its experience, should Ukraine wish so.
After the meeting with the Ukrainian leader, President Dalia Grybauskaitė attended a session of the Council of Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania and Ukraine and discussed with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych the bilateral economic cooperation and the ways in which to enhance the effectiveness of the shuttle train "Viking" connecting the Baltic and Black sea regions.
During the visit, the presidents signed the bilateral memorandum on effective functioning of the train. The acceleration of customs procedures, the agreement on application of special tariffs in all Ukrainian railway stations where containers can be serviced, and the review of port tariffs - if these goals are achieved - will open new opportunities in cargo carriage for the Black sea region as a whole.
"Lithuania becomes a global link between East and West. The shuttle train reaching Odessa in 56 hours or China in 10 days means a new era in cargo carriage. "Viking" not only brings real economic benefits to Lithuania and Ukraine, but also opens new opportunities for Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.
Cooperation in agriculture, education and science was also in the focus of the meeting. The session of the Council of Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania and Ukraine was followed by the signing of the protocol. The agenda of the visit also included the signing of the agreement on cooperation in research and technologies and of the plan for consultations of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries.
During her working visit in Ukraine President Dalia Grybauskaitė also welcomed the participants of the Lithuanian-Ukrainian business forum.
According to the President, this forum, as well as the meetings of the chambers of trade, commerce and industry which have been held for several years already, show the wish to promote further the cooperation of both countries in the sphere of business and to develop joint projects. Over a hundred business people from Ukraine and Lithuania participate in the forum.
Speaking at the forum Dalia Grybauskaitė underlined that the Council of Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania and Ukraine had already become a good tradition contributing to the development of bilateral relations and yielding actual cooperation results. She said that the development of political relations not always coincided with economic development, but business cooperation was a basis of bilateral relations and would be supported on the highest level.
"I am delighted to see that business people of our countries find possibilities in Lithuania and Ukraine to develop their business which contributes to promoting export and direct investment. Rapid development of business in both countries is our common interest," the President said.
The volume of trade with Ukraine can reach one billion dollars this year.
Transport project "Viking" which connects Lithuania and Ukraine by a direct link - railway - is an example of joint efforts and potential of our countries," the President underlined.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Lithuania has always advocated the common future of Ukraine and the European Union. The EU-Ukraine joint projects, aimed at enhancing business, infrastructure and promoting people's relations, contribute to the reforms necessary for Ukraine and promote in it the European business culture which is based not only on technical standards but also on values, she said.
Today the President also met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, to discuss new forms of economic cooperation, and participated in the opening of the exhibition - fair of goods manufactured by Lithuanian companies and farmers.
According to the President, effective Lithuanian business which is successfully developed in other countries is the best ambassador of Lithuania.
"I am delighted that Lithuanian business is effective in Ukraine and other countries, that our food products and their quality are highly rated. Culture and gastronomic heritage really bring nations together," she said.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, the interest of Ukrainian people in the products of small-scale farmers shows that family business has perspectives both in Lithuania and Ukraine. It prevents from unemployment and revives the national heritage, the President underlined.
Lithuanian producers of foodstuffs, clothing and other goods - companies and farmers - participated in the Lithuanian Fair held in one of Kiev's shopping centers and in the International Cheese Festival, where one could taste Lithuanian products and dishes.
Press Service of the President
The President attends European Council meeting