Foreign minister of Ukraine stresses need for greater European support

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Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

With the return of Nadezhda Savtchenko a big win for Ukraine, there are other political prisoners in Russia, Crimea and Donbas who must be fought for said Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin, talking to Postimees in Tallinn yesterday.  

-You were to visit Estonia in March but the trip was cancelled due to domestic political issues in Ukraine. Since then, significant things have happened: Ukraine has a new government, the Dutch people voted against the ratification of EU-Ukraine association treaty etc. But let’s start with Nadezhda Savtchnko, who was released in May. Why did Moscow have to seize her after all?

Because for us all, Nadi is a genuine symbol. A pilot, an officer who fought to Ukrainian freedom and independence. But she is not the only one.

It is nice that she’s back home, but we still have ten political prisoners in Russia, 20 in Crimea and 114 in Donbas. Thus, a big win for Ukraine and our friends while we need these other wins  as well. We must keep on fighting.

-Regarding the talks to get Ms Savtchenko back: was it a diplomatic solution or, rather, a deal between Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko?

For the most part, this was the highest level agreement. I did talk to Mr Lavrov (Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov – J. T.) and not about Ms Savtchenko only, but about all the rest, but in the end Mr Putin decides.

-Soon the EU will have to decide whether or not to continue the sanctions against Russia or to give them up? Do you think the sanctions have worked?

They have definitely been effective and have worked. We need the sanctions so that Russia would carry out all that is written in the Minsk accord. As the Minsk accord is fully kept, we can begin to talk about alleviating the sanctions.

-What do you say about the Dutch referendum – though not binding for the government in Holland. How was it received in Ukraine?

I respect democratic expressions and declarations, but the referendum was not about Ukraine but the euroscepticism in Holland. It was just that the Ukrainian issue was tossed up. The majority of the Dutch did not know sufficiently about the association treaty.

My goal is for the agreement to be ratified swiftly. The treaty is a special framework for the carrying out of the reforms in Ukraine. We need it and it is in the interests of us all.

-The reforms are not doing too well in Ukraine we understand...

With that I do not agree. We have several success stories to show.

-Such as?

Such as the police reform. It used to be total corruption; now, it is totally the other way round.

Last week, a serious step was taken towards judicial reform. Same goes for prosecutor general’s reform.

We are altering the management of a lot of state enterprises to have increased effectiveness. So we are on our way, while with several issues we need to deal with greater dedication and move forwards decisively.

Understandably, the expectations of Ukrainians are very high. We are the first state that tries to carry out all reforms while fighting the Russian aggression.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no excuse to not execute the reforms, but a desire and a request for more help from the European Union, consistent help.

We are very thankful to Estonia for your help. At my meeting with Marina Kaljurand, I mentioned that should we compare countries according to size and the help provided, Estonia is among the first. We highly appreciate that.

-Finally: what is your vision for Ukraine in 2025?

I see a developed state with reforms undertaken in various spheres, definitely in the rule of law and economy. A state very close to joining the European Union. I believe it will come more quickly than many would believe. A Ukraine which is unified, European and democratic.

This is the vision I am working for. This is why we need our concerted effort, as well as the consistent input of our friends – as Estonia.


Pavlo Klimkin

  • Born in Kursk, 1967
  • Masters from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, in physics
  • Working at Ukrainian foreign ministry since 1993
  • 2012–2014 Ambassador to Germany
  • Foreign minister since June 2014
  • Non-party
  • Married, two sons