Ukraine hopes for Irish support in EU

09:40, 11 February 2009
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Ambassador sees strong parallels between two countries` past

Ukraine would do everything in its power to facilitate the transit of Russian gas supplies through its territory to the European Union, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Borys Bazylevskyi, said yesterday, The Irish Times reported.

The new year standoff between Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz and Russian energy giant Gazprom resulted in several European countries being deprived of gas supplies for two weeks.

The two countries have concluded a 10-year agreement for the provision of Russian gas to the Ukrainian market and all disagreements on transit to the EU are now said to be resolved.

“Ukraine is a reliable transit country,” the ambassador said in an interview with The Irish Times. “We regret very much the humanitarian and economic consequences for the EU member-states.”

Ukraine also remained committed to the goal of EU membership.

“This is our aim and purpose,” Mr Bazylevskyi said. “Ireland always confirms that it looks favourably on Ukrainian aspirations and in general, I must say, they are supporting us.”

Mr Bazylevskyi said his seven years as Ukrainian consul-general in Chicago first sparked his interest in coming to Ireland. “Chicago is a very Irish city and they have a magnificent Irish community.” He sees strong parallels between Ireland’s Great Famine and the Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s.

A round-table discussion on the history of the two countries is planned for NUI Maynooth later this year, with Ukrainian scholars in attendance.

The ambassador’s own family were victims of Stalinist oppression. His grandfather, an Orthodox priest, was executed by the KGB and his father arrested after the war.

On relations between Ukraine and Russia, Mr Bazylevskyi said: “We want to have equal relations with the Russians but we unfortunately feel that, in some aspects, the Russians do not accept Ukraine as an equal partner.

“Many in Russian society still cannot accept the idea of an independent Ukraine and the fact that the Soviet Union has disintegrated forever.”

On the much-publicised political tensions between President Viktor Yuschenko, prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, he says these should be seen in the context of the presidential elections due in January 2010.

“Another side is of course that we are still a very young democracy,” he added.

The Irish Times

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