Victor Yushchenko has formally introduced the country’s new foreign minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, to Ukrainian diplomats and outlined short-term and long-term priorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the President`s press-office.

In his speech, the President characterized the newly appointed minister as a “gifted young professional with highly intellectual approaches to work.”

“On the one hand, this person is apolitical, as required by law, especially at state institutions, but on the other hand, he is deeply patriotic and understands the essence of national interests and can ensure their fulfillment,” he said, expressing hopes that the Foreign Ministry and its new leader would follow the course he had determined.

“I hope both the Verkhovna Rada and the government will support Arseniy Petrovych,” he said, adding that he realized how challenging this would be.

The President praised the Foreign Ministry for fulfilling the nation’s priorities. He thanked former foreign minister Borys Tarasyuk for helping “clearly articulate the country’s European and Euro-Atlantic goals and build very important springboards to promote Ukraine’s interests all over the world.” He also thanked acting foreign minister Volodymyr Ohryzko for his professionalism and patriotism in “the recent tense circumstances.” He said it was sad that discussions about the foreign minister in the Verkhovna Rada were so politicized but expressed confidence lawmakers would “recover.”

The President reiterated that Ukraine would not change its course and said our strategic goals were EU and NATO membership, as well as cooperation with Russia and the United States of America, and our neighbors.

Speaking about Ukraine’s EU integration, Mr. Yushchenko said, “This is a policy of changes and reforms but we are motivated by one thing – we want to have new opportunities the European community offers.” He said Ukrainian diplomats should work hard to sign agreements on enhanced cooperation and free trade with the European Union. The President said Ukraine’s ambition was to join NATO but insisted that we should build “trustful, mutually beneficial and equal relations with the Russian Federation,” and praised results achieved by the Yushchenko-Putin Commission in the past year.

He said Ukraine’s partnership with the United States should include both bilateral contacts and cooperation to prevent and resolve global and regional challenges.

Speaking about the country’s growing regional role, the President said: “I am glad we have intensified diplomatic relations with our neighbors [Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, Romania, Belarus].” He added that it was necessary to pass bills to facilitate our cooperation within GUAM and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

“We believe that Ukraine is a reliable and responsible international partner which fulfills its obligations, planetary, regional and bilateral,” he said.

The President demanded that the new foreign minister protect national interests, fulfill the country’s economic interests and help Ukrainians abroad.