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News

22 December 2017, 23:00

Marking 100 years of UA diplomacy

( Information Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat )

The First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko took part in the festivities dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the foreign service of Ukraine, taking place on December 22.

The ‘Olimpiiskyi’ NSC was today hosting a range of celebrations on the occasions of the golden jubilee of the Ukrainian Foreign Service and the Diplomat Day. The events were attended by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, the First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, the Foreign Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland, numerous dignitaries and diplomatic service workers.

Greeting Ukrainian diplomats, the President of Ukraine stressed that today like a hundred years ago Ukraine still fought for its own liberty.

“Just as a hundred years ago, our today’s struggle is for our Europeanness. Just as a hundred years ago, there are still lots of those who have not learned their lessons of history, yet continuing to exercise the sacred dances over the same old trap titled “playing footsie with Russia” and “pacification of aggressor,” said the President.

“It is an every Ukrainian diplomat’s key objective to not only demonstrate the Ukrainian idea but also show the strength of  Ukrainian mind unbeatable in sorest trials, throughout the entire history of building the State of Ukraine,” stressed the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. A spectacular example of the above move was said to be the very important and sweeping victory of Ukrainian diplomacy over the North aggressor in New York, where there was a resolve recognizing Russia as the occupying state in the Crimea made by the United Nations General Assembly.

Words of greeting sounded also from the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin who reminisced the first minister of foreign affairs of the Ukrainian People’s Republic Oleksandr Shulhin whose visions had been and were at hand of modern Ukrainian diplomats. “One of his statements in 1930, while in exile, has stuck in my mind for keeps - ‘As Ukraine gets free, it will surely go in with the Union of Europe, as it shall undoubtedly be in existence by that time’,” underscored P. Klimkin, having added that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should also today be treated as a part of that widened “union”.

At the festivities, there also was the Foreign Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland who congratulated the Ukrainian diplomatic corps as well. “We are standing with Ukraine abreast, together, side by side –  and it’s not only through sheer love to Ukraine but also because what Russia has done to Ukraine is an explicit threat to the world, to the whole global order,” underlined Chrystia Freeland. She also then stressed that Canada had been proud to be among the first to have recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1991, and voiced her hope for enhancement of the mutual dialogue between Ukraine and Canada in 2018 as the latter would be chairing the Group of Seven.

The First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko, too, congratulated the diplomats of Ukraine on their professional holiday and thanked them for their consummate professionalism and commitment to the interests of the State of Ukraine.

During the celebrations, there were several national awards presented to the best Ukrainian diplomats and community leaders for their “significant contribution to implementation of Ukraine’s Euro-integration strivings, for strengthening Ukraine’s global stature, multi-year seminal diplomatic activity and high-level expertise”.

Worthy of note

The Ukraine’s Foreign Service: History in a nutshell

The Foreign Service of Ukraine has long-standing traditions, based first and foremost on the diplomatic experience of Kyivan Rus’-Ukraine. However, the roots of Ukrainian diplomacy go much deeper. They should be traced in the Byzantine and Roman traditions forming the cornerstone of all modern European states.

The Old Rus’-Ukrainian state maintained close ties with Byzantium, the Holy See, the German Empire, Poland, Hungary, France, Scandinavian states. During the reign of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054), who was Volodymyr Svyatoslavovych’s son, the international relations intensified greatly. He actively used a method of dynastic marriages that was widely spread in the medieval period. Yaroslav’s son Vsevolod married the daughter of Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomakh. One of Yaroslav’s daughters, Anna, married French King Henry I. Her sister Yelyzaveta, became the wife of Norwegian King Harald the Severe. Prince Yaroslav’s third daughter Anastasia married Hungarian King Andras I. Close relations with Poland were sealed by marriage of Yaroslav’s sister Dobroniha and Kasimir the Prince of Krakow.

After the decline and collapse of the Old Rus’-Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian diplomacy reached its significant progress during the Cossack era.

With having started their formation in the first half of the XVI century, Ukrainian Cossacks gradually turned into the progenitor of Ukrainian statehood. At the beginning of the XVII century the Zaporizhian Cossacks became a subject of international relations and an influential military and political power in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. In 1594 Cossacks concluded a treaty with representatives of the Christian union of states “the Sacred League” on joint struggle against the Ottoman Empire. International contacts of the Cossacks intensified significantly and expanded after coming to power and military victories of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who, according to Prosper Merimee “was fluent in Polish, Russian, Turkish and Latin, had a subtle and acute intellect, was patient and cunning”. At his residence in Pereyaslav, Bohdan Khmelnytsky met with envoys of European states, Transylvanian Prince George Rakoczy, ambassadors of the Ottoman Sultan and the Moscow Tsar. He held talks with Polish representatives, established and developed relations with Sweden.

After B.Khmelnytsky, the greatest contribution to the development of Ukrainian diplomacy was made by hetmans Ivan Vygovsky, Ivan Mazepa and Pylyp Orlyk.

Formation and establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine as a full-fledged state structure is connected with the First Universal of the Ukrainian Central Rada (June 10, 1917) and creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic. On July 16, 1917, the Central Rada proclaimed the Second Universal that read about the establishment of the General Secretariat as the executive body. From the first day of its existence the Secretariat of International Affairs started functioning as part of the General Secretariat. The Secretariat of International Affairs was the prototype of the first Foreign Service of Ukraine in the XX century. On December 22, 1917 Volodymyr Vynnychenko the Head of the General Secretariat of the Ukrainian People's Republic, proclaimed by the Third Universal of the Central Rada, and the Secretary General of International Affairs Olexandr Shulhyn signed the "Draft Law on the Establishment of the General Secretariat of International Affairs". This document defined the duties of the General Secretariat of International Affairs, namely: "conducting state international relations, protection of the interests of Ukrainian citizens abroad and general and provisional settlement of national disagreements within the Ukrainian People's Republic".  The Forth Universal of the Central Rada, published on January 12, 1918 gave an important impetus to further development of the Ukrainian Foreign Service. It proclaimed the Ukrainian People's Republic "independent, self-determined, free, sovereign state of the Ukrainian people". It was at this time that active work started on setting up a network of diplomatic and consular missions, that functioned in accordance with state laws and regulations of the Secretariat of International Affairs (later - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

When Pavlo Skoropadsky, the Ukrainian State Hetman came to power on April 28, 1918 the Ukrainian government continued development of its national foreign service.

There were three main directions of foreign policy of the Ukrainian state, namely "establishment of friendly relations with the countries of the Quadruple Alliance, settlement of disputed territorial problems with neighboring states, establishing diplomatic relations with neutral states". The period of the Hetman government witnessed a steady expansion of diplomatic relations with foreign countries. In particular, the Ukrainian State sent its diplomatic missions to Romania, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden (a total of 10 states) and received more than twenty plenipotentiary representatives of foreign countries (Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Finland and others).

An important contribution to the development of the Ukrainian Foreign Service was made by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Doroshenko, who succeeded Mykola Vasylenko. It was Dmytro Doroshenko who achieved important diplomatic results, created an effective structure of the Ukrainian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and developed the legal basis of foreign policy activities. In June 1918 the "Law on Embassies and Missions of the Ukrainian State" and in July 1918 the "Law on the Ukrainian consular service" were passed.

During the period of the Second Republican government (the Directory), formed in December 1918, diplomatic contacts of the previous Ukrainian governments were preserved to a great extent and sometimes even expanded.

In particular, the Directory, whose first Minister for Foreign Affairs was Volodymyr Chekhivsky sent its diplomatic representatives to Belgium, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, the US, established embassies in Estonia, Latvia, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The Ukrainian government was represented in Vatican. Ukrainian delegation took part in the Paris Peace Conference, acting simultaneously as temporary diplomatic representative of Ukraine in France.

Foreign policy activities of the West Ukrainian People's Republic (WUPR) became an important part of the history of Ukrainian diplomacy.

On January 22, 1919 guided by mutual desire to historic unification of Ukrainian lands into a single state the representatives of the two governments publicly proclaimed the Act of Unification of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic. During its government the WUPR established wide diplomatic contacts. Representative offices of the WUPR were opened in Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia. Special missions were sent to the countries where a significant number of Ukrainian expatriates lived, i.e. to Canada, the USA, the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Along with the state-building efforts, made by the governments of UPR, WUPR, Hetman and the Directory, the formation of parallel state structures of Soviet Ukraine began in July 1917.

From the start of the formation of power structures of Soviet Ukraine the "foreign policy functions" were entrusted to a certain extent to the People’s Secretariat of international affairs, which was later transformed into the People's Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, headed by Volodymyr Zatonsky.

In January 1919 the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (UkrSSR) was formed. It was headed by Chrystyjan Rakovsky, who at the same time was the head of the Foreign Ministry of Soviet Ukraine.

Representatives of the UkrSSR were in Warsaw, Berlin, Prague. Foreign diplomatic representatives of Poland as well as Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia took care mainly of trade-economic and consular issues in the Soviet Ukraine.

However, the situation changed drastically in December 1922 when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was founded. All foreign policy, economic and trade ties of Ukraine soon became the competence of  the Union central authorities. Thus, in the early 20-ies of XX century Ukraine lost not only the state, it lost the possibility to conduct its own foreign policy.

On February 1, 1944 at its session the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union adopted the Law “On delegating powers in the field of Foreign Affairs to the Union Republics and the Resulting Transformation of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs from the All-Union into a Union-Republican People’s Commissariat”. This act formally restored the rights of the Union republics in the field of foreign policy after a two-decade break.

International activities of Ukraine during 1944-1990 were mainly focused on participation in the United Nations (UN). This provided a possibility, though a limited one to inform the world community about life in Ukraine and to participate in the discussion of global and regional problems and to gain experience in multilateral diplomacy. As a founding member of the UN, Ukraine (the UkrSSR) participated in the elaboration of the UN Charter, shaping of its structure, bodies and institutions. The delegation of Ukrainian SSR actively participated in the UN activities since the very beginning of its existence. In 1945 Ukrainian SSR became a member of the International Court of Justice. In the following years it joined a number of other international agencies: the World Health Organization (1946), the Universal Postal Union (1947), the World Meteorological Organization (1948), the International Labour Organization (ILO) (1954), UNESCO (1954), the Economic Commission for Europe (1956) and the IAEA (1957).

In 1948-1949 and 1984-1985 Ukraine was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. However, only in 2000-2001, when Ukraine was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the third time, our State was as an independent participant of international relations.

The new historical stage in the development of Ukrainian diplomacy began on July 16, 1990, when the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of the Ukrainian SSR adopted the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine.

The Declaration stated that Ukraine "as a subject of international law shall establish direct relations with other states, conclude treaties with them, exchange diplomatic, consular and trade missions, participate in activities of international organizations ...". Ukraine "shall act as an equal participant of international relations, actively promote strengthening of universal peace and international security and directly participate in all-European process and European structures". After the historic Act of Ukraine's independence on August 24, 1991 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs faced entirely new tasks related to the recognition of Ukraine by the international community, the establishment of diplomatic relations, creation of an effective network of its own diplomatic and consular missions, establishment of full bilateral relations with foreign countries, acquiring membership in the leading international organizations.

During the first years of independence, Ukraine was recognized by more than 170 foreign countries. Almost all of them established diplomatic relations and develop bilateral cooperation.

On July 2, 1993 the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Basic directions of foreign policy of Ukraine.

According to Article 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine is in charge of the foreign policy of the State. He represents the country in international relations, conducts negotiations and concludes international treaties of Ukraine. He makes decisions on recognition of foreign states, appoints and dismisses heads of diplomatic missions of Ukraine to foreign states and international organizations, accepts credentials of diplomatic representatives of foreign states. Ukraine has developed an effective network of its diplomatic and consular missions abroad. Nowadays Ukraine is a member of more than 90 international organizations. In 2000-2001, Ukraine was among the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Since Ukraine’s independence its representatives have repeatedly been elected chairmen and heads of many influential international structures, especially the United Nations bodies.