USAK Hosts Dr. Sergiy Korsunsky, Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey
As part of our “Leaders Meet Intellectuals” platform, USAK was pleased to welcome the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Sergiy Korsunsky. Dr. Korsunsky has authored more than 120 academic papers and publications, including 6 books. His latest book, “Energy Diplomacy,” was published in 2008. Prior to his July 2008 appointment as the Ambassador to Turkey, he served as the Director-General of the Department for Economic Cooperation in the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Korsunsky spoke about the recent developments in the Ukrainian elections and Turkish-Ukrainian relations. Following his lecture, a question and answer session was held with the audience.
Ambassador Korsunsky touched upon many topics during his lecture, including the recent elections held in Ukraine. He noted that during the election, Ukrainians were offered many choices due to the 18 candidates from varying political backgrounds running for President. He also mentioned that unlike previous elections, where international monitors would say the elections were not democratic, this time around they declared the elections to be free, fair and transparent; Brussels also commended Ukraine’s recent Presidential election.
Ambassador Korsunsky discussed the obstacles the new President has to face, including his limited influence in the government; stating that he will only have the legal right to choose two ministers, the foreign minister and defense minister. The other ministers will stay in place so long as the coalition is in place.
In regards to foreign policy issues, Ambassador Korsunsky said, “The political forces will be re-shuffled; we will see new faces in foreign policy,” stating that Viktor Yanukovych, the new Ukrainian President, will have a more pragmatic approach to Ukraine’s foreign policy.
Although Yanukovych has already been associated as being pro-Russia by the Western media outlets, Ambassador Korsunsky pointed out that no nation can afford to have bad relations with Russia, especially Ukraine, saying, “They are our neighbor and a strategic partner for us.” He noted that Ukraine is looking for a constructive and friendly way to have relations with Russia.
Ambassador Korsunsky also stated that, unfortunately, the previous Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was ignored by the leaders of the Russian Federation while relations between us are so important that after Yanukovych was elected, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his chief of staff to Ukraine where the two discussed all possible issues that could be on the agenda.
The new Ukrainian President will be in Brussels during the first week of March and Ambassador Korsunsky stated that “We are a European country and we need no more additional proof of those identities.” He added that many of the big businesses that supported Yanukovych have direct interests in the EU and that Ukraine is deeply involved legally and economically in the EU and in European infrastructure projects but that they are still working with Russia to remove obstacles and work on industrial projects.
The topic of NATO was also discussed and whether Ukraine would be a member in the near future. Ambassador Korsunsky said that the new President is not in a hurry to join NATO but will no doubt continue the cooperation it has with the organization. He said, “Joining NATO will be postponed and is probably not a front issue. We don't have a sufficient military to defend ourselves but want to be part of a security framework.”
Ambassador Korsunsky also discussed Ukraine’s relations with Turkey. He said that relations with Turkey will be one of Ukraine’s priorities and that trade remains high despite the decrease from the economic crisis. He stated that, “We have very good potential to deepen economic relations with Turkey and before the 2012 European Football Championship we will need more infrastructure and no doubt Turkish companies will participate in that.” He also added that Turkey will become even more important than before in terms of regional security cooperation and bi-lateral relations and that the new President will pay special attention to relations with Turkey.