President Poroshenko of Ukraine arrived with his government today, ahead of the Ukrainian Prime Minister’s visit to Paris in about a fortnight’s time, to start new chapters in relations between France and Ukraine.
We obviously talked about the situation in eastern Ukraine and in particular the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Basically, the ceasefire is being observed but incidents are still occurring. Basically, the withdrawal of heavy weapons is being carried out but some heavy weapons remain in place. The only course of action we must reiterate is full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and we’re working on this.
Meetings have taken place this week, and there will be others. We don’t want the timetable set in Minsk to be obstructed by considerations other than the quest for peace. There are also measures stemming from political decisions, and I know the Ukrainian President wants to take them.
We also spoke about the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga. Among other things, this meeting must consolidate relations between the European Union and Ukraine. And France wants to set the example. That’s why – President Poroshenko received confirmation of this from the speakers of both assemblies – the Association Agreement will be ratified in the coming months, at any rate before the summer.
But let me come back to the bilateral relationship between France and Ukraine. We signed a joint declaration and set down broad working guidelines. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will come back on 13 May so that we can look at their implementation. I’m going to mention a number of fields.
Economic relations first of all. A joint commission will meet before the end of the year. There are many projects. In order to fund them, Ukraine needs international support and European support. The International Monetary Fund, the EU and all Ukraine’s friends are playing an active role. It’s about fleshing out projects that will have an impact on Ukraine’s economic growth. Ukraine has suffered a lot from the events that have occurred and is in recession. That’s also one of the causes of the disturbances that may continue. So we must do everything to ensure Ukraine returns to growth and modernizes its economy.
We also have significant cooperation in the energy field. Operators are going to go to Ukraine to work on modernizing a number of networks.
We’d also like to develop our agrifood cooperation. Ukraine is a great agricultural country. The agriculture ministers are going to work on organizing a forum that could take place in June.
We also want high-level university cooperation. The President of the Conference of University Presidents, M. Salzmann, is going to travel to Ukraine with his colleagues in June for a university forum.
We also talked about the French lycée [school catering for pupils aged between approximately 15 and 18 years] in Kiev. We want language teaching in the Ukrainian educational system to be promoted. (…)
I want to end on a personal note. I’d like to tell Petro Poroshenko what an essential role he’s played in the process of searching for a solution over recent months. We’ve got to know each other at many meetings – night-time and daytime, long and shorter, very often over the telephone. I’ve appreciated not only Petro Poroshenko’s determination – to stick to his goals – but also his ability to seek agreement and seek the compromises necessary for his country.
And I wanted to take the opportunity of his visit – the first official visit – to tell him unofficially that I’ve very much appreciated his work.
Thank you. (…)./.