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MFA History
18 December 2019 16:51

Foreign policy service of Ukraine has long 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 András I. Close relations with Poland were sealed by marriage of Yaroslav’s sister  Dobroniha and Kasimir the Prince of Kraków.

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

Having started their formation in the first half of the XVI century Ukrainian Cossacks gradually turned into the progenitor of Ukranian statehood.

At the beginning of the XVII century Zaporizhia Cossacks became a subject of international relations and an influential military and political factor 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.

Its only two centuries later when the Ukrainian diplomacy had its next chance.

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 policy service. It proclaimed the Ukrainian People's Republic "independent, self-determing, 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).

The Ukrainian foreign policy service of the Central Rada was headed by:

Olexandr Shulhyn

Secretary General of International Affairs, Minister for Foreign Affairs

(December 1917 -  January 24,1918)  

Vsevolod Holubovych

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(January 30, 1918 - March 3, 1918)

Mykola Lyubynsky

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Head of the Foreign Ministry

(March 3 - April 28, 1918)

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 made 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 rule of Hetman government the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine was headed by:

 Mykola Vasylenko

Head of the Council of Ministers, Minister for Foreign Affairs

(April 30 - May 20, 1918)

Dmytro Doroshenko

Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Foreign Affairs

(May 20 -  November 14, 1918)

Heorhiy  Afanasyev

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(November 14-  December 14, 1918)

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. Ukranian delegation took part in the Paris Peace Conference, acting simultaneously as temporary diplomatic representative of Ukraine in France.

During the period of Directory the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine was headed by:

Volodymyr  Chekhivsky

Head of the Council of Ministers - Minister for Foreign Affairs

(December 26, 1918 - February 11, 1919) 

Kost’ Matsievych

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(February 13 - March 1919)

Volodymyr Temnytskyy

Minister for Foreign Affairs

 (April - August 1919)

Andriy  Livytskyy

Head of the  Foreign Ministry

(August 1919 - May 1920)

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, Brazil. 

The WUPR foreign policy office was headed by:

Vasyl Paneyko

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(November 11, 1918 - 1919) 

Lonhyn Tsehelsky

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(January 4- March 10, 1919)

 Mykhailo Lozynsky

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(March 10 - April 17, 1919)

Stepan Vytvytsky

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(April 17- May 1919, June 9 - October 1919 August 1, - February1920)

Kost Levytsky

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(beg. 1920-1923)

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. 

The Foreign Ministry of the UkrSSR was headed by:

Serhiy Bakynsky

People's Secretary for Interethnic Affairs

(December 14, 1917 - March 1, 1918)

Volodymyr  Zatonsky

People's Secretary for Foreign Affairs

(1-4 March 1918)

Mykola Skrypnyk

People's Secretary for Foreign Affairs

(March 8 - April 18, 1918)

Chrystyjan Rakovsky

People's Secretary for Foreign Affairs

(January - July 1919 and March 1920 - July 1923)

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 was 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 Ukranian 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 Organisation ( 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR was headed by:

Olexandr Korniychuk

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(February - July 1944)

Dmytro Manuilsky

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(1944 - 1952 )

Anatoly Baranovsky

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(June 10, 1952 - June 17, 1953)

Luka Palamarchuk

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(May 11, 1954 - August 13, 1965)

Dmytro Bilokolos

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(March 16, 1966 - June 11, 1970)

Heorhiy  Shevel

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(August 10, 1970 - November 18, 1980)

Volodymyr Martynenko

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(November 18, 1980 - December 28, 1984)

Volodymyr Kravets

Minister for Foreign Affairs

(December 29, 1984 - July 27, 1990)

The new historical stage in the development of Ukrainian diplomacy began on July 16, 1990, when the Verhovna 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. As an exceptional example, one should remember that it is the representative of Ukraine Hennadiy Udovenko who was elected President of the 52nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Independent Ukraine was headed by:

 Anatoliy Zlenko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(July 27, 1990 -  August 25, 1994, October 2, 2000 - September 2, 2003)

Hennadiy Udovenko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(August 25, 1994 – April 17, 1998)

Borys Tarasyuk

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(April 17, 1998 - September 29, 2000

February 4, 2005 -  January 30, 2007)

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(September 2, 2003 - February 3, 2005

March 11, 2010 - December 24, 2012)

Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(March 21, December 4, 2007)

Volodymyr Ogryzko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(December 18, 2007 - March 3, 2009)

Petro Poroshenko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(October 9, 2009 - March 11, 2010)

Leonid Kozhara

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(December 24, 2012 -  February 23, 2014)

Andriy Deshchytsia

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(February 27 - June 19, 2014)

Pavlo Klimkin

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(June 19, 2014 - August 2019)

Vadym Prystaiko

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(from August 2019 - March 2020)

Dmytro Kuleba

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

(from March 2020 - present time)

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