Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba’s Speech at the Ivan Franko Lviv National University
08 October 2021 13:18

as delivered

Dear Mr Rector!

Dear Minister Çavuşoğlu!

Dear professors and students of the Lviv National University

I am grateful to the leadership of Ivan Franko Lviv National University for inviting me to speak at this international conference.

One of the oldest and most reputable Ukrainian schools of higher education, the Lviv National University marks three very important dates – its 360th birthday, 90 years since the establishment of its school of diplomatic studies and 30 years since its international law department was reopened. 

29 years ago a new international relations faculty was established and since then it has prepared many professional diplomats and economists.

JOKE: I don’t know how you can survive so many celebrations at once, but as we say, there’s nothing in this world that Ukrainian diplomacy is not capable of. I guess this applies to future diplomats as well.

I sincerely congratulate all of you and wish all the success in your academic, professional and student life!

I am particularly glad to share the happy moment of visiting your university together with my true friend and reliable partner - Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Minister Çavuşoğlu has been consistently supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity at the most critically important junctures of our recent history.

As head of the Turkish Delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and later President of this reputable organization, Minister Çavuşoğlu demonstrated remarkable diplomatic skills while resolving various international issues. He helped Ukraine obtain additional opportunities to defend its rights and interests at PACE.  

Thanks to Mevlut’s personal involvement, more than a thousand family members of our servicemen killed in the war-zone in the Donbas have got an opportunity to visit his native Antalya for rehabilitation. I would kindly ask the audience to give a round of applause to this endeavor.

In 2018, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan played a key role in helping Ukraine release Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were sentenced to prison by Russian courts on the occupied peninsula.

During the early days of COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey sent us a large humanitarian cargo with much needed facemasks, disinfectors, medical protection glasses and shields.

When this summer Turkey suffered from devastating wildfires, Ukraine immediately decided to send two firefighting aircrafts and four helicopters to help our friends and partners curb this natural disaster.

So here we are, a living example that the most remarkable and solid trend in modern diplomacy is still that good-old solidarity.

Dear colleagues, Ukraine is proud of its centuries-old and deeply rooted historical ties with Turkey. Although at some periods we passed through the phases of contestation and Turkey remained supportive of fight for Ukrainian freedom. Let me remind you that in October 1914 the Turkish leadership recognized the Lviv-based Union of the Liberation of Ukraine, which fought for Ukraine’s independence.

As of now, we enjoy a true strategic partnership, which has genuinely surged over the last years. First and foremost thanks to the excellent personal connection of our leaders, presidents Zelenskyi and Erdogan.

Ukraine and Turkey belong to the same geographic region but it is not only geography that we share.

And here comes another essential trend in diplomacy - responsible cooperation.

Today we have a common responsibility for the resolution of numerous security challenges of the day. Problem number one is Russia’s militarization of Crimea and the Black Sea region, which poses a serious threat to the entire regional security.

Since 2014, Moscow has more than tripled its military presence in Crimea. There is evidence that Russia prepares Crimean military infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons. Wider Azov and Black Sea regions and the Mediterranean are in danger.

Taking into account increasing regional threats and their implications for stability and security of the Black Sea borders, in 2020 we initiated a new Quadriga format with Turkey – joint meetings of Foreign and Defense Ministers.

Over the past few years, the list of Kremlin’s aggressive actions grew by leaps and bounds. Russia kept testing the limits of NATO, continued to sow division within the West, discrediting the democratic values, supporting autocratic regimes around the globe, making attempts at rewriting history, meddling in foreign elections, hacking electronic systems of foreign businesses and government agencies, and poisoning those who were deemed a threat to the Putin regime.

Ukraine has been countering Russian aggression for over seven years. As a country that has not yet become a member of NATO, Ukraine enjoys no security guarantees from other states. That’s the reality. Therefore, our security depends on ourselves and our partnership with true friends like Turkey.

To be frank, we learned one lesson from the dark history of the Ukrainian people: mobilize international support, but rely on yourself, your own army, your own diplomacy. And that`s why your education and your studies are important for the future and for the security of Ukraine.

Today, we rely on ourselves. But we also consolidate international support of Ukraine.

Here comes the third important trend in diplomacy – consolidation for resilience and defense.

Ukraine implements a pro-active foreign policy and comes up with new initiatives, creating new regional alliances – Lublin Triangle, Associated Trio, Quadriga.

A vivid example of Ukraine’s new, mature and proactive foreign policy is the recently launched Crimea Platform. It is a new international format aimed at ensuring the de-occupation of Crimea by peaceful means.

On August 23rd, Ukraine welcomed 46 delegations of foreign states and international organizations, which came to Kyiv to participate in the Inaugural Crimea Platform Summit. I am particularly pleased that this initiative was supported vigorously by our friend and strategic partner – the Republic of Turkey.

There is much work ahead of us, but having launched the Crimea Platform we succeeded in achieving two tangible results:

We returned the issue of Crimea to the highest level of international agenda;

  • We demonstrated the strength of Ukraine’s partnership within G7 countries, EU and NATO member states on the issue of their unequivocal support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and protection of common values and international legal norms.
  • We strongly believe that in order to safeguard the space of prosperity and stability based on the international law and democratic standards, a strategic security axis “Arctic - Baltic Sea - Black Sea” should be in the focus of Euro-Atlantic community and of our international partners for the next years.

We need to consolidate our partners around this axis and we are already doing that.

The priority areas of further cooperation could be strong economic links and trade, energy security, integrated transport corridors, joint military and security formats, countering propaganda and cyber security threats and of course facilitating people-to-people contacts.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

To conclude, let me say that friendly relations between Ukraine and Turkey primarily depend on better interpersonal relations of our citizens. And I was happy to see Ukrainian tourists in Antalya while visiting Mevlut at the Antalya Diplomatic Forum – the great Initiative and a great format proposed by Turkey. At the same time I was happy to see the Turkish tourists and Turkish businessmen in Lviv, who were yesterday welcoming Mevlut on the streets. We need more people to people contacts, we need more Turkish students in Ukraine, we need more Turkish-Ukrainian studies and yesterday we agreed that Foreign Ministries of our countries will make more efforts and will come up with an initiative to deepen our cooperation in this field and to have more Ukrainian studies in Turkey and more Turkish studies in Ukraine.

The strength of our “soft power”, our mutual interest in the history, culture and languages of each other is the key to success.

Turkey ranks 6th by the number of its students in Ukraine’s universities. Almost 4 thousand Turkish students study in Ukraine’s higher education institutions.

Turkish and Ukrainian students have a chance to form long-lasting friendships, trust and understanding with each other. This is the best guarantee of our bilateral cooperation.

Let me use this opportunity to encourage young students to build bridges of friendship with other nations, in order to support the trends that I focused on: solidarity, responsible cooperation and consolidation!

Humanity faces numerous challenges – so there will be plenty of work for us in the years to come.

Let me once again wish students and professors of Lviv National University a very successful academic year and ambitious research projects.

Foreign Ministry of Ukraine looks forward to meeting you in a new, professional status of Ukrainian diplomats. We create new career opportunities for talented youth by holding transparent competitions and opening our doors to those, for whom diplomacy is a calling, not merely a profession or a prestigious academic diploma.

This year we launched a new competition for a special internship program named after the first foreign minister of independent Ukraine and one of the founders of the modern Ukrainian state, Anatolii Zlenko. I am pleased that one of the recent graduates of the Lviv National University has joined our team as a part of this program. The program is ongoing, so good luck and best wishes to all those who decide to join the MFA team!

Thank you for your attention!

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