Weekly Trust - - Interview - Ab­bas Ji­moh & Ab­dul­la­teef Salau DT: What about Ukraine’s re­la­tion­ship with Nige­ria? DT: Does Ukraine have mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion with Nige­ria? Alek­san­druk: DT: How do you look at the fu­ture of Nige­ria- Ukraine re­la­tions? Alek­san­druk:

Daily Trust: How deep is Ukraine’s re­la­tions with Africa? Dr. Va­lerii Alek­san­druk: The years of mem­ber­ship of Ukraine in the United Na­tions were closely re­lated with the African con­ti­nent. Ukraine was one of the strong­est fight­ers against colo­nial­ism, apartheid and race dis­crim­i­na­tion. Be­ing a mem­ber of the UN spe­cial com­mit­tee against apartheid for many years, Ukraine strug­gled against dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equal­ity in Africa. The feel­ing of free­dom is in the blood of the Ukrainian na­tion and it came to us from the times of Cos­saks who were very brave war­riors. I would like to talk about the first Cos­sak’s Con­sti­tu­tion of Py­lyp Or­lyk of 1710, which is rec­og­nized as one of the best state cre­ated doc­u­ments in Euro­pean his­tory.

By the way, the well-known air­port, Orly in Paris, has di­rect ties with the name of Py­lyp Or­lyk. Ukraine’s eter­nal feel­ing of free­dom was re­al­ized after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The mon­u­men­tal in­de­pen­dence dec­la­ra­tion of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Par­lia­ment) 26 years ago en­abled Ukraini­ans to re­claim their land from the Soviet regime and se­cure their ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and sovereignty.

The new state has en­tered the in­ter­na­tional arena. A strate­gic course to­wards Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion has been cho­sen in the for­eign pol­icy of Ukraine and has re­mained strictly un­change­able de­spite the fact that Rus­sia is try­ing to keep Ukraine in the sphere of its in­ter­ests. By the way, do you know that the geo­graphic cen­ter of the Euro­pean con­ti­nent is sit­u­ated in Ukraine?

After in­de­pen­dence, Ukraine started build­ing ef­fec­tive diplo­matic ser­vice, in­ter alia, in the African space. The Em­bassy of Ukraine in Nige­ria opened in 2001. The sphere of re­spon­si­bil­ity of our em­bassy in­cludes five states in West Africa in­clud­ing Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo. The zone of con­sular ac­count­abil­ity of the em­bassy in Abuja also in­cludes The Gam­bia and Sao Tome and Principe.

In the bi­lat­eral sphere Ukraine is build­ing strate­gic part­ner­ships with key for­eign part­ners on the prin­ci­ples of rec­i­proc­ity and prag­ma­tism, de­vel­op­ing a net­work of longterm part­ner­ship with the states that be­come new cen­ters of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Ukraine has pre­sented it­self as a re­spon­si­ble in­ter­na­tional part­ner. It showed an ex­am­ple of nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment, hav­ing vol­un­tar­ily aban­doned, after USSR’s fall­ing, the third largest nu­clear weapons ar­se­nal in the world that con­trib­utes to the over­all sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity in the world. Be­ing a vic­tim of one of the big­gest nu­clear catas­tro­phe in hu­man his­tory - Ch­er­nobyl Nu­clear Power works in 1986, Ukraine re­mains con­fi­dent of the prin­ci­ples of non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and elim­i­na­tion of nu­clear weapons.

I am very pleased to be ap­pointed as Am­bas­sador to the very im­por­tant coun­try that plays key role, not only in West Africa but on the en­tire African con­ti­nent and in the world Ukraine cel­e­brated its 26th in­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary on Au­gust 24. The coun­try’s Am­bas­sador Ex­traor­di­naire and Plenipo­ten­tiary to Nige­ria, Dr. Va­lerii Alek­san­druk, told jour­nal­ists in Abuja that Nige­ria and Ukraine have more in com­mon than what sep­a­rates them. Ex­cerpts:

Alek­san­druk: I am very pleased to be ap­pointed as am­bas­sador to the very im­por­tant coun­try that plays key role, not only in West Africa but on the en­tire African con­ti­nent and in the world. Ukraine pays spe­cial at­ten­tion to de­vel­op­ing deeper re­la­tions with Nige­ria. As the Ukrainian Am­bas­sador, I am do­ing my best to pro­mote our re­la­tions to a level never seen be­fore. It is a plea­sure to note that Ukraine and Nige­ria en­joy fruit­ful co­op­er­a­tion within the frame­work of in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. Ukraine con­sid­ers Nige­ria an im­por­tant part­ner, es­pe­cially in the area of trade and in­vest­ments. Ukraine is in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing re­la­tions with West Africa, in par­tic­u­lar, with ECOWAS. Cur­rently, we are look­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing the Free Trade Area with ECOWAS. The readi­ness of our two coun­tries to con­tinue po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and to get deeper co­op­er­a­tion in dif­fer­ent fields was con­firmed dur­ing the meet­ing of the Min­is­ters of For­eign Af­fairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin and Nige­ria’s Ge­of­frey Onyama on March 1, 2016 in Geneva, also in May 2016 in the course of third ses­sion of the bi­lat­eral po­lit­i­cal con­sul­ta­tions in Abuja, as well as dur­ing my last meet­ing with Onyeama on Au­gust 25.

Our re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped quite well in re­cent years. In the eco­nomic field, Nige­ria is al­ready one of the most im­por­tant com­mer­cial part­ners of Ukraine in Sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa. And, ac­cord­ing to Ukrainian statis­tics, the com­mer­cial trade turnover be­tween Ukraine and Nige­ria for six months of this year has a sig­nif­i­cant growth of over 119 per cent, worth about $ 61 mil­lion, and this fig­ure must in­crease. We be­lieve that there are lots of ar­eas where we can deepen our re­la­tions and de­velop them fur­ther, such as in the ar­eas of agri­cul­ture, min­ing, re­new­able en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture, where Ukrainian com­pa­nies have great ex­per­tise. The pres­ence of sev­eral Ukrainian com­pa­nies in Nige­ria is a tes­ti­mony to the level of con­fi­dence my gov­ern­ment has in Nige­ria. We are very pleased to see that more and more Ukrainian com­pa­nies are look­ing for new op­por­tu­ni­ties in Nige­ria. Ukraine is en­cour­ag­ing more of its com­pa­nies to come into Nige­ria and in­vest as well as es­tab­lish part­ner­ships with Nige­rian com­pa­nies. The great mu­tual in­ter­est to eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion is proved also by the first Ukrainian-Nige­rian busi­ness fo­rum held suc­cess­fully in Kyiev ear­lier in May.

Nige­ria and Ukraine have en­joyed good mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion. As an am­bas­sador, I have done a lot to pro­mote good re­la­tion­ship be­tween Nige­ria and Ukraine for years and this is im­prov­ing by the day. The re­la­tion­ship should not lead to clo­sure but should im­prove for the bet­ter. Ukraine has sup­ported Nige­ria in fight­ing Boko Haram in­sur­gency. We sup­plied a lot of mil­i­tary equipment, am­mu­ni­tion, he­li­copter stands and other mil­i­tary equipment to fight in­sur­gency. Con­se­quently, we are in the process of sign­ing agree­ment on mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion. Presently, there are sev­eral Nige­rian del­e­ga­tions in Ukraine to sign some agree­ments and con­tracts. We pro­posed train­ing Nige­rian sol­diers be­cause we have good fa­cil­i­ties for train­ing. I would like to use this op­por­tu­nity to wish all Nige­ri­ans and their leader, Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, to suc­cess­fully over­come all chal­lenges that Nige­ria faces to­day as well as suc­cess in build­ing a pros­per­ous and peace­ful coun­try. I would like also to con­grat­u­late all Ukrainian cit­i­zens and all our sup­port­ers in Nige­ria on the oc­ca­sion of the 26th an­niver­sary of the In­de­pen­dence Day of Ukraine.

Our re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped quite well in re­cent years. In the eco­nomic field, Nige­ria is al­ready one of the most im­por­tant com­mer­cial part­ners of Ukraine in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa

I en­vis­age a very bright fu­ture. There is a very big po­ten­tial that we should ex­plore. Ours is to find ways to ex­plore this po­ten­tial. First of all, we need to ex­tend our le­gal ground to sign cou­ple of agree­ments that are very es­sen­tial in boost­ing our co­op­er­a­tion. As I said ear­lier, there are agree­ments on mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion, ed­u­ca­tion pro­mo­tion and ex­change, econ­omy and pro­tec­tion of in­vest­ment. Also, we are work­ing to pro­mote a joint in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal com­mis­sion and to es­tab­lish a com­mis­sion on trade and co­op­er­a­tion. So, sign­ing th­ese agree­ments will pro­vide strong im­pe­tus for de­vel­op­ing our co­op­er­a­tion in fu­ture. We are ask­ing the Nige­rian side to speed up so we can sign the agree­ments. Some of the ben­e­fits of the agree­ment on ed­u­ca­tion in­clude spe­cial agree­ment on re­ceiv­ing Nige­rian stu­dents in Ukraine.

Dr. Va­lerii Alek­san­druk

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