Piotr Poroshenko: We are against all Soviet that have rooted in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia
13:38, — Interview
Ukrainian politician and businessmen, a billionaire Piotr Poroshenko gave an exclusive interview to charter97.org.
After the refusal of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union millions of people came out in the streets of Kiev and other cities, a nationwide strike has been announced. In order to protect the European path of development for Ukraine all the layers of society have come to the barricades: common citizens, politicians, officials, cultural elite and businessmen.
The question of charter97.org web-site’s editor-in-chief Natalia Radzina are answered by the former Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, former head of the National Bank and former Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, the parliament member and owner of the confectionary corporation Roshen Piotr Poroshenko, who is among the protesters these days.
- Mr. Poroshenko, what, to your opinion, are the real reasons for Yanukovich’s not signing the Association Agreement with the European Union?
- I think, Yanukovich simply was not ready to sign the agreement. His justification – certain number of billions, certain price, certain compensations… Guys, the association with Europe is not about that at all! An Association Agreement with the European Union is first of all values.
I cannot understand why the formation of independent judiciary, freedom of speech, democracy and free and fair elections, competitive economy and investment climate in Ukraine should be paid for from the pocket of European tax payers.
Our European colleagues made an absolutely clear and specific statement, starting from Angela Merkel in Bundestag, then European Commissioner Stefan Fule, a whole range of ministers. They stated that Europe should show solidarity with Ukraine and ensure that the access to the market is granted for Ukrainian manufacturers, support a whole range of new programs having a financial component, including the provision of micro-financing support, which amount to billions euros, for financing the reform process. These are programs in energy efficiency and ecology, these are the voices of the European Union in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, the money of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment bank and others. The main inflow of investments is made up of private investments that will come to the country with a good investment climate and create new jobs and make tax payments to the budget.
I myself want to comprehend what stands behind Yanukovich’s decision. If he suggests some intelligible economic model, he should explain that to people, because the time of undisclosed decisions has passed and is not grasped by anyone.
- Did Yanukovich actually not sign the agreement after the talks with Vladimir Putin?
- I do not rule that out. It is, of course, better be asked of Putin and Yanukovich what they agreed upon. I think, in the nearest future we will see either the implementation of these agreements or their disproof.
- Millions of Ukrainians came out in the streets demanding the resignation of the president and government for not signing the agreement with the EU. What is your prediction for the future course of events? Will Yanukovich go for the integration with the EU or will keep balancing between Russian and the European Union?
- I do not understand how he can balance. This is like a bicycle. You cannot stand on a bicycle. You can either go, or put it down.
Ukraine will face quite serious challenges in 2014, which require the distinctness as to the vector of its development. Several steps are possible here. If Ukraine’s leadership starts taking steps for withdrawing from the EU’s Energy Community, if it takes a number of other steps, which reverse our European cooperation, this will be the litmus test, defining the true goals of the people, who take decisions in the country.
Actually, it is not an option. Understand that even if Russian loans were provided today, if the access is granted to the energy market, in the end this only preserves Ukraine industry’s technological backwardness, By the way, this is totally applicable to Belarus too, as well as to Russia.
If we carry out reforms, if we attract investments, if we upgrade the technologies, this is not aimed against Russia or the European Union. This is all for the development of our country.
Rather no. The only thing it is aimed against – against the Soviet Union, which, unfortunately, has strongly rooted in all our three countries.
- The recent events in Ukraine – the dispersal of the tent camp, beating of journalists, special services provocations – strongly reminded of what has been taking place in Belarus for the recent 20 years. Ukrainian democrats also spoke a lot of political prisoners and corruption in the government at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. Is Ukraine following Belarus’ way?
- I would prefer not to discuss the geographic direction. Ukraine has serious problems. The program of cooperation with the European Union, the association’s agenda suggest specific steps towards the resolution of specific problems.
A whole section of the association’s agenda was on anti-corruption legislation: not only to accepting laws, but their implementation, starting from state purchases and ending with the transparency of budget, starting from the restructuration of Ukraine’s Naftagaz and ending with the issues of nuclear security financing. It means that the whole system of corruption prevention should be rebuilt, including the creation of the National Anti-corruption Center with broad competencies.
When we speak of the problems of democracy, the key standpoint is ensuring fair expression of popular will, the possibility to count votes, freedom of choice and cardinal changing of laws. It is the matter of presidential and parliamentary elections alike. When we speak of the freedom of speech, this freedom should be ensured with absolutely specific political steps.
Is there everything that we are talking about in Ukraine? No. Is there everything that we are talking about in Belarus? No. I do not think it is a good idea to measure, who is better and who is worse.
- Obviously, that it is still worse in Belarus.
- I was there when the Eastern Partnership originated and believed that all these six states, including Belarus, would use the advantages, provided by the Eastern Partnership. Unfortunately, as of today we can only speak of significant progress in only two countries – Georgia and Moldova.
- May be the Eastern Partnership’s strategy should be revised? The cooperation with authoritarian and even more so dictatorial regimes did not give results.
- I thing that Ukraine’s not signings the Association Agreement by fact means the failure of the Eastern Partnership. This is very bad. This actually lowers the enthusiasm of our European partners regarding all the six countries.
- Is it okay with you that the EU was ready to sign the Association Agreement with Ukraine without the release of Yulia Timoshenko?
- I like Yulia Timoshenko very much and believe that her imprisonment is inadmissible. But I like Ukraine more. If Ukraine was deprived of the opportunity to sign the Association Agreement because of Timoshenko, especially considering her statement, the responsibility for not signing would have been on European politicians, whereas the Ukrainian authorities would have remained all so goody-goody.
That is why I completely justify the actions of European politicians, the leaders of the European Union, who made the decision to sign the agreement, having put the burden of not signing it on absolutely specific people. I think that it is a right thing to do.
- Your personal attitude is clear, but what do the rest of Ukraine’s large businessmen stand for? For European integration or close cooperation with Russia?
- I will tell you a secret: they are Ukrainians too and stand for the same things as all Ukrainians.
- Is not Yanukovich afraid of losing the support of large business’ support?
- I think that the role and influence or large businesses in Ukraine is strongly overestimated, like in Belarus.
- There are only oligarchs in Belarus, who are protected by the Lukashenka regime, and feed him as gratitude. By the way, during interrogations in KGB prison after presidential elections of 2010 the current head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Ihar Shunievich asked me if Ukrainian oligarchs supported Belarusian opposition.
- I cannot even imagine what Belarusian special services are thinking. But what are all special service, unfortunately, distinctive with? They fall victims to the conspiracy theory. They do not believe that people’s protest may emerge spontaneously, that people can go protest in the streets simply for their believes.
That is why they think that there necessarily must be some conspiracy, finance necessarily by someone from abroad. I think that it is wrong. People have the right to protest, and this right must certainly be respected.
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