Ukrainian ambassador awaits president’s visitYurii Mushka, Ukrainian ambassador to Korea since July, is suddenly one of the busiest men in Seoul as he prepares for the visit of President Viktor Yushchenko next month. The ambassador said the main topic for discussion during President Yushchenko’s visit will be Ukraine’s voluntary dismantling of its nuclear program. He added that Ukraine’s experience of exchanging possession of nuclear weapons for the guarantee of sovereignty and economic security could provide good advice to South Korea as it tries to resolve the nuclear issue with North Korea.
Mr. Mushka was one of the top-level negotiators when Ukraine was working with the United States, Britain and Russia in 1994 to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In exchange for dismantling its nuclear weapons Ukraine was granted immunity from forced attacks by countries possessing nuclear weapons and guaranteed economic security. Not long after the treaty was signed, France and China issued Ukraine similar unilateral guarantees.
By 1996 Ukraine had either destroyed or sent to Russia over 3,000 tactical nuclear warheads and 176 intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as 46 bombers.
It was the first case where a nation voluntarily gave up its nuclear warheads through negotiation and diplomacy.
The ambassador said there was no public opposition in Ukraine to the policy because nobody saw the need to keep its nuclear warheads. He said it was more important to find the funding required for the recovery of the country. There was a consensus that it was too much of an economic and a security burden to keep nuclear weapons. Additionally, for Ukrainians the horror of the 1984 Chernobyl nuclear accident was still clear in their memories. Mr. Mushka said after 20 to 30 years the world will see that Ukraine made the right choice when it gave up its nuclear weapons.
He stressed that nuclear weapons are never a means to feed people and help them live.
Another topic that the Ukrainian President will address during his visit to Seoul will be economic cooperation. Recently a large group of investors from Ukraine visited Seoul ,and Ukraine hopes for Korean investment, the ambassador said.
Ukraine is especially looking for investors to invest in a new town close to the capital, Kiev, that is planned to accommodate 100,000 people.
The ambassador said the new town will be environmentally friendly. It will have a residential area as well as a commercial area. The new town needs construction companies to participate in the establishment of an international airport and other infrastructure such as roads and rail links.
Mr. Mushka said Ukraine has highly advanced technology in aerospace science. It is also has a strong chemicals industry and Ukraine sees these areas as a basis for greater economic cooperation. For example, the U.S.-based Sea Launch Company that launched a Korean telecommunication satellite this year was jointly managed by companies in four countries ― the United States, Norway, Russia and Ukraine.
The ambassador said he will do his best to increase the degree of cooperation and the range of exchanges in education and culture between the two countries.
Mr. Mushka said that while there are a lot of students from Ukraine in Korea, it isn’t the same the other way around. To solve this problem he plans to promote an exchange program where Korean students could earn credits from schools in Ukraine while Ukranian students could earn credits in Korea.
As for his most cherished goal during his tenure in Korea, Mr. Mushka said his greatest personal wish is to see the start of direct flights between the two countries.
by Choi Ji-young