Peace in the de-occupied Donbass, Crimea as part of our state, Ukraine an active international player – these are three key goals that will determine priorities for the diplomatic team of Ukraine in 2021.

Maintaining and strengthening international support for Ukraine is the number one priority. Through the development of active bilateral cooperation with strategic partners – the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Poland, Lithuania, Azerbaijan – we will work to ensure that Ukraine always has in its arsenal sufficient external tools and means to confidently overcome world challenges.

Work will continue on the implementation of the agreements of the leaders of the Normandy Four countries in Paris.

In 2021, we aim to host the next Normandy format summit. Its strategic task will be to discuss the key issue of establishing peace in Donbass on Ukrainian terms. Here and in the future, we count on the support of our partners in the Normandy format – Germany and France.

Maintaining the current ceasefire, revitalizing the work of the Trilateral Contact Group, further exchange of detainees, the functioning of existing checkpoints and the full opening of new ones, the disengagement of forces and equipment in the new agreed areas, the implementation of an updated demining plan, ensuring the ICRC and other international humanitarian organizations have access to detainees, unimpeded access of the OSCE SMM to the occupied territories – these are just some of our tactical tasks.

We will continue to work on increasing international pressure on the Russian Federation to fulfill its obligations. Sanctions against Russia help Ukraine in the process of a peaceful settlement, therefore, they must be maintained until the status quo is fully restored, which Ukrainian diplomacy has been working on non-stop from year to year and will continue to work successfully in the future.

Last year, the Crimea issue was returned to the international agenda. This means that in 2021 we must focus on meaningful work. The results of the summit of the leaders of the partner states in support of the international format of the Crimean platform, which we are preparing to hold in Ukraine in the summer of 2021, will be important.

In a bilateral dialogue with our key partners, we have a number of important tasks.

We aim to build an effective dialogue with the new US administration at all levels, including the highest. The official visit of the President of Ukraine to the USA remains on the agenda. We are already working out a new meaningful Roadmap for bilateral relations, which should be discussed and implemented already in 2021. Among the important tasks is the establishment of a systematic dialogue with representatives of the renewed Congress for the sake of further strengthening bipartisan support for Ukraine. We will work to ensure that the updated US policy would contribute to strengthening transatlantic unity, strengthening NATO, expanding and strengthening security support for Ukraine. A separate block of issues is new economic projects between Ukraine and the United States in the field of agriculture, energy, information technology.

We will continue Ukrainian-French interaction in the political and economic spheres. In the first half of 2021, we are preparing for meaningful negotiations at the highest level during the official visit of French President Macron to Ukraine, during which we will start a number of new economic projects.

Taking into account the parliamentary elections in Germany scheduled for the fall of 2021, we will work to strengthen the Ukrainian issue in the electoral programs of the leading political parties of the Federal Republic of Germany – the position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Given the close friendly relations that President Zelensky has established with the Italian Prime Minister during his visit to this state, we expect the visit of the head of the Italian government to Ukraine, which is to take place in 2021.

We will continue an active dialogue and interaction with other G7 states – we will implement the established strategic partnership with Great Britain, we will conduct a fruitful dialogue on mobility and visa-free travel with Canada, and we will work on the implementation of economic projects with the new government of Japan.

Among the most important tasks in relations with the EU for 2021 is the start of consultations on updating the Association Agreement, as well as the signing of an agreement on the Common Aviation Area already at the beginning of 2021. At the end of the first quarter of 2021, the EC expert mission will be able to provide its conclusions on Ukraine’s readiness to conclude an agreement on “industrial visa-free travel, and we will begin to implement the relevant recommendations; based on the results, we should begin formal negotiations to conclude this agreement. In 2021, we also intend to start a substantive dialogue with the EU on involving Ukraine in the implementation of the European Green Agreement.

In the sphere of relations with NATO, our task is to make the most of the status of a NATO partner with expanded capabilities to bring Ukraine closer to membership in the Alliance. We are waiting for the partners’ reaction to the proposals on this matter, which the President made to the NATO Secretary-General. We will make efforts so that a full-fledged meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission at the highest level takes place in 2021. Our key task for the next year is to take into account Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic goals in the decisions of the leaders of NATO member countries at the next Alliance summit.

Realization of the interests of Ukraine in the regional dimension will be an equally important priority.

Strengthening the strategic partnership between Ukraine and Turkey, our important partner in the Black Sea region, is of particular importance. We plan to hold the next high-level Strategic Council between Ukraine and Turkey under the co-chairmanship of the two presidents in early 2021.

Increasing Ukraine’s participation in regional structures remains on the agenda.

It will be important to work out a clear algorithm for Ukraine to obtain observer status in the Primorye initiative.

A remarkable achievement of the past year was the successfully carried out diplomatic work, the result of which is the election of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary to the post of head of the Danube Commission – therefore, it is necessary to implement this primacy in practice.

In relations with Hungary, we want to reach mutual trust and support, so we will look for means of developing a constructive dialogue on sensitive issues. We are preparing for a meeting of the leaders of both states. It should end with the signing of a new document – a kind of mutually beneficial roadmap for our relations.

We will start the new year with a restart of bilateral relations with Moldova – on January 12, the newly elected President Maia Sandu will make an official visit to Ukraine, which will be her first since her election.

The Nordic and Baltic states are our reliable allies, with whom we plan to maintain a dynamic of active contacts and interaction. We look forward to a fruitful cooperation with Sweden as the acting head of the OSCE in 2021, and with Norway as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2021-2022. We will maintain the dynamics of intensive contacts with Lithuania – in 2021 we plan to hold a Council of Presidents of Ukraine and the Republic of Lithuania.

Poland remains our important strategic partner: here and further we continue to pursue a course directed towards the future – the development of our strong economic, security, and political relations.

We are working on organizing the Asian tour of the President of Ukraine in the second half of 2021. We have many economic interests in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore – these will be the main directions of this tour.

In relations with China, the key task is to develop mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, first of all, to further increase the volume of exports of Ukrainian products to this state, expand the range of exported goods, and strengthen the positions of Ukrainian agricultural producers in the Chinese market. Involving the Chinese side in the implementation of certain infrastructure projects in Ukraine will remain an urgent task.

Finally, India should fully open up for Ukraine – there are all prerequisites for this. Today we are actively establishing cooperation in some projects.

United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – we will open up new opportunities for promoting Ukrainian interests in the Gulf states. Ukraine’s participation in the EXPO-2020 World Exhibition in Dubai, where a separate full-fledged pavilion, independently built by Ukraine, will be presented for the first time, will become an important event for our state, in terms of both the image and presentation of its economic potential.

Given the increasing relevance for the world community of environmental protection and climate change prevention, Ukraine will be an active participant in all discussions on this topic. We are planning the participation of the head of state in the conference of the parties to the Paris Agreement in Glasgow.

Ukrainian diplomacy has always served as strong support for internal processes in the state. First of all, this is attracting international assistance for the implementation of reforms in Ukraine. During a pandemic, this also means supporting the health care system and vaccinating the population. Negotiating with key partners to provide Ukraine with a licensed western-made anti-coronavirus vaccine that is trusted in the world is among the priority tasks.

In 2021 Ukraine will have a number of anniversary events.

The 30th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence provides an opportunity to hold important forums in Kiev, in which, we hope, the leaders of Ukraine’s partner states will be able to participate. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew announced his readiness to make a visit to Ukraine.

The 80th anniversary of Babi Yar reminds us of the importance of further ensuring the world’s attention to Ukrainians who organized the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust. We will reapply to Yad Vashem with relevant requests. And we also expect distinguished guests at special events.

These are just a few of the priority areas for the foreign policy team led by the president in 2021. But in today’s rapidly changing world, new ones are bound to appear. And we must also be ready for their implementation.

© The Eastern Herald
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Dmitri Agafonov
A political analyst who keeps a close eye on Russian and international relations. Studied Economics at Leningrad State University, St. Petersberg in Russia. A contributor to The Eastern Herald from Russia.