Ukraine and Indonesia: a Productive Partnership Despite the Distance

An artist performs during the annual Kiev Fire Fest in Kiev, Ukraine, on June 11. (Reuters Photo/Valentyn Ogirenko)

By : Volodymyr Pakhil | on 11:10 PM June 27, 2016
Category : Opinion, Commentary

On 28 June 1996, after five years of independence, Ukraine adopted its Constitution. The twentieth anniversary of this milestone is, for Ukraine, an opportunity to assess the country’s place within the international community and the development of mutually beneficial relations with our partner countries, among which Indonesia, as a regional leader, has a prominent place.

Relations between Ukraine and Indonesia are developing in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation. Despite the great distance between the two countries, bilateral cooperation has always been productive. Over twenty-five years of diplomatic ties almost two dozen agreements were signed. Bilateral trade at one point reached $1 billion, and we believe that is not the limit.

The two countries have a history of mutual support. When Indonesia needed the United Nations Security Council to recognize its independence, it was Ukraine’s delegation to the United Nations that supported Indonesia and put the issue on the agenda.

Decades later, the partner countries continued helping each other in times of need. When the deadly 2006 earthquake struck Yogyakarta, Ukraine dispatched humanitarian aid. In 2014 Indonesian pharmaceutical corporations responded to Ukraine’s plea for medicines for the victims of the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

2014 was of course the year that Ukraine became the target of an armed external aggression that challenged the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state. Indonesia was one of the first countries in South-East Asia to declare its firm support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to refuse to acknowledge any illegal border-shifting. For this we are extremely grateful.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the adoption of our basic law, Ukrainians recall that our country played a key role in developing the concept of a constitution. Ukraine’s first such document, the Pylyp Orlyk Constitution of Rights and Freedoms, dates back to 1710, while the United States Constitution came much later, in 1787, the Constitutions of Poland and France — in 1791.

Today, Ukraine continues to be a leader of innovative thought.

The country has a very high scientific potential. With a 99.7 percent literacy rate, it is the fourth most educated nation in the world. Ukraine currently ranks number one in software engineering in Central-Eastern Europe, and top three for certified IT professionals globally. It has the world’s fourth airspace industry, and is the manufacturer of the world’s largest airplane, the cargo giant Mriya-225. Ukraine is equally advanced in the military engineering sector.

Another one of Ukraine’s key trades, known all around the world and for centuries, is agriculture. In the 19th century Europe nicknamed Ukraine its “breadbasket,” and no wonder! One-third of the world’s richest black soil is found within the borders of Ukraine.

Indonesia is well known to Ukrainians as a paradise travel destination. Around three thousand Ukrainian citizens visit Indonesia each year. As Indonesia recently introduced a visa-on-arrival regime for Ukrainian passports, we expect this number to grow closer to Thailand’s statistic, which is now up to forty thousand Ukrainian visitors annually.

Conversely, for Indonesians Ukraine can be a country of great tourism potential. Ukraine has a long and rich history, a vivid culture, and a four-season climate on a par with its European neighbors, but is a destination of significantly lower prices.

Like Indonesians, Ukrainians are generous and welcoming. Interestingly, there are many elements of similarity between the two countries. For example, Ukraine’s indigenous art of Pysanka (wax-resist dyeing of eggs) is very similar to the Indonesian Batik technique.

While the current external aggression in the east of Ukraine is affecting seven percent of the territory adversely, the rest of the country continues to develop and progress. The cooperation potential is immense, particularly in trade, investment, agriculture, education. I, as Ambassador, am committed to fulfilling this potential and further strengthening relations between Ukraine and Indonesia.

The writer Volodymyr Pakhil is the Ukraine Ambassador to the Indonesia

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