Ukraine pushing to forge strategic partnership with S. Korea: Ukraine envoy

August 23, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Yonhap) — Ukraine is seeking to upgrade its relations with South Korea into a strategic partnership by broadening bilateral ties to encompass security issues as the two countries are set to mark the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations next year, Kyiv’s ambassador to South Korea said.

“We are pushing a lot of projects. We are doing all of our best together with our Korean partners and colleagues. Step by step, we are going to (bring) our relations to the level of strategic partnership,” Ukraine’s Ambassador to South Korea Vasyl Marmazov said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Aug. 3.

“It’s the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, and now is the right time to increase our relations in different fields,” the ambassador said, citing political dialogue and collaboration work in the science and technology sectors as potential fields for extended cooperation.

As part of those efforts, Ukraine has officially invited President Park Geun-hye to visit the country on the occasion of the upcoming anniversary although no decision has been made yet, the ambassador noted.

“Definitely dialogue between heads of state is a very important push to fuel bilateral relations, and that’s why we hope to receive the Korean president,” he said. “We are not decided on time, but we are discussing with the Korean ministry of foreign affairs about an appropriate date for a visit.”

“If it happens next year, it will be very symbolic,” he highlighted.

A meeting of the countries’ bilateral commission for trade and economic issues is set for October, the third of its kind since the inaugural gathering was held in late 2011. The upcoming meeting will be a milestone in paving the way for tighter relations, he stressed.

“(The meeting will) provide Korean representatives with some possibilities for investment because we are very interested in inviting Korean companies to be more active in Ukrainian markets,” the ambassador said.

He referred to infrastructure building, agriculture, space, tourism, science and technology as promising spheres where the two countries could build tighter economic collaboration.

Kyiv’s vision for a strategic partnership with Seoul will also encompass the security front, Marmazov said, referring to the Ukrainian defense ministry’s willingness to participate in the annual Seoul Defense Dialogue hosted by the South Korean defense ministry.

“It is a good high-level venue to discuss international and regional security issues,” he noted.

Marmazov also committed to provide full support for South Korea’s push to secure international implementation of United Nations Security Resolution 2270 adopted in March to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests. The North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January despite warnings by the international community at large.

“As a UNSC nonpermanent member, we were completely supportive of the relevant Security Council’s Resolution 2270, as well as the unilateral actions taken by Seoul, in order to put pressure on Pyongyang,” he said. “The South Korean government can count on Ukraine’s support in actions to assure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

In the aftermath of the recent North Korean military provocations, “nobody (in Ukraine) has been accredited as ambassador to North Korea, and an ambassador of the DPRK (North Korea) has not been accredited to Ukraine until now,” Marmazov said.

On the part of Ukraine, it is currently seeking a visa-free regime for its people who want to travel to South Korea, the ambassador said. Next year will be a year of active people-to-people exchanges, and it’s very important to make a next step toward liberalization of the visa regime for Ukraine citizens,” the diplomat said.

Ukraine's Ambassador to South Korea Vasyl Marmazov speaks during an interview with Yonhap News Agecy on Aug. 3, 2016 at the Ukraine Embassy in central Seoul.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to South Korea Vasyl Marmazov speaks during an interview with Yonhap News Agecy on Aug. 3, 2016 at the Ukraine Embassy in central Seoul.

Touching on Russia’s armed annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the ambassador said Ukraine together with foreign partners on a bilateral and multilateral basis are taking the necessary steps to draw international attention to the issue.

“One day, I am confident Ukraine will regain control over the peninsula,” he added.