Among the partners of Ukraine a special place is taken by our good friend in the Middle East – the State of Israel. There should be no doubts that Israel remains our very important international partner, both politically and economically.
There is a very long history of relations between the Ukrainian and Jewish nations, tracing back to the ancient times. The history of modern diplomatic relations and cooperation between our states stretches back only 23 years, nevertheless, during these years the two sides have demonstrated mutual interest and the political will to strengthen and expand bilateral cooperation.
The coincidence of interests on the international scene, mutual support and most importantly mutual trust and openness, give both sides the firm basis for confidence in reliable future of relations between the two countries.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, our government and our ministry, in particular, are determined to give this cooperation a qualitatively new dimension and dynamic.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Israeli citizens on their successful March parliamentary elections, with a new government and a renewed parliament. This year, just after formation of the government and the beginning of the Knesset’s new session, we plan not only to uphold the high-quality bilateral political dialogue, but also to fill it with practical actions, to implement joint programs and projects directed, first of all, at improvement of ordinary citizens’ living standard.
Ukraine has gone through a very difficult year protecting itself from its aggressive neighbor. At the same time, we saw very good results in practically all spheres of our bilateral relations with the State of Israel. Despite all difficulties, I can state with satisfaction that the level of bilateral trade has for three years in a row exceeded $1 billion. In 2014 bilateral trade between our countries amounted to US $1 075 mln.
Both Ukraine and Israel believe trade and economic relations can be intensified by signing a free trade agreement, which we are planning to do this year. We are interested in further expansion of investment cooperation with Israel and have a solid legislative base for such cooperation, including agreement on promotion and reciprocal protection of investments, as well as the active joint work on the creation of credit mechanisms for bilateral trade.
There are many opportunities for successful cooperation: construction of commercial and residential real estate and health care, implementation of projects in the agro-industrial and military-technical spheres.
With the participation of Israeli companies in Kiev and other major Ukrainian cities, a number of shopping and entertainment centers were built, along with hotels and residential complexes, offices and logistics centers.
Many successful projects have been realized in the field of medicine. And today we are interested in cooperation on the establishment of a rehabilitation center, the creation of unified system of psychological telephone services and increasing the efficiency of the emergency services, among many other projects.
The specific character of our two economies allows us to select the agricultural sector as a priority in bilateral relations, especially the food industry. Latest statistics shows that today over half of Israel’s bread is made from Ukrainian grain.
At the same time, I am sure that further development of bilateral cooperation will bring a brighter and more prosperous future to our peoples and our countries. I do hope that new impetus will be given to our economic relations during next session of the joint Ukrainian-Israeli commission on trade and economic cooperation, which is planned for this autumn in Kiev.
There are good prospects for further development of Ukraine-Israel relations, with the “human factor” being an important element of this relationship. The Jewish Community of Ukraine and almost 400,000 repatriates from Ukraine in the Holy Land play a significant role, and have made significant contributions during the various stages of the creation and development of the State of Israel. For example, volunteers from “Israeli Friends of Ukraine” help greatly in the treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers and in sending humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine.
So, the agenda of Ukraine-Israel cooperation is saturated. I am firmly convinced that our relations with new Israeli Knesset and government will be dynamic and successful in strengthening our solidarity in the face of global challenges, and to the benefit of both states.
I wish the Israeli people and government every success on the path to Israel’s continued economic and democratic development, as well as stability and safety not only in your country, but in the wider Middle East region.
Over the coming days the Jewish people will celebrate the exit from slavery to freedom. During our Revolution of Dignity Ukraine also chose the way to freedom.
The author is Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.