Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland Press Conference
February 7, 2014
Begin text of Opening Statement:
Thank you for being here as I end two days here in Kyiv meeting with Government officials, meeting with representatives of the opposition, meeting with representatives from the business community and other interested stakeholders.
Before I get into the business of the visit, let me just say on behalf of the United States that for twenty-two years the United States has been very proud to support the sovereignty, the democracy, and the prosperity of an independent Ukraine. We have made a twenty-two year investment in the sovereignty, and democracy and prosperity of Ukraine. I am here first and foremost to say that America continues to stand with all Ukrainians, who see their future that way, who want to live in a sovereign, peaceful, democratic, stable, prosperous country.
My mission here today on behalf of my government was to continue the conversation that we are having with members of the government, members of the opposition, members of civil society, to try to address the deep issues here and to try to bring together a moderate center of individuals who are prepared to work for de-escalation of tensions, restoration of human dignity and human rights, political reform and a restoration of a political center here that can work together, a national technical government, as most Ukrainians have called for, that can take Ukraine back to economic health, back to support from the IMF, back to Europe, and to free and fair elections.
Our message today was we believe that is still possible, we believe that is urgently necessary, and to call on all those Ukrainians who are prepared to work for it and to give concrete, to share concrete ideas: some of them are ours, some of them are ideas that Ukrainians themselves have had that we support, some of them are from the United Nations, some of them are from our European partners, of how Ukrainians can walk together to a better future, to the future this country deserves.
So, with President Yanukovych, with his government, with leaders in the opposition, with key figures in the Rada, key figures in the business community, our message was very clear – the very first most important issue here is de-escalating the tensions on the street, giving Ukrainians who are agitating for justice, agitating for human dignity, agitating for fair treatment by their government, confidence that the government will defend and support the human rights of its people first and foremost. And that this situation can be settled non-violently. There is no place for violence.
The second issue was to try to support those in the Ukrainian system who are working together on the kind of constitutional reform and electoral reform that would be necessary to have a government of national unity, to have a technical government with whom the international community can work, with whom the IMF can work, with whom we can work, to restore economic prosperity and security here in Ukraine.
So, we worked on all of those things. I will say that all of the meetings were very hard working, the spirit was good, but there is a lot of work to do. I was gratified to see positive statements from Bankova on the session that we had yesterday, I was pleased to see the President make clear that he will continue the dialogue that he has started with key opposition leaders. I understand that he will meet with Ban Ki-moon today in Sochi, that’s an important meeting as well, and we will stay engaged in the days and weeks ahead. I’m ready to take your questions. Please.
End text of Opening Statement.
Mykola Siruk (Den): …I have some short question and one big; considering this leakage which allegedly have Russian intelligence made about your conversation with Mr. Ambassador. Does it mean that the relations between U.S. and Russia begun un-resetting, un-resetting relations, …the end of the resetting relations with Russia. And the second question, considering there is a lot of talk about new Marshall Plan for Ukraine. The European Tusk, Donald Tusk travels around the Europe making some propositions. Ashton yesterday has told that Ukrainians do not need any Marshall plan, need Ukrainian plan. What is your consideration about plans for Ukraine, because there is a lot of editorials in American papers say Ukraine, do not let Ukraine, do not let Putin grab Ukraine.
A/S Nuland: Well, on your first issue I’m obviously not going to comment on private diplomatic conversations, other than to say, it was pretty impressive tradecraft, the audio was extremely clear. What I would say with regard to U.S.-Russia relations, you know that they are very broad, they are very deep, they are often complex. We do a lot of things together around the world, when the U.S. and Russia can work together, whether it’s on problems like Iran or Syria, arms control. The world is a better place. But we will also always be candid with Russia when we disagree, whether it’s with regard to their policies inside Russia, or whether with regard to other policies, including policies in the neighborhood. We have been in conversation with Russia with regard to the situation in Ukraine. Our message has been that we all: Ukrainians, Russians, Americans, all of Ukraine’s neighbors have an interest in a stable, peaceful, democratic Ukraine. That’s what the United States is working to support. And we are asking what Russia is working to support. With regard to Marshall Plan, we talked quite extensively in all of our meetings about the support that the international community, including the United States, is prepared to give a Ukraine that is moving quickly towards human rights and human dignity, de-escalation of the tensions, political reform, a national technical government and the IMF. But nobody is going to give economic support from the United States or from the IMF, or from Europe, to an unreformed Ukraine.
A/S Nuland: Please.
Max Seddon (BuzzFeed): ...Two questions. Firstly on the call, what security measures did you have that obviously did not stop the Russians, or whoever it was, from listening in and are you going to be taking any additional measures to safeguard your communications in future now that this has happened? And secondly, about the interview in Kommersantyesterday with Glaziev talking about how the U.S. is spending I think twenty million dollars a week he said on trying to overthrow the government, including training armed fighters on Embassy grounds here. How seriously do you take public statements from Glaziev on Ukraine and do these affect your closed-door conversations you have with the Russians on Ukraine? Do you think it's really possible to have a constructive dialogue of Ukraine when they send their Ukraine guy out to say things like that?
A/S Nuland: First, I think I've said what I'm going to say about private, diplomatic conversations.
Seddon: I wasn't asking about private conversations I was asking about the security...
A/S Nuland: I understand, I think I will not talk about U.S. security measures either in this context. With regard to Mr. Glaziev's statements - complete fantasy. He could be a science fiction writer. It's, you know it is, but it is quite inventive, it's quite inventive. The United States is absolutely transparent about what our policy is here in Ukraine. Ask any Ukrainians that we met with that our Ambassador meets with, what our relationship is about, it’s about support for a Ukrainian plan back to human dignity, back to political reform, back to economic health.
Seddon: But your relationship with Russia..(inaudible)
A/S Nuland: As I said, we are having, how should we put it? Frank and comradely exchanges with the Russians about the situation here in Ukraine. Those will continue. We will continue to make the point that we believe we have a shared interest in stability and prosperity here. We want Ukraine to have a strong economic and political relationship with its Russian neighbor, but we want Ukraine to be able to do that the way she wants to do it, which is on the basis of being independent, being strong, making her own choices.
A/S Nuland: Please.
Evgeniy Rozhkov (Rossiya TV): Good afternoon... In Russian: Could you tell us, please, we became unwilling witnesses of a conversation that popped up on the internet. One feels like asking what makes you like Yatsenyuk so much, and what makes you not like Klichko? And, tell us please precisely how much has the U.S. spent on developing democratic institutions in Ukraine, and what might be the total amount of assistance that could come jointly with the EU?
A/S Nuland: In regard to our relations with individual members of the opposition, we nationally, I personally, my Ambassador, have very strong, close relations with each of the key members of the opposition. I've now been to Ukraine four times in the last three months, had an opportunity to meet with them individually, had an opportunity to meet with them together. They know absolutely where we stand in terms of our support for a peaceful, democratic, non-violent solution to the problems here. We've met with them here, we met with them in Munich. Secretary Kerry met with them and conveyed the same message and he now has a strong personal relationship with each of them. With regard to support that the United States might be able to give, with support that the IMF might be able to give, as I said, the support will be substantial for a Ukraine that is reforming.
A/S Nuland: One more and then I've got to runt to the airport. Please.
Volodymyr Karahuyar (Spilnobachennya): In Ukrainian and Russian: I have a question. I can do it in Russian. There is a lot of information that America talks to and personally supports many leaders of the opposition. When will a full-fledged inclusive process start, a conversation, not only with the opposition, but also with civil society, with representatives of civil society on Maidan. Part of them, a large part, do not support the opposition, because the opposition already gave up everything it could. When will you start the process of truly talking to the Ukrainian people?
A/S Nuland: We consider it essential to keep America's doors open, to keep our Embassy's doors open, to civil society. On my trips to Ukraine I have met, I have been down to the Maidan a number of times. I met with journalists today who were under threat. I've also met with young journalists that we support. I've met with students and young people. Our Embassy and our Ambassador maintain a rich program of outreach to all kinds of groups: to religious leaders, to business leaders, to students, to people on the Maidan, to people out in the regions. We send our people out to visit western Ukraine, to visit eastern Ukraine, so that we can hear from all Ukrainians what kind of future they want, what kind of choice they want, how America can support the restoration of human rights here. A civil, peaceful, united conversation about the way forward politically and economically and how we can help, and we will continue to do that, we're proud to do that. Civil society is the key actor in this situation. It is for politicians to serve society, not the other way around and we are very cognizant of that. Thank you so much.