News / Europe

New Ukraine FM Seen Bringing Sober Style to Kyiv Diplomacy

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is seen arriving at the EU foreign ministers council at the European Council headquarters in Luxembourg city, Luxembourg, June 23, 2014.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is seen arriving at the EU foreign ministers council at the European Council headquarters in Luxembourg city, Luxembourg, June 23, 2014.
Carl Schreck, RFE/RL
One day after then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly scuttled plans to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union at a Vilnius summit, his envoy in Berlin took to German radio to explain Kyiv's decision.
 
But Pavlo Klimkin also seized the moment to express his personal frustration with the move before quickly softening his comment.
 
"I wanted the agreement to be signed in Vilnius, and personally I am also unbelievably disappointed," Klimkin said in the November 22 interview with German broadcaster RBB. "But that does not mean that in the near future we do not want to do this and cannot do this."
 
It was a brief rhetorical detour from the official line that highlighted two key strands running through the career of the man tapped last week to be Ukraine's new foreign minister: a vision of his country's future as planted squarely in Europe and a predilection for cautious diplomacy.
 
Klimkin, who was confirmed for the post on June 19 after being nominated by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, brings to his new job a reputation as a skilled negotiator and consummate diplomat capable of deftly navigating Ukraine's integration with Europe as well as its tattered ties with Moscow.
 
"We really want to join the European Union," Klimkin told German broadcaster tv.berlin in an interview earlier this year. "That's a strategic goal and a strategic priority, not just in our foreign policy but also our domestic policy. And with Russia, we want to further deepen our cooperation."
 
Klimkin, who was born in the Russian city of Kursk and studied in Moscow, assumes the post amid his country's greatest crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea territory in March, and Kyiv has sent federal forces into eastern Ukraine to battle armed pro-Russian separatists.
 
Difference in style, not substance
 
Signals from Moscow indicate that the Kremlin feels it can work with Klimkin, whose immediate predecessor, Andriy Deshchytsya, sparked controversy earlier this month when he was caught on camera using an obscenity to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
"All we can do is wish him a productive start to his work in this new, important post," Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RIA Novosti, calling Klimkin one of Ukraine's "most experienced, well-known diplomats."
 
Klimkin, however, could hardly be considered a pro-Russian choice by Poroshenko, analysts say. His tenure is likely to differ from Deshchytsya's in style, but not substance, said Andreas Umland, a political scientist at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the Ukrainian capital.
 
"I think he will keep a somewhat lower profile in terms of making political statements," Umland told RFE/RL. "But in principle I don't think there's an ideological difference between them. They are both pro-Western and there's only a minor difference in style, I would say."
 
Klimkin graduated from Moscow's Institute of Physics and Technology in 1991 and began his diplomatic career two years later.
 
A native Russian speaker who is fluent in both English and German, he would go on to serve in Ukraine's Foreign Ministry in Kyiv, Germany, and Britain, and in 2008 he became Ukraine's lead negotiator on the Association Agreement with the EU.
 
Analysts say Klimkin's central role in negotiating the terms of the agreement was likely a key factor in his appointment.
 
"Klimkin is an experienced diplomat, with a substantial background in Ukraine-Europe relations," Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told RFE/RL. "So I see his appointment as confirmation that President Poroshenko attaches priority to developing Kyiv's relationship with the European Union."
 
Effective negotiator
 
Colleagues, acquaintances and analysts describe Klimkin as an affable, effective, and cautious diplomat with little taste for public political tussles.
 
"He was, as far as I know, in the diplomatic service always sort of a pointedly neutral figure," said Umland, who has met Klimkin. "For instance there was this movement among some Ukrainian diplomats during the last weeks of Yanukovych's rule to voice their protest against Yanukovych, and Klimkin has not done so."
 
Kostyantyn Bondarenko, a political analyst with the Institute for Ukrainian Policy, said Klimkin is a choice that Moscow finds palatable and that he is capable of being an effective negotiator with Russia, the EU, and the United States.
 
"He doesn't like conflict and is a universal diplomat who can solve many problems," Bondarenko told the "Kommersant" newspaper.
 
At the very least, Klimkin may be able to nurture a rapport based on personal interests with his cigar-loving Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
 
When a Nicaraguan diplomat in Berlin launched a cigar lounge in the German capital in September 2012, Klimkin was among a handful of ambassadors to make an appearance at the opening.

With reporting by AFP

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid