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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora