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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid