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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid