Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 75

President Leonid Kuchma appointed Boris Tarasiuk to the post of Foreign Minister on April 17, replacing Hennady Udovenko. Indications are that Tarasiuk’s efforts to a more Western political direction may be even stronger than the previous minister’s. Born in Zhitomir region in 1949, Tarasiuk studied international relations in Kyiv and served in various staff posts in the Ukrainian SSR’s Foreign Ministry and UN Mission until 1991. He neither graduated in Moscow nor served in the USSR Foreign Ministry. After Ukraine gained its independence, Tarasiuk served successively as head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s Political Analysis department, head of the Disarmament Committee, Deputy and First Deputy Foreign Minister, and ambassador to the Benelux countries and to NATO in Brussels–his latest position.

Tarasiuk is credited with decisive contributions to the Ukraine-NATO partnership charter in 1997, the Ukraine-European Union agreement in 1994, negotiations with the United States and Russia on Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament, and negotiations with Russia on the Black Sea Fleet. He advocates an unambiguous Western orientation for Ukraine, and has more than once stated on record that Ukraine’s interests demand joining NATO in a matter of several years. Welcoming his appointment, Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovyl predicted that Ukraine’s orientation toward the West will become more pronounced under Tarasiuk’s tenure. Introducing the appointee to the Foreign Ministry’s staff, Kuchma instructed the Ministry to work “more actively for strategic cooperation with the U.S.A.” and for “affirming Ukraine’s European choice,” Kuchma listed relations with Russia the third priority. Tarasiuk, for his part, announced that he would “continue the President’s course aimed at Ukraine’s integration into European and Euroatlantic structures”–the latter a customary euphemism for NATO. Regarding Ukrainian-Russian relations, Tarasiuk pointed out that “the internal situation as well as international stability and security hinge on these relations.”

Kuchma and Tarasiuk both stressed the elements of continuity from Udovenko to Tarasiuk’s stewardship. Kuchma awarded Udovenko the Order of Yaroslav the Wise. Udovenko has been elected to Parliament on Rukh’s list–though he is not a Rukh member–and aspires to the post of chairman of parliament. (UNIAN, DINAU, Ukrainian TV, April 17 and 18)