Petras Vaida, BC, Vilnius,
The energy sector and transport are of key priority for further cooperation between Lithuania and Ukraine, the presidents of the two countries say. On Thursday, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, who pays an official visit to Lithuania, and President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite signed the Roadmap for Development of the Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and the Republic of Lithuania for 2011-2012.
According to the Lithuanian President, two very important topics - the energy sector and transport - were singled out for further development in the bilateral relations.
"It was a very important meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych, a continuation of our nice tradition of bilateral cooperation. Also, the Council of the Presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine met for its fourth session today. I and the Ukrainian President signed the Roadmap for Development of the Strategic Partnership between Lithuania and Ukraine for 2011-2012," President Grybauskaite said during a news conference.
Discussing bilateral cooperation in economic matters and transport, the President drew the Ukrainian President's attention that the shuttle-train Viking running between Klaipeda and Odessa seaports opened up good opportunities to expand freight transportation between the Baltic and Black Sea regions. However, according to the President, due to complicated customs procedures and existence of only one destination station in Ukraine, the train does not function to its full capacity in Ukraine, reported BC presidential press-service.
"Efficient functioning of the Viking train would allow attracting more freight from Caucasus, Turkey and Nordic countries, which are already showing interest in such possibilities. We discussed with the Ukrainian President the problems that have emerged, and agreed to make joint efforts to solve them so that the Viking project could produce the maximum benefit," President Grybauskaite said.
President Grybauskaite invited Ukraine's power suppliers to come to Lithuania's power market. Lithuania's and Ukraine's Presidents intend to start talks with Belarus about the possibility to import electricity and other energy resources from Ukraine to Lithuania through Belarus.
The Presidents also discussed Ukraine's euroingeration process. The President of Lithuania underlined that the European Union was interested in successful implementation of political reforms in Ukraine and that it urged to follow the principles of transparency and democracy. The Presidents agreed to continue cooperation on this issue, particularly by sharing Lithuania's experience of negotiations with the EU.
"I wish Ukraine - as it negotiates with the European Union - to go the same way of structural reforms as Lithuania did. To achieve a deeper European integration, Ukraine must prepare successfully for the conclusion of a free trade agreement and later the association agreement with the EU. Lithuania is ready to help Ukraine to get closer to the European Union by sharing its experience, resources and support," President Grybauskaite said.
According to the Lithuanian President, Lithuania appreciates Ukraine's role in ensuring security in the region and its participation in the international mission in Afghanistan, especially in the Ghor Province where it assists Lithuania in its province reconstruction efforts. According to the President, this is an example of the real bilateral strategic partnership.
Speaking about the Lithuanian-Ukrainian trade cooperation, Yanukovich noted that the turnover of both countries, which totalled 450 million U.S. dollars per year, was too low, despite its 62-percent growth. According to the Ukrainian leader, the countries should seek that their turnover would reach at least a billion U.S. dollars a year. In Yanukovich's opinion, this is a very realistic goal.
The Ukrainian President applauded Lithuania's experience in many areas, saying that it was very useful for Ukraine. According to Yanukovych, Ukraine must carry out domestic reforms and achieve the necessary unity on commitments to the European Union to complete the country's euro-integration tasks.
"Today Ukraine is more than ever determined to integrate into the EU as far as Europe is ready for that. We have agreed with the President that the Republic of Lithuania will not only support Ukraine, but also provide practical assistance to our institutions, the officials who are engaged in these matters, in drawing up high quality effective instruments and mechanisms which will be handy for integration issues," the President of Ukraine said.