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07KYIV924, UKRAINE: NEW FOREIGN MINISTER YATSENYUK — A

April 18, 2007

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07KYIV924 2007-04-18 05:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8860
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #0924/01 1080545
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 180545Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2027
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 000924 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/UMB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV ETRD PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: NEW FOREIGN MINISTER YATSENYUK -- A 
CHANGE OF STYLE AND GENERATION 
 
REF: STATE 40932 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's newest and 
youngest foreign minister, is extremely bright and, although 
he has no previous experience at MFA, will pick up the full 
scope of his new responsibilities quickly.  He puts an 
emphasis on the economic side of his new duties, since he has 
past experience as Minister of the Economy (September 
2005-August 2006) and National Bank Deputy Governor (January 
2003-February 2005, Acting Governor from mid-2004 to February 
2005).  He also acknowledges the importance of European and 
Euro-Atlantic integration for Ukraine.  Yatsenyuk puts an 
emphasis on winning the support of the Ukrainian public for 
these strategic goals through a good public relations 
campaign and focusing on practical and achievable near-term 
accomplishments that brings Ukraine closer to EU and NATO 
membership.  He has given no indication whether and when he 
plans to change the MFA top leadership. 
 
2. (C) Comment:  Yatsenyuk has made the right initial 
comments on the EU and NATO, but we will have to engage him 
to ensure he focuses on traditional foreign policy areas that 
are also of importance to us -- inter alia, Ukraine's 
regional leadership on Transnistria, its bilateral relations 
with Belarus, and membership in GUAM.  Although he is 
familiar with a range of USG officials from his time as 
Minister of the Economy and Acting National Bank Governor, 
his upcoming visit to Washington will be an opportunity to 
expand the range of his personal contacts and to underscore 
the full scope of areas where we look for Ukrainian support 
and engagement.  End summary/comment. 
 
A Fresh Face at MFA 
------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) New Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, appointed 
and confirmed March 21, described some of his plans to us 
during a March 29 meeting with Ambassador, a March 30 
briefing to the diplomatic corps (G8, EU, NATO, and CIS 
countries), and an April 2 meeting with CODEL Price.  (At the 
diplomatic corps briefing, Ambassador also transmitted the 
Secretary's congratulatory message contained reftel.) 
 
SIPDIS 
Thirty-two years young, sporting a crew cut, slim, on the 
tall side, and fluent in English, Yatsenyuk looked as if he 
could have just strolled off of a collegiate basketball court 
and donned a business suit.  His self-confidence came through 
in his relaxed manner and easy laughter.  In greeting CODEL 
Price, Yatsenyuk welcomed the members to a democracy "with a 
certain political tension," and, when Representative Price 
offered his congratulations for his easy confirmation, 
Yatsenyuk wryly joked that perhaps Price should offer 
condolences instead. 
 
Straddling Two Camps...but the President's man 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
4. (SBU) Yatsenyuk told CODEL Price his surprisingly easy 
confirmation (426 MPs from a total of 450, with 432 actually 
present, voted in favor) had occurred because his nomination 
had been a satisfactory solution for all the parties 
concerned -- the President, Prime Minister, and parliamentary 
coalition -- after repeated showdowns over the previous 
nominee.  At the time of his nomination, he served as a 
Presidential Secretariat Deputy Chief of Staff, but he had 
also worked with Prime Minister Yanukovych in 2004 as acting 
National Bank governor.  President Yushchenko was comfortable 
with his approach to European and Euro-Atlantic integration, 
including acceleration of Ukraine's movement toward NATO, 
but, at the same time, he had no binding obligations either 
to the parliamentary coalition or to the opposition.  His 
only obligation, Yatsenyuk intoned, was to the Ukrainian 
nation. 
 
5. (SBU) Yatsenyuk said that, under the Vienna Convention, 
the heads of state and government and the foreign minister 
represent the nation.  According to the Ukrainian 
constitution, the president steers the direction of foreign 
policy, the prime minister executes it, and the foreign 
minister had to be a diplomat.  He was a diplomat not just to 
a foreign audience but also within the government.  He was 
under the president, but had to do his best to cooperate with 
the government.  At times, he had to convince Yanukovych to 
change his position; rarely, he had the same task with 
Yushchenko, but Yushchenko was "always oriented in the right 
direction." 
 
6. (C) Note: Diplomatic modesties aside, in the 
 
KYIV 00000924  002 OF 003 
 
 
constitutional crisis which emerged after President 
Yushchenko signed an April 2 decree dismissing the Rada and 
calling new elections, Yatsenyuk squarely sided with 
Yushchenko.  In the emergency Cabinet meeting convened by 
Yanukovych after Yushchenko announced the decree, only 
Yatsenyuk and Defense Minister Hrytsenko, the other 
Yushchenko nominee, defended the decree's legality and voted 
against the Cabinet resolutions attempting to prevent its 
implementatio
n.  Yatsenyuk voted for the Yushchenko position 
in the National Security and Defense Council meeting April 4, 
talked of the MFA's responsibility for ensuring Embassies 
prepared overseas polling stations, supported Yushchenko's 
initial position that international mediation was not 
necessary, and stood in for Yushchenko in an April 11 visit 
to Strasbourg to engage European institutional 
representatives on why the dismissal decree and new elections 
were necessary. 
 
Policy Priorities 
----------------- 
 
7. (U) Not surprisingly for a former Economy Minister and 
deputy National Bank director, Yatsenyuk defined economic 
goals, such as obtaining a free trade agreement with the EU, 
as one of his top two priorities during his briefing to the 
diplomatic corps.  His second priority would be protecting 
the rights of every Ukrainian abroad, including facilitating 
their ability to travel.  During his meeting with CODEL 
Price, Yatsenyuk vented over a 126-page USTR response on 
Ukraine's preparations to enter the WTO.  Ambassador pointed 
out the length of the response represented the USG's 
seriousness in bringing the accession to completion. 
Yatsenyuk understood that USTR was trying to provide accurate 
and detailed input, but he questioned whether the time 
required to respond to every issue that USTR had raised might 
not become an obstacle in and of itself to Ukraine's WTO 
accession process.  (Comment:  Ukraine's negotiators do not 
seem to share his view.)  He definitely planned to meet with 
USTR Schwab during his Washington visit to discuss this. 
 
NATO and EU 
----------- 
 
8.  (C) Yatsenyuk is not only Ukraine's youngest foreign 
minister ever, but, since he graduated from Chernivtsi State 
University in 1996, he is one of the emerging generation of 
Ukrainian leaders who have spent their entire working career 
in independent Ukraine.  Thus, he has developed his 
professional approach and skills in a country with open 
borders, access to western media, and a market economy.  The 
different orientation that he has from his older predecessor, 
Borys Tarasyuk, is evident with regard to Ukraine's European 
and Euro-Atlantic integration.  Yatsenyuk is less ideological 
and more pragmatic in his approach, stressing that Ukraine 
should work on the practical implementation of the steps that 
would bring it closer to the EU and NATO, without too much 
emphasis on terminology.  (Note:  Despite Yatsenyuk's 
remarks, EU EC Charge Dirk Schuebel said the Ukrainian side 
was still pushing for adoption of the term "association" 
during EU-Ukraine negotiations on the "New Enhanced 
Agreement.") 
 
9. (C) In his meetings, Yatsenyuk also stressed the 
importance of a PR and media campaign with respect to 
possible EU and NATO membership, noting, for example, that 
too few Ukrainians understood that the NATO-Ukraine action 
plan dealt more with such areas as democratic and social 
reform and not military reform.  In his March 29 meeting with 
Ambassador (before the current political crisis began), 
Yatsenyuk said the planned July 9 NATO North Atlantic Council 
(NAC) ambassadors' visit to Kyiv to mark the 10th anniversary 
of the NATO-Ukraine relationship would be a real opportunity 
to present a positive NATO image.  (Comment: Yatsenyuk has a 
history of using public diplomacy well.  While acting 
governor of the National Bank, Yatsenyuk dealt with a 
threatened run on the banks by successfully combining 
temporary restrictions with a public information campaign.) 
He also mentioned that Ukraine needed to find an EU "old 
Europe" member to act as a champion within the EU for 
Ukraine's membership, as Poland was among the "new Europe" 
members. 
 
Russia Relations 
---------------- 
 
10. (C) The fact that Yatsenyuk elected to visit Brussels 
first, rather than Moscow as is traditional for Ukrainian 
leaders, was clear evidence of his orientation.  A Foreign 
Ministry working level contact noted that Yatsenyuk had said 
 
KYIV 00000924  003 OF 003 
 
 
his first overseas trips would be to Brussels, Washington, 
and Moscow.  Yatsenyuk had planned to visit Moscow in 
conjunction with President Yushchenko's April visit, but the 
trip was postponed when Yushchenko had to cancel because of 
the political crisis.  In responding to a CODEL Price 
question on Ukraine's future relations with Russia and the 
EU, Yatsenyuk addressed Russia in two sentences, describing 
it as an important neighbor that could not be ignored, and 
then devoted most of his answer to EU relations.  Yatsenyuk, 
drawing on his Economic Ministry experience, did address 
Ukraine's involvement in the Single Economic Space (SES), 
noting that Ukraine had urged the adoption of two agreements 
within the SES context on energy transit facilities and 
buying and selling of oil and gas.  SES discussions had been 
in abeyance, but Yatsenyuk was ready to push the two 
proposals should discussions resume.  The key to dealing with 
Russia, and every other country, Yatsenyuk noted, was a 
stable domestic situation in Ukraine. 
 
MFA Personnel Shuffles -- None Yet 
---------------------------------- 
 
11. (U) The same Foreign Ministry contact said no decisions 
had been made regarding a change in MFA's senior leadership. 
Yatsenyuk was interviewing MFA senior officials and would 
make a decision fairly soon on whether to retain them or 
bring in new faces.  (Note:  One first deputy foreign 
minister position is currently vacant after the previous 
incumbent, Anton Buteyko, suffered a stroke in 2006.) 
 
Personal Details 
---------------- 
 
12. (U) A March 29, 2007, article in Kyiv daily, Segodnya, 
reported that Yatsenyuk's father, Petro Yatsenyuk, is an 
assistant professor of history at Chernivtsi University, and 
his mother, Mariya, teaches French at the same university. 
He has one sister, Alina, who is seven years older, married 
to an American, and lives in Santa Barbara, California. 
Yatsenyuk's wife, Tereza, whom he met when both worked at 
Aval bank, is four years his senior.  They have two 
daughters, seven-year-old Khrystyna and two-year-old Sofiya. 
Yatsenyuk's mother comes from Kolumiya, Ivano-Frankivsk 
oblast, a center of the Carpathian Hutsul ethnic subgroup; 
Yatsenyuk collects Hutsul handicrafts. 
 
13. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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