Interview with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the UAE, Evgeni MikitenkoPresentation of credentials to the President of the UAE
Mr. Ambassador, this is our first interview with you, so readers of the magazine, including many Ukrainian citizens, would be interested to learn how your diplomatic career developed before you arrived in the UAE.
First of all, I want to thank the Russian Emirates magazine for the interest shown in the activities of the Ukrainian Embassy in the UAE. It is pleasant to realize that the most popular publication among Russian-speaking readers about the Emirates does not forget about the citizens of Ukraine.
I was born in Kiev, my school years passed there. I am proud that I am a graduate of one of the best universities in the world - Moscow State University. For a long time I lived and worked in Moscow, as well as in the Soviet embassies in Lebanon and Iraq. Together with my wife, we were direct witnesses of the civil war in Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait ...
In 1991, I returned to Kiev, where I worked at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. In 1996-2000 he was the first ambassador of Ukraine to Saudi Arabia and Jordan concurrently, then a year and a half - the first ambassador of Ukraine to Syria. Since April 2004 I have been working in Abu Dhabi, at the same time I am the Ambassador of Ukraine to the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
My wife Galina Vasilievna is with me in Abu Dhabi. Without exaggeration, I can say that her many years of support is an important and integral part of my whole life. Our children, daughter and son, who sometimes come to stay, like us, are very fond of the Emirates.
We know that on March 26, 2006, parliamentary elections await Ukraine. Please tell us how the voting procedure will be organized for citizens of Ukraine living in the Emirates?
Voting will take place on March 26 this year at the premises of the Ukrainian Embassy at the address: Abu Dhabi, Madina Zayed District, Street 13, Building 4. Time - from 7.00 to 22.00 without a break. For all questions related to voting, you can contact the consular section of the Embassy by phone (02) 6327586 (additional 116, 118 or 101) from 10.00 to 14.00 (except Thursday and Friday).
Taking this opportunity, I ask all citizens of Ukraine who are in the UAE and wish to vote, make sure that they are included in the voters lists in advance.
In your opinion, how will relations between Ukraine and the UAE develop? What are the most promising areas of bilateral cooperation?
The last few years have demonstrated stable positive dynamics in the development of relations between Ukraine and the UAE. In 2004, trade between our countries amounted to a record 432 million USD, while Ukrainian exports - more than 90%. According to the results of 2005, we have a slightly lower number, but this is primarily due to the peculiarities of settlements for some large contracts. But still in the structure of trade, Ukrainian exports to the Emirates far exceed imports. The Embassy of Ukraine is making efforts to further develop trade between the two countries and promote Ukrainian products to the local market, and is actively working to diversify Ukrainian exports.
In the political sphere, Ukraine and the UAE have no disagreements. A constructive dialogue is being held on all issues of international life and bilateral cooperation.
In such a situation, there are all the necessary prerequisites for further strengthening relations. At the same time, the main emphasis in cooperation between Ukraine and the UAE is on "economizing" relations, expanding trade and joint implementation of specific projects. It is difficult to single out one or two directions - many industries have significant potential and interest for the parties. For example, the problem of finding alternative energy suppliers, among which the UAE is one of the leading places in the world, has recently gained particular importance for Ukraine. Significant investment and purchasing opportunities of the Emirates also attract the attention of Ukrainian businessmen. For its part, Ukraine is ready to offer products of the aviation and engineering industries, agriculture, equipment for the needs of oil companies, services for putting the emirate satellites into low Earth orbit, etc. Let's not forget that in recent years thousands of Ukrainian citizens have visited Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and enjoyed the delights of a wonderful holiday in these parts. On the other hand, the number of citizens of the Emirates is steadily growing, who as tourists were able to appreciate the hospitality and hospitality of Ukrainians.
I want to emphasize that the practical implementation of the existing potential, i.e. conclusion and implementation of specific contracts depends only on the desire of businessmen on both sides. The embassy, for its part, is ready to contribute to this in every way.
Many CIS countries hold Culture Days of their states in the UAE and invite emirates to their places with similar programs. Does the immediate plans of the Ukrainian embassy include such cultural events?
In the immediate plans of the embassy, the Days of Ukrainian Culture in the UAE or the Days of UAE Culture in our country are not yet provided. As you know, such events are organized in the framework of interstate or intergovernmental agreements on cultural cooperation. To date, the draft Agreement on cooperation in the field of culture between Ukraine and the UAE is under consideration by the parties. After signing this document, we will definitely start organizing Culture Days. The Emirate side expresses understanding and support in this matter.
We know that most of the immigrants from the CIS countries live in Dubai or the northern emirates, the smaller - in Abu Dhabi. At one time, it was this factor that caused the opening of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Dubai in order to better interact with its citizens. Is Ukraine planning to open a consulate or consular office in Dubai?
From the first days of my stay in the Emirates as Ambassador of Ukraine, I realized how important it is to achieve the opening of a consular office in Dubai. Unfortunately, this process is quite complex and lengthy, requiring a large number of approvals. At the same time, one of the state priorities of Ukraine has been proclaimed activities to protect the rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens abroad. I hope our efforts to open a consulate in Dubai will succeed next year.
What problems and questions do Ukrainian citizens most often turn to at the embassy?
Most often, and this is completely natural, people turn to the embassy for consular issues. Citizens of Ukraine have the opportunity to draw up the necessary certificates and register acts of civil status. In the event of the illness or death of our citizen, the embassy facilitates its repatriation. It is no secret to anyone that citizens from the former Soviet republics, including Ukrainians, are serving sentences in UAE prisons. We maintain constant contact with them, provide possible assistance in considering cases, and try to make their stay in custody as easy as possible. In addition, at the moment, as I have already said, a group has been set up in the diplomatic mission to prepare for the Ukrainian parliamentary elections.
Representatives of the Ukrainian business, who are trying to find new partners and investors in the Emirates, are constantly turning to the embassy, as well as the trade and economic mission operating within it. They are provided with the necessary information about the domestic market of the country, its needs and characteristics, assistance is provided in organizing the necessary business meetings.
This is only a small part of what we do for our compatriots. Active work is also underway to develop Ukrainian-Emirate cooperation in the field of culture, tourism, information, etc. We are always happy to provide the necessary assistance and answer any question that citizens of Ukraine contact the embassy.
A question from the field of cultural ties. This is not the first time that a ballet troupe from Russia has performed on the stage of the Madinat Theater in Dubai and, it must be said, with great success. Ukraine is known for its huge number of theater groups, dance groups and other creative associations. Can we ever get to know their work here in the Emirates?
Connoisseurs of theater and dance have repeatedly had the opportunity to appreciate the performances of Ukrainian groups in the Emirates. For example, at the beginning of April 2005, a tour of the Kiev Ballroom Dance Theater was successfully held in Abu Dhabi. Last December, at the second International Monodrama Festival, held in Fujairah, an international team led by a Ukrainian director A.Kritenko was awarded an honorary diploma and a commemorative badge for his significant contribution to the development of this theater genre.
The embassy is actively collaborating with the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, the National Theater and other educational institutions. At the moment, we are considering the possibility of participation of Ukrainian artists and dancers in some planned events. I hope there will be an opportunity to get acquainted with their work this year.
Why is there no Ukrainian pavilion at such a popular exhibition as Global Village, which has attracted tourists from all over the world to Dubai for many years?
Such a pavilion existed several years ago. At that time, the experience was not very successful - due to the unwillingness of the participants to fill the stands with high quality, the Ukrainian pavilion could not attract the proper attention of visitors. I believe that in such a situation, the decision to temporarily refrain from further participation in the Global Village project was absolutely correct. The Ukrainian pavilion should be exactly Ukrainian: it should feature national products, a wide selection of traditional works of art, other objects that will be associated with our country. Many forget that the “World Village” was then created to represent the cultures of different countries. It was last year, the same thing is repeated now. I had the opportunity to see the expositions of many countries, including Russia ... Participation in such events requires careful preparation, involvement of specialists, sponsors. Yes, Ukraine has something to show in the Emirates, there is something to surprise and delight visitors, but a poorly organized exposition is even worse than non-participation. I assure you that a high-quality Ukrainian pavilion will certainly be created, and then we will be able to proudly take part in the Global Village project.
In your opinion, is it necessary to create some kind of unions or community of entrepreneurs and businessmen from Ukraine living today in the UAE in order to support all kinds of cultural, humanitarian and other projects? Does the embassy need such support from compatriots?
Of course, the embassy needs the support of Ukrainian compatriots! After all, we work specifically for people, so that not only the Ukrainian state as a whole, but also specific citizens can feel the result. We try to be in constant contact with Ukrainian entrepreneurs and businessmen in the UAE, we provide them with possible assistance. This gives us the opportunity to know about the existing problems of Ukrainian companies in the markets of the Emirates, allows us to identify priority areas of activity in the economic sector. It was thanks to the real interest of Ukrainian business representatives in joining efforts that in 2005 created the Ukrainian Trade Center in Dubai.
In all countries of the world, the foreign diaspora is an important factor in the influence and promotion of national interests. To date, the Ukrainian diaspora in the UAE is undergoing its formation. I am sure that with the support of organized associations of Ukrainians in the Emirates, we will be able to significantly increase the effectiveness of our activities in all areas of Ukrainian-Emirate cooperation.
What would you like to wish the readers of our magazine?
First of all, I want to wish all readers and the editors of the Russian Emirates magazine health, family well-being, and successful achievement of their goals. Let the warmth of the sultry eastern sun and the pleasant coolness of the waters of the Gulf be preserved for the whole life in the heart of everyone who has ever visited the Emirates. For those who are still planning to visit here, I wish to make this decision as soon as possible, and the good and useful advice from the “Russian Emirates” will always help to make your stay here unforgettable.