The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1996Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Joint Press Conference with President Kuchma – 18 April 1996

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint press conference with President Kuchma, held in Kiev on Thursday 18th April 1996.


It is a pleasure to welcome our honourable guest, the Prime Minister of Great Britain to the capital of Ukraine, the city of Kiev. This is a continuation of the political dialogue which began between our two countries. We discussed the issues of bilateral relations with our two countries and I expressed my gratitude to the Prime Minister for the support to Ukraine for its independence, for the support of Ukraine’s integration into the European Union. Priority number one for us is the economic relations, [indistinct] with such a country as the United Kingdom which is recognised worldwide as the leader in developing economic relations. The issue of European security has also been in the focus of attention of our talks. We discussed the issue of the impending G7 summit in Moscow, and many others.

I am happy that we share opinions on most of these issues and we are progressing. For Ukraine has no way back. That is why I would like to extend my gratitude to the honourable Prime Minister for his visit and I am pleased to give the floor to him.


Mr President, thank you very much indeed. Perhaps I can firstly say that I am delighted to be here in Ukraine, to have the opportunity of these discussions with you this morning and with the Prime Minister later this afternoon. I am also delighted that we have already been able to sign mutual confiscation agreements to deal with drugs and other serious crimes. That is a matter we discussed when last we met, I am delighted the agreements have been reached because I regard them as a key part of the international fight against crime.

But I am delighted to be here too for another reason. And that is because we are now able to visit an independent Ukraine, independent for five years, that has now set its feet firmly towards a new and different future. We believe that Ukraine’s success is important to Europe’s stability and we are firm supporters of the independent and democratic Ukraine that has been created.

Over the last few years, Ukraine has been undergoing some very remarkable political and economic reform. None of these reforms is easy, a great deal of progress has been made both economically and politically. We understand very clearly the difficulty of these economic reforms, but we are utterly confident that as they are carried forward they will lead to a far better economic future for Ukraine.

We wish to assist to the extent that we can. We shall certainly be providing extra resources for the Know How Fund, particularly to help in the key energy sector in the Ukraine.

We have been discussing over luncheon a new British Embassy in Kiev which will be a visible illustration of the improved relationship between our two countries.

Later on today I will visit a new British Council office, and very shortly important business trade missions will come here, one in particular led by the Lord Mayor of London.

The President and I have looked this morning at the opportunities for increasing trade and investment between our two countries. We both believe that there is ample scope to do so, both for bilateral trade and also for bilateral investment, one country in another.

We have also had the opportunity of previewing some of the matters that we will discuss at the G7 plus 2 Summit later on this week. I have found it a most useful and worthwhile occasion and I am most grateful to the President for his hospitality.



Prime Minister, what can the West do to prevent another Chernobyl and what, if anything, will come out of the G7 that will be helpful to that process?


That is clearly going to be one of the matters that is going to be discussed at the G7, important to the President, important to me, important to the rest of the G7. It is now the 10th anniversary I think since the terrible tragedy at Chernobyl. We are fully committed to the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding that has been signed between Ukraine and between the G7. There are funds ready there to be used, there are expert groups looking at what needs to be done, there is a European Union review of the particular difficulties relating to the sarcophagus. So there is a lot to be discussed and I would anticipate that that would be an important issue in our discussions later this week.


In what context was the issue of Chernobyl discussed, will there be a joint programme of action in Moscow?


In fact the [indistinct] has been worked out already, starting with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 1995. Now it will be the decision of Ukraine to close down Chernobyl. There is a wish and the decision of G7 to participate in implementing this decision, there is such a wish and I am confident that there will be practical efforts and practical steps in its implementation.