|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Briefing on plane en route Kiev, Ukraine
April 14, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are going to Ukraine. As several of you heard me say before, I’ve decided that there were four countries that I really wanted to put a lot of emphasis on, at the start of last year and this year, not because any of them really resemble each other, but because each of them in some way is at a very important point in its democratic development and it is very important regionally. Ukraine is one of those countries. And it has gone through some ups and downs but I believe that at this stage after this election of President Kuchma that there is momentum for reform. They are examining themselves very closely in terms of how they relate to the IMF and how they restructure various parts of their economy. They are going to have this referendum which has been controversial but their constitutional court decided that it was constitutional. The Rada has to vote after the referendum and it has to be carried out in a constitutional way. We are glad that they are going to close Chernobyl and there are other issues that I am going to discuss with them in terms of their relationship with NATO, what they are doing in Kosovo, and generally how they’re doing. And they’re on the Security Council so there are issues involved with that.
QUESTION: Do you think that if this referendum passes it will help President Kuchma in the sense that the Rada will become easier to work with?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that it will if it is carried out constitutionally and it is put into place in a way that everybody feels comfortable with. It has been controversial as I said but I think that it should if it provides for him a vehicle that allows him to follow through on this active reform program.
QUESTION: What do you make of the Council of Europe has threatened to suspend Ukraine if this referendum goes ahead, if it is even voted on. Does that really matter?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that from their own perspective -- as I said it was controversial -- I think the fact that their constitutional court then decided that if the results of it were carried out in a constitutional way, I think that the Council of Europe has to see what the effect of it is.
QUESTION: Will you be bringing up issues of human rights and democracy in Ukraine as well as the declaration?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I think that we’re concerned about some of the press (inaudible) activities and the importance generally of just following through on human rights issues.
QUESTION: Anything about the expected vote on Start II in the Duma?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I had been talking to Ivanov about it last week, and I think that they know that they’ve got to argue it strongly and they have been and (inaudible) they were fairly sanguine so we’ll have to see. It’s important. It will be an important sign if it gets through.
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