September 4, 2019 | International Cooperation | The United States of America (USA)
The meeting with US Ambassador William Taylor, Temporary Attorney for Ukraine
On September 4, 2019, the Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy Of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine hosted a meeting with US Ambassador William Taylor, Temporary Attorney for Ukraine.
The title of the Ambassador’s speech was “Why Ukraine Matters?” According to Ambassador Taylor, “the main aspects that make Ukraine important are: people, its location, its potential.” Ambassador Taylor noted that he was happy to return to Ukraine: “This is exciting time. The whole country is closely watching to the new government, the Youngest President. The youngest Prime Minister. The Youngest Verhovna Rada.
The meeting was moderated by Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky, Director of the Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy Of Ukraine.
Here is the full text of William Taylor’s Provisional Attorney for Ukraine in English:
Remarks by Charge d’Affaires a.i. William Taylor
At the Diplomatic Academy
September 4, 2019
Thank you very much, Ambassador. It’s a very kind introduction. And I’m always pleased to follow some comment by Bill Burns, who’s one of my heroes.
So, 20 minutes, and I thought I was speaking straight, I thought I was not going to have to rely on Alex [interpreter]. So I’m going to have to go quickly here.
So, I am going to deviate a little bit, Ambassador, from the announced topic of this discussion, and talk to you about why I think Ukraine matters.
Everybody in this room knows, and probably most people watching online, knows the basics of the importance of Ukraine – an important European country. It’s the people. It’s the place. It’s the potential. So it’s 40 million people, it’s the heart of Europe, and it has the resources – both the people resources and the natural resources – that make it a great country.
So this we all know. And this is what I knew when I came here the first time in 2006. Actually, I’ve been here a couple times before, as the Ambassador pointed out, but in 2006 I was honored to be able to come to Ukraine as the Ambassador. That was an exciting time – it was, everybody remembers, it was the aftermath of the Orange Revolution. We have an orange tie here. [audience laughter]
The three years I was here, and many people in this room will remember our Embassy — the old Embassy, closer to the Diplomatic Academy — but in that office, I had a map published by Freedom House. And Freedom House classifies countries around the world, all over the world, as being not free, partially free, and free. And the three years I was here, Ukraine was free. And Ukraine was the only post-Soviet country, except the Baltics, that was free.
The other big event that happened while I was here – in 2008, the United States President visited Kyiv. That was the last time a U.S. President visited Kyiv. So, we have to fix that. And President Bush at that time, people here will remember, was en route to a NATO summit in Bucharest when the question of a Membership Action Plan for Ukraine was discussed. And we remember that the Membership Action Plan was not approved at that summit, but there was a promise given. The promise was Ukraine would someday be a member of NATO.
So I’m back. I’m very pleased to be back. It’s a very exciting time. The whole world is captivated, is focused, on your new government. Youngest president. Youngest prime minister. Youngest cabinet. Youngest Rada. 80 percent of the Rada, brand-new, never having been in the Rada before. That’s not like [what] happens in the United States, I’ll tell you.
So the question is, is this a new Ukraine? Is something really different?
Is there a new commitment to European values?
Is there a new commitment to defeating corruption and oligarchs and cynicism?
And is there a new commitment and maybe even new thoughts about how to end the war in the East?
This war is the other reason that the United States thinks Ukraine is important.
In 2014, as everybody in this room knows, everybody watching, Russia abandoned the post-World War II order that had kept the peace and enabled prosperity in Europe.
Bob Kagan has described that 69-year period as the liberal international order as a garden in a jungle. And everybody knows that a garden in the middle of a jungle is not natural. It doesn’t happen naturally. Historians know that the jungle is the natural state of affairs among nations. That is wars and famines and chaos. Power politics, spheres of influence, great powers dominating small powers.
Think about the period after World War I. The rise of Bolsheviks, of Nazis, of fascists. The Holodomor. Purges. That’s the jungle. That’s the natural state. That’s what happens when there are no rules.
So now think about the time after World War II, between World War II, 1945, and 2014.
That period, think about it — no major European wars. Dramatic economic growth. That was the result of hard work by a lot of people and a lot of nations and a lot of [inaudible]. Alliances were built. Institutions were put in place. Trust was established. NATO. World Bank. UN. European Union. IMF. WTO.
There was also a commitment during that time to principles. The Helsinki principles. People will remember these principles. These were principles of the importance of sovereignty, sovereignty of states, the sanctity of borders, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
The United States — we were willing and we were proud to help build that order, that liberal international order.
It was not inexpensive. It took a lot of money, it took a lot of energy, it took a lot of focus, a lot of will. But we were pleased to contribute to it.
We were willing to protect the trade routes around the world with our Navy. We were proud to lead the NATO alliance, with the bulk of the military capability.
We submitted ourselves to supra-national institutions that make decisions that affected us, like the UN, like the WTO – the World Trade Organization. Sometimes we didn’t win those arguments. But even though we lost some of those arguments, and some judgments went against what we had argued, we played by the rules. That built trust. Germany and Japan, after World War II, joined this order. China eventually joined this order, and as I would say, has benefited greatly from it. Even the Soviet Union dissolved without a fight, in some sense, because of the trust in the international order.
So that time, between World War II and 2014, that was a garden. That was the garden in the jungle. We’ve all grown up in that garden. That garden is not natural. It’s not the natural state of affairs.
As we know, that period ended in 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine. The first armed attempt to change borders in Europe since World War II.
Though Ukraine, Europe, and Canada, other countries, the United States, we’re fighting back against that, against that aggression.
Ukraine is fighting back with soldiers, weapons, sanctions, and all of its society. Europe is, and the Canadians are, fighting back with sanctions and military training. The United States is fighting back with lethal weapons, with training and sanctions.
Because we have to stop the killing; we have to reestablish Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. And if we want to go back to that garden, we have to reestablish an order, a rules-based order that respects the sovereignty of all nations.
So, pulling the weeds of Russian aggression. Pulling the — chopping back the attempts of the Russians to establish a sphere of influence – that takes work. It takes hard work.
If we don’t tend that garden, if we pull back from this fight, from this attempt — Bob Kagan titled his book in a brilliant way. The title of his book was: “The Jungle Grows Back.”
And it’s not just for Ukraine that we have to tend this garden. It affects the whole world. What the Russians try out in Ukraine, they often take it to Europe and they take it to Europe, and they take it to the United States.
Another American author, a brilliant Yale historian, argues that if we don’t stop the Kremlin now, then we are on the road to “un-freedom” [inaudible]. That road, to “un-freedom,” runs through Ukraine, Central Europe, Western Europe, and then across the Atlantic.
And everybody knows the tactics. It’s disinformation, it’s fake news, it’s hybrid warfare, it’s cyber attacks, it’s interfering in elections.
Timothy Snyder observes that there are many people in the West who think that Mr. Putin is on the wrong side of history.
Too many people think that the arc of history bends toward freedom and liberal democracy and open markets. People want to think that victory over Putinism is inevitable.
We remember Francis Fukuyama, another American historian, who predicted the end of history at the end of the Cold War. And that’s wrong. It’s not inevitable that we [inaudible].
The garden that I talked about must be tended. It’s strenuously important and hard work.
We need to reestablish the rules-based international system. And I come back to the point that I’ll end with and that is: Ukraine’s at the center and on the forefront of that fight. So Ukraine matters to us. And Ukraine must succeed. Thank you.