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(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
After spending years being marginalized, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry recently received assurances from the president that it will coordinate all of the state's foreign policy, an influential weekly has said. The weekly also interviewed Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, who said the move will keep various ministries from presenting divergent points of view on policy and assist relations with other countries. Tarasyuk added that in practice this means that diplomats will be attached to each ministry to see that policy is coordinated. Whilst discussing ties with Russia he stressed the importance of defending Ukraine's interests and said he has good ties with his Russian counterpart. The following is an excerpt of the article by Tetyana Silyna, including an interview with Tarasyuk, entitled "Attempt number?", published in the Ukrainian analytical weekly Zerkalo Nedeli on 20 August; subheadings have been inserted editorially:
There was a small party in the building on Mykhaylivska Square [the Foreign Ministry] last Monday [15 August]: as reported by his press secretary, after meeting Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, President Yushchenko made a decision to sign a decree soon on strengthening the coordinating role of the Foreign Ministry in carrying out Ukraine's foreign policy, which, in particular, will make this ministry coordinator of the activities of all bodies of the executive branch in the sphere of foreign policy.
The Foreign Ministry has lived to see many decrees about its role since Ukraine gained independence; they either strengthened it, or pushed it down to the level of relaying information from the presidential administration. With the victory of the Orange Revolution, diplomats sort of spread their wings, and the Foreign Ministry, from the mouth of its official press secretary then, Markyan Lubkivskyy (now a deputy state secretary of Ukraine) immediately expressed hope that the role of the ministry in coordinating foreign policy would grow from now on. Soon President [Viktor] Yushchenko, while presenting Borys Tarasyuk as the new head of the ministry on 8 February, unquestionably stated, "the only channel for forming diplomatic relations will be the Foreign Ministry" and that from now on neither the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] nor the presidential administration would be engaged in this work.
Those in the Foreign Ministry, wings open and wasting no time, sent the presidential secretariat their proposals on optimizing the mechanism for implementing foreign policy, but,\[ellipsis as published] there was no reaction to these proposals. Then they prepared new proposals on Mykhaylivska Square [the address of the foreign Ministry] and formulating them in like a project for a presidential decree, again went to Bankova Street [location of the presidential secretariat]. But again there was …