Canada and Poland Strengthen Coordinated Engagement in Ukraine

April 24, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced that Canada and Poland will partner on various initiatives to help Ukraine stabilize its economy, consolidate its democracy and support civic engagement. Baird made the announcement in Warsaw, Poland, alongside Radosław Sikorski, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, following their meeting to discuss a coordinated approach to the crisis in Ukraine.

“In the face of Russia’s cynical aggression, Canada and Poland again stand shoulder to shoulder in calling on President Putin to respect the Russian Federation’s Geneva and Budapest commitments to de-escalate the crisis, call off its provocateurs and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said Baird. “Canada is pleased to be partnering with Poland on a coordinated approach in support of Ukraine’s future as a sovereign, unified and prosperous European state, free of Russian interference and threats.”

As a demonstration of Canada’s and Poland’s collaborative support of democracy in Ukraine, the two ministers signed the Canada-Poland Statement of Principles for Coordinated Engagement on Ukraine. In addition, Baird announced that Canada will contribute $9.2 million to joint Canadian and Polish projects that strengthen democratic development in Ukraine.

“Canada and Poland will explore ways to help Ukraine strengthen its institutions and restore stability because we know how important this is to any growing democracy,” said Baird. “We will also work with our Ukrainian partners in seeking solutions to their energy needs and help them take the important steps needed to reform their economy into a transparent and rules-based market system that is better equipped to integrate with the European Union.”

Like Poland, Canada continues to be at the forefront of the international community’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and has taken a number of steps to support the Ukrainian people as they work to restore political and economic stability, including imposing sanctions against those responsible for the ongoing crisis.

This is the Minister’s fourth visit to the region in recent months since the start of the crisis in Ukraine. Baird will next travel to Latvia followed by Estonia as part of a week-long visit to Eastern and Central Europe.

A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Canadian-Polish Support for Ukraine

Canada and Poland are among the strongest international supporters of Ukraine’s efforts to restore stability and implement democratic and economic reforms. As such, on April 23, 2014, Canada and Poland signed the Canada-Poland Statement of Principles for Coordinated Engagement on Ukraine. This agreement will guide cooperation between Canadian and Polish efforts to support democracy, human rights, economic growth and the rule of law in Ukraine.

In addition, Canada announced $9.2 million in support for Polish-led projects that strengthen democratic development in Ukraine. They include:

Support for Grassroots Democracy

Amount: $5.1 million
Time frame: 2014-2019

Project description: Canada will provide support to the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), initiated by Poland, to implement the EU-mandated mission of strengthening democratic transformation in the Eastern Partnership and European Neighbourhood countries. The Canadian contribution will be focused on support to pro-democracy actors and democratic development in Ukraine and will complement the EED’s regular assistance program.

Poland-Canada Democracy Support Program for Ukraine

Amount: $4.1 million
Time frame: 2014-2017

Project description: Through the Poland-Canada Democracy Support Program for Ukraine, which will work with the Polish organization Solidarity Fund PL, Canada will support capacity-building efforts for Ukraine’s democratic transition by facilitating the sharing of lessons learned from Poland in the areas of local governance, civil society and freedom of press.

Statement of Principles Between the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland for Coordinated Engagement on Ukraine and Eastern Europe

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (the “Participants”),

  • having in mind that Canada and the Republic of Poland, as close partners and Allies, have a mutual interest to assist foster a stable, prosperous and democratic Ukraine;
  • condemning the use of force by the Russian Federation against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the interference into its internal affairs;
  • taking steps, as Allies, to demonstrate NATO cohesion, deterrence and defence against threats to all Allies in a spirit of a truly transatlantic cooperation between the Republic of Poland and Canada;
  • playing pioneering and influential roles in promoting freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine, with which the Republic of Poland and Canada share deep historical, cultural and people-to-people ties;
  • determined to continue to assist the Ukrainian people in achieving their aspirations for a fully free and democratic society, and jointly resolved to coordinate efforts where practical and beneficial in engaging the Government of Ukraine to undertake reforms; and in supporting democratic civil society organizations, in and of Ukraine, to achieve these goals;
  • confirming their readiness to step up their technical cooperation through joint projects launched in Ukraine to achieve stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • reaffirming the mutual interest to strengthen the traditional bonds of cooperation, as well as the desire to enhance and diversify political dialogue, have decided to undertake cooperative efforts including, but not limited to, the following:

1. Drawing on the considerable policy and program strengths of the Canadian and Polish Embassies in Kyiv, along with the Republic of Poland’s extensive network of Consulates in Ukraine, the Participants will ensure that their two Embassies will periodically consult and coordinate bilaterally to seek complementarity of efforts in engaging Ukrainian partners when providing technical and development assistance, particularly on projects designed to enhance the role and effectiveness of democratic civil society organizations in Ukraine.

2. The Participants declare that they will work on co-location arrangements with regard to their consular presence in Ukraine.

3. Supplementing an already robust and ongoing program of military training assistance to Ukraine under NATO auspices, the respective Ambassadors of the Participants to Ukraine and to NATO, and other officials as required, are instructed to explore ways in which Canada and the Republic of Poland can build Ukrainian expertise in the fields of crisis response and peace support operations.

4. In support of Ukraine’s desires and efforts to increase efficiency in domestic energy consumption and distribution, and to diversify the international supply of energy to the Ukrainian market, the Participants pledge to work with Ukrainian partners in seeking solutions to Ukraine’s energy needs.

5. The Participants will ensure that their officials will consult and coordinate periodically to explore ways of assisting Ukrainian interlocutors to tackle corruption and criminality in the Ukrainian economy, with a view to transforming Ukraine’s economy into a more transparent, rules-based and  functioning market economy, better equipped to integrate with a diversified, global economy.

6. The Participants will continue cooperative efforts to expand this cooperation robustly and identify concrete means of support to Eastern European partners willing to deepen their multifaceted integration with the Euro-Atlantic community.

7. In the framework of mechanism for high-level bilateral consultations Eastern policy issues (including Ukraine) will be incorporated in the agenda of regular political consultations between the Participants. The Participants will continue to intensify bilateral contacts at senior political levels and their Deputy Foreign Ministers will aim to meet at least annually in respective capitals or in the margins of international meetings. The Participants will seek to strengthen government-to-government institutional linkages and encourage regular contacts between their senior officials, other government agencies and senior office holders.