On December 2, 1991, Canada became the first western country to recognize Ukraine's independence. This was quickly followed up by the establishment of diplomatic relations with Ukraine on January 27, 1992. These relations, which have been strengthened by the 1.2 million strong Ukrainian-Canadian community, have grown to encompass cooperation in commercial, political, and security spheres.
Canada and Ukraine enjoy close bilateral relations. Historic ties of friendship forged through generations of Ukrainian migration to Canada are reinforced by shared values and interests to produce a mature, balanced and mutually beneficial 21st century partnership. The 1994 Declaration on the "Special Partnership", renewed in 2001, and again in 2008, recognizes Canada's support for the development of Ukraine and the importance of our bilateral cooperation to ensure stability and prosperity in the world. Ukrainians continue to travel and immigrate to Canada in significant numbers, further reinforcing the close familial, social, and cultural ties between the two countries.
Canada and Ukraine cooperate in a range of international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and La Francophonie.
The Embassy of Canada in Kyiv is at the heart of our engagement with Ukraine. The Consulate of Canada in Lviv provides valuable services to western Ukraine. Ukraine is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa. Ukraine also has a Consulate General in Toronto and an Honorary Consulate in Vancouver.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in November 2013, Canada has been at the forefront of the international community’s support for the Ukrainian people; first in their fight for democracy and reform under the Yanukovych regime, and then in their efforts to resist Russian military aggression, including the illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
Canada has imposed sanctions against over 210 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities, and sent over 500 observers to monitor both Ukraine’s May Presidential, and October Parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also announced more than $220 million in support to help Ukraine stabilize its economy and promote economic development.
Other contributions include the new package of assistance for Ukraine through the Global Peace and Security Fund, to provide $15 million in non-lethal material and equipment to Ukraine security services, including winter gear, a mobile field hospital, protective vests, first aid kits, tents, and sleeping bags. Most recently, Canada announced a contribution of $3 million to three NATO Centres of Excellence that deal with cyber-security, energy security, and strategic communications.
Ukraine is one of 25 countries of focus for Canada’s development assistance. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, Canada has provided over $493 million in development assistance support to Ukraine. During and following Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity” Canada has expedited and substantially increased support to Ukraine in the areas of advancing democracy and sustainable economic growth.
The goal of Canadian bilateral development assistance in Ukraine is to improve economic opportunities for Ukrainians in a strengthened democracy. Canada is working with the Government of Ukraine and other development partners to rapidly implement the significant reforms needed for Ukraine to realize its full economic potential and build a sound public institutional and legal environment for closer integration with Europe.
Canada is a leading partner for Ukraine in the following areas: democracy and governance, macroeconomic and financial sector management, civil society development, prevention of human trafficking, legal and judicial reform, agriculture, decentralization and local economic development, SME development, media freedom, and the promotion and protection of human rights, including religious freedom. In addition to contributing to numerous bilateral and multilateral electoral observation missions, Canada has consistently supported electoral system capacity-building in Ukraine.
Canada is also supporting Canadian and international humanitarian organizations to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
High-level meetings between Canada and Ukraine take place on a regular basis. In February 2014, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was the first western official to travel to Kyiv and welcome Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s new government, and in July 2014 Minister of International Trade Ed Fast led a timely peace and prosperity mission.
On March 22, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first G-7 leader to travel to Ukraine since Russia moved to annex Crimea. On 7 June, 2014, Prime Minister Harper traveled to Kyiv to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Petro Poroshenko as the new President of Ukraine. Most recently, President Poroshenko visited Ottawa on 17 September, 2014, and discussed economic and social development promotion with Prime Minister Harper.
The two countries have signed a variety of agreements and memoranda of understanding covering such areas as trade, technical cooperation, defence and mutual legal assistance.
Ukraine is a top-priority country within the region for the Military Training Cooperation Program (MTCP). Canada supports the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group through the provision of language, staff officer, and peacekeeping training for Ukrainian military and civilian personnel. With Canada’s ongoing commitment and increased support to Ukraine, the MTCP has duly responded by increasingly the course offerings to Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. Ukraine is currently the largest participant in Canada’s MTCP.
Through the G8-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, Canada and Ukraine cooperate in projects in the area of nuclear security and nuclear safety (including the Chornobyl Shelter Fund), the redirection of former weapons scientists through the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine (STCU), and border security. Between 2003 and 2012 Canada provided Ukraine with over $57.5 million for nuclear and radiological safety and security, and over $20 million to help redirect the work of former weapons scientists towards peaceful pursuits.
Canada and Ukraine enjoy positive commercial relations and in Canada’s Global Market Access Plan, Ukraine is designated a priority emerging market with specific opportunities for Canadian businesses. In 2013, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ukraine increased 2.8% over 2012, reaching over $322.3 million. Canada’s merchandise exports totaled $210.1 million, up 41.1% from 2012. Top exports included mineral fuels and oils, fish and seafood, pharmaceuticals, meat and machinery. Canada’s imports from Ukraine totaled $112.2 million in 2013, and top imports included mineral fuels and oils, iron and steel products, fertilizers, and woven apparel.
While bilateral commercial relations are good, there is much room to expand commercial relations between Canada and Ukraine. Ukraine continues to be a promising market for agrifood products, fish, and seafood. Given Ukraine’s significant unconventional oil and gas deposits, there is increased interest in these sectors as well. In addition, Ukrainian students continue to come to Canada to study at Canadian universities.
Canada and Ukraine have signed a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in 1995, a Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation in 1996 and an Air Transport Agreement in 1999, amended in 2014. Canada and Ukraine are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
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