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Annan begins official visit to Ukraine, discusses global hotspots with President Kuchma

Annan begins official visit to Ukraine, discusses global hotspots with President Kuchma

On his first-ever visit to Ukraine, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today met with President Leonid Kuchma to discuss the country’s role in the United Nations as well as trouble spots around the world.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with President Kuchma, the Secretary-General said they had discussed Ukraine’s role in the UN, including its active contribution to UN peacekeeping.

“And we did discuss crisis spots around the world and the need for us to use political means to resolve all these problems and our differences, because, quite honestly, in most of these situations there’s no military solution and the only way out is political dialogue and a political solution,” he said.

Asked about the international response to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Mr. Annan noted that during the emergency phase attention had been focused on the problem. “And now we should not take our eyes off the ball and we must remain focused, particularly in dealing with the human aspects of the crisis,” he said. “We are going to remain engaged and I assured the President that in my own contacts with world leaders I will encourage them to do the same.”

On his arrival in Ukraine on Sunday, the Secretary-General was asked at a press briefing about Ukraine’s intention to join NATO. In reply, he noted that the European continent was “coming together,” and added, “I think it is important that Ukraine is making these attempts to get closer to the rest of Europe.”

Mr. Annan pointed out that all European Union countries were striving to share common values of democracy, human rights and governance based on the rule of law. “Ukraine is becoming an important part of that movement, and I'm pleased about that,” he said.