Kiev is keen to widen ties with Doha
Marking a new chapter in bilateral relations, Qatar will open its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kiev within three months, Ukrainian ambassador to Qatar Yevhen Mykytenko told Gulf Times. Ukraine opened its embassy in Doha earlier this year. “April 13 was a special day
in the history of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Ukraine. Twenty years ago on April 13, 1993, the first Ukrainian delegation headed
by then Ukrainian prime minister Leonid Kuchma visited Doha. It was during this visit that the protocol of diplomatic relations was signed,” Mykytenko said. Since then there have been many high-level visits between the two countries. In October 2011, HH the Emir visited Ukraine.
In May 2012, the Ukrainian prime minister visited Qatar and in November 2012, the Ukrainian president also came to Doha. However, it took 20 years for the two countries to reach the stage of opening embassies in their respective countries. When asked why it took so long, the ambassador explained that both Qatar and Ukraine had been busy with building their own economies and establishing relations with their neighbouring countries first in the last two decades. The new embassy is to be located at Labhariyya Street 815, 66th district, Legtaifiya
Area in Doha. “Qatar too is all set to open its embassy in Kiev. In the coming two-three months, the State of Qatar will have its own embassy in Kiev,” he added. Approximately 10 different bilateral agreements are already in place between the two countries. Also, around 400 Ukrainian nationals are in Qatar, who work in various sectors. Mykytenko said Ukraine is aware of Qatar’s growing importance as a political
and economic heavyweight in the Middle East and the Gulf region. “Especially in the last four years, all important issues in the Middle East and Gulf countries have been discussed in Doha. Without consultations with Doha neither the Americans nor other big players take final decisions.” “Ukraine is now interested in widening its relations with Qatar and is especially looking forward to importing gas from here. When Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, oil and gas was discovered in Ukraine. But for several years, all of Soviet Union used this oil from Ukraine, which depleted its reserves. Nowadays, although we still have oil and gas, it lies deep inside, almost 6km deep, which is not so easy to take out and is also very expensive. “Ukraine now looks to getting oil and gas from Qatar to fuel its large and robust economy. At the moment, the only gas supply we get is from Russia. We are trying to diversify our sources of energy,” he said. The volume of trade between
the two countries last year was $24mln. Trade as a whole, in services, was $40mn. Ukraine buys from Qatar petrochemicals, and sells to
Qatar agricultural products, heavy machinery and steel. About Qatari investments in Ukraine, the ambassador said: “At present, there
is no Qatari investment in Ukraine. I think, Qatar needs sometime to know more about Ukraine as a country and what kind of investment opportunities it can provide.” The ambassador believes that if Qatar invested in sectors like agriculture, it would get quick and profitable
returns. Ukraine is the biggest producer of grains in Europe. It is one of the biggest producers of barley in the world. About 50% of sunflower oil produced in the world comes from Ukraine. “We have much more possibilities. We have great possibilities to export to Qatar different kind of metals and materials that can be used in construction,” he said. As a co-host of the European Championship, the ambassador feels that
Ukraine can share its expertise and manpower with Qatar, which is all set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The ambassador believes that over a period of time, the volume of trade between the two countries can cross the billion dollar mark. He
gave the example of Saudi Arabia where he was posted as the first ambassador from Ukraine between 1996 and 2000. “At that time, our
trade co-operation with Saudi Arabia was just $20m, but now it’s $1bn per year.” He revealed that since April 2, already around 25 visas were issued to Qataris to visit Ukraine.