PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko’s recent state visit to Israel was the first since he was elected soon after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. It was also the first time a Ukrainian president spoke before Israel’s Knesset.
The tragic developments that have unfolded in Ukraine since 2014 are a heavy burden for the people of Ukraine, who suffered the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Russian-inspired war in the country’s east and a catastrophic economic collapse. There have been thousands of civilian and military deaths, tens of thousands have been wounded and hundreds of thousands have become refugees.
It is thus not surprising that Ukraine wishes to develop its relations with Israel. For many Ukrainians Israel is an example, of a country, surrounded by aliens, that on bare land has developed an effective state and flourishing economy. Of how to accept and absorb millions of immigrants, how to achieve the highest standards in medicine, science and education. Of how to build a strong army and effective security services. We Ukrainians are in great need of this knowledge and experience.
Ukrainian Jewry have greatly contributed toward the creation of the Jewish state, and continue to do so. Our countries are connected not only officially and diplomatically, but also by hundreds of thousand of unbreakable family ties. One could hardly find another example of a country with which Ukraine has so strong a family connection. For many years already Ukraine and Israel have enjoyed visafree regime. Four daily flights between Kiev and Tel Aviv also says a lot. Ukraine supports Israel in the international arena. Israel in turn does a lot to provide our country with modern medical equipment, technologies and scientific exchange. The number of tourists between our countries has grown significantly.
But still there are many more areas in which our countries can do a lot together. Let’s take the economy, for example.
Ukraine has an over 40-million-strong, highly educated population, and with its strategic location could become a “promising land” for Israeli investment and technology. Radical changes that President Poroshenko is implementing in the country, fighting corruption and championing economic reforms, will make Ukraine a modern, attractive and effective state.
Our countries can work together for the sake of all humanity. I mean counteracting global warming, fighting against terrorism, developing space technologies and much more.
The Jewish community of Ukraine sincerely and strongly supports its country. Right now my fellow Ukrainian Jews can proudly say “I’m a Ukrainian of Jewish origin.” At the same time, we are very proud of Israel and will do everything possible for our countries be friends and prosper.
The author is a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee.