Ukraine Ambassador Yevhen Mykytenko.
By Isabel Ovalle
DOHA: Ukraine recently opened an Embassy in Qatar to coincide with the 20th anniversary of relations between the two countries. The Eastern European country looks at Qatar as a future supplier of natural gas, a commodity that it now imports only from Russia.
“We try to diversify our sources of gas, that’s why we look upon Qatar as well,” said the Ambassador, Yevhen Mykytenko, who has vast experience in the region, with previous postings in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, among others.
Trade between the two countries is $24m by products, a figure which, with services, was around $40m. Mykytenko said that Ukraine buys chemical products from Qatar, and sells agricultural produce and steel.
“Unfortunately, they are small quantities but we have great possibilities to export different metals and other materials to be used in construction. In addition, we have very qualified manpower,” he said.
The first diplomatic delegation from Ukraine visited Doha in 1993. Two decades later the country has opened a permanent mission here.
“We understand that Qatar at that time was busy with different things, while we were a very young country that needed to establish relations with our neighbours and other European countries first,” explained the diplomat.
“Qatar is a heavyweight country and the biggest energy supplier in the world. It has the brightest perspectives and a very high speed of development,” the envoy said. Ukraine wants to take part in this process, contributing with manpower and the export of construction materials. There are approximately 400 Ukrainians here.
The Ambassador admitted that the two states still have to work in the widening of their relations, the first step being the upcoming opening of a Qatari Embassy in Kiev in approximately three months.
In 2011, the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani travelled to Ukraine, and in 2012 the Prime Minister and the President of the European country visited Qatar during separate trips.
Approximately 25 Qataris have requested visas since the Embassy started issuing them on April 2. The two countries have agreements to give visa exceptions for diplomatic and special passports.
The ambassador presented his credentials to the Emir last week. During the meeting the sides discussed the current state of cooperation between Ukraine and Qatar in the fields of trade, investment, energy, tourism, and the prospects of development of the legal framework, in particular in the areas of science and technology, health, and culture.