Special Meeting of the OECD Council – Address by Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic
Remarks by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD
Paris, 17 February 2015
Dear Deputy Prime Minister, Dear Ambassadors,
It is an honour to introduce to Council the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, who has a long and distinguished career in public service. Having served with distinction as a diplomat for more than two decades, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs for the first time in 2009. Between end-2010 and taking up his current role in 2012, he was Managing Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS) for Europe and Central Asia. In this capacity, he acted as Chief Negotiator of the EU-Ukraine and EU-Moldova Association Agreements. And, of course, he’s playing a central role in the Slovak Republic’s Presidency of the ‘Visegrad 4’ (which includes the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland).
With such pedigree, he is very well prepared to impart insight to the Council today on building stronger links with Ukraine, so I’d like to start, Deputy Prime Minister, by thanking you for your visit.
The OECD has a long-standing engagement with Ukraine, dating back to the country’s independence in the early 1990s. Our collaboration has gradually intensified, and Ukraine is already a signatory to half-a-dozen OECD legal instruments and participates in four of our bodies[i].
In March 2014, cooperation reached a whole new level when Council decided to respond positively to Ukraine’s request for a strengthened relationship.
This led to the signing of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on 7 October 2014, setting the stage for a broader and more systematic co-operation. This MOU can be instrumental in advancing Ukraine’s reform agenda on areas like anti-corruption, public and corporate governance, investment, and competitiveness. We are working with Ukraine to develop an Action Plan for its implementation, and to secure the necessary funding. I recently met with President Poroshenko in Davos to discuss the next steps.
In the meantime, and with thanks to the generous support of donors – like Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the US – we are already delivering results:
We are also co-operating with the European Commission and its Support Group for Ukraine[ii], and we are coordinating with all key stakeholders to ensure the OECD is effective in supporting international efforts. In this respect, I propose to hold a high-level conference on Ukraine – a “Ukraine Day” – in our Paris Headquarters in the first half of 2015. The objective of this Conference would be to ensure that OECD support for Ukraine is as effective as possible, creating synergies where possible with the broader support of the international community.
I would like to pay particular tribute to the Slovak Republic’s strong engagement in the OECD’s work in Ukraine and in the broader region. The Slovak Republic is an excellent example of a country that has undergone a successful transition to become the thriving democracy and prosperous economy that it is today. Now, they are lending a helping hand to their neighbour to the East in its time of need. In this regard, I am grateful to Ambassador Brockova for accepting the position of Vice-Chair of the Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable last November.
By bringing to bear our multidisciplinary expertise, the OECD is playing a central role in supporting economic transformation across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Collectively, we want to see stability restored to Ukraine so that it too can follow this path of ‘better policies for better lives’ for all Ukrainians. And, like the Slovak Republic, the OECD will be by their side every step of the way!
Deputy Prime Minister, it is with great pleasure that I give you the floor.
[i] Ukraine is an Associate in the Steel Committee and a Participant in the Public Governance Committee, the Competition Committee and the Working Party on SMEs.
[ii] On 6 February, Deputy Secretary-General Danvers and Marcos Bonturi met with Mr. P. Balas.