Ukraine President gives lecture here, meets PM Lee

Ukraine President gives lecture here, meets PM Lee
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Asia Fullerton Lecture at a hotel in Singapore December 9, 2014.

SINGAPORE - Ukraine wants to stop the loss of lives and blood in its ongoing conflict with Russia, but not at the cost of its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity, visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said at a lecture in Singapore yesterday.

And giving up on Ukraine or forcing it to give up on itself will be a decision with long echoes, he said, adding that significant parts of his country remain under the control of Russia or pro-Russian rebels even as a shaky new ceasefire was attempted yesterday.

Mr Poroshenko was on a two-day visit to Singapore, and earlier yesterday he met President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Both Singapore leaders "reiterated Singapore's support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"They also expressed the need for all parties to respect international law, take steps to de-escalate tensions and resolve the conflict peacefully," it added.

Earlier this year, Russian troops intervened in the Crimean Peninsula, and Crimea was incorporated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.

In a Facebook post yesterday evening, Mr Lee said: "I told President Poroshenko that we took a strong stand against these actions because we believe all countries, big and small, must observe international law."

He added: "This is vital to small countries like Singapore. We are friends with both Russia and Ukraine, and hope that they can resolve their differences peacefully."

In his speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture, Mr Poroshenko said when he and Mr Lee met, they also discussed a free trade agreement between Singapore and Ukraine, and ways both sides can promote investment, such as facilitating visas.

In his lecture, Mr Poroshenko also thanked Singapore and other countries which stood with Ukraine for their solidarity.

Besides foreign aggression, Mr Poroshenko said the other "key enemy" of Ukraine was corruption.

Yesterday, he also visited the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau to learn about Singapore's anti-graft practices.

He said his administration was planning new tax regulations to close loopholes and pay more attention to the incomes and expenditures of public servants, adding: "Singapore's anti-corruption policies will be a benchmark for us."

Answering questions from the floor, Mr Poroshenko, who has made his country's joining the European Union (EU) a key goal, explained that meeting EU standards will create a climate of predictability and competitiveness that will attract investors.

"With the same rule of law, with the same standards, we can go either to Germany or to Singapore," he said. "Without them, we can go neither to Germany nor to Singapore.

This article was first published on December 10, 2014.
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