Your Excellency the Ambassador of Ukraine,
1. What are the goals and functions of an ambassador in face of the corona pandemic?
Among the main duties of any ambassador has always been providing assistance and protection to the citizens of home country while they are staying abroad. During the coronavirus pandemic times this function became vitally important.
Today we are facing a health threat like no other in lifetimes. Many countries all over the world have taken unprecedented emergency measures to stop this virus from spreading in a desperate move to protect their population from the disease at any cost.
Like most of the countries Ukraine closed its borders for crossing and halted all scheduled air and land passenger services. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were forced to stay abroad for an undefined period of time. In such difficult situation the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine by means of the Embassies and the Consulates is continuing to take all necessary measures to meet the need of the citizens of Ukraine who are turned out to stay abroad.
Speaking about Ukrainian citizens in Israel I can tell that we successfully organized 7 charter flights for bringing our nationals back home. Of course, not everyone was willing to use these flights for different reasons and we still have quite a number of Ukrainians in Israel who sooner or late will probably need to fly home. When time passing by some may found themselves in difficult position and would be looking for help.
That’s why at the end of March following the borders closures the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created an electronic registration system for our citizens abroad called “FRIEND” and embassies started to implement appropriate measures. As an example, transit corridors for our citizens have been established with a number of bordering countries. Special places for mandatory observation have been created. Since then we have returned home more than 60,000 Ukrainian citizens, including those from Israel.
All citizens of Ukraine abroad who are in need due to the coronavirus pandemic should apply to the embassies or consulates of Ukraine for assistance. Within the framework of the program, Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad, in particular, inform citizens about the possibility of returning to Ukraine, or moving to neighboring countries closer to Ukraine for further organized transfer to home. Diplomats advice on household issues and health care, resolve overdue documents/permits/visas to stay in a foreign country, etc.
Despite the pandemic we continue our routine diplomatic work, mostly performing our essential duties via networks. We continue to maintain friendly bilateral relations among our states, especially mutual cooperation in various fields, in support for our economies and trade. Cooperating across the borders we strive to do everything we can to put the pandemic to an end and to overcome its terrible consequences.
2. What is, since the beginning of the pandemic, the situation of the foreign diplomats in Israel? Any specific problems or challenges?
The situation among the foreign diplomats in Israel in regard to the pandemic does not differ much from the conditions which the majority of the people of your country are facing.
As the residents of the country we strictly adhere to all norms and recommendations of the Israeli government on the implementation of quarantine regulations and instructions of the Ministry of Health of Israel.
We do not face any problems or difficulties other than those experienced by ordinary Israelis.
We are all having our fingers crossed in hope for an improvement and a return to normal life.
3. How does Ukraine struggle against the coronavirus?
On April 21, 6,125 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus were recorded in Ukraine, of which 161 were fatal, 367 patients recovered. We expect the peak incidence of COVID-19 coronavirus infection in Ukraine in early days of May.
I would like to emphasize that fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is under constant attention of the President and the Government of Ukraine.
Since mid-March a number of complex measures have been taken to safeguard the lives and health of Ukrainians similar to those of the countries where statistics were much worse. Among them – medical, economical and quarantine measures.
First of all, were prepared more than 12,000 infectious beds for the complex cases. Medical facilities have been re-profiled to receive and treat patients in serious conditions. Capability of hospitals for intensive care patients were also strengthen.
World pandemic experience and best practices are being constantly studied, including Israeli ones, and vaccine development is underway.
Ukraine has sent doctors to Italy to help with the pandemic. They gained valuable experience and knowledge. This implies a response to the coronavirus peak, the rapid deployment of new observation sites and mobile hospitals.
We deliver constantly from China and South Korea to Ukraine test systems and express tests, protective suits and mechanical ventilation equipment, masks and respirators. At the same time, we are increasing domestic production. In particular, Ukraine started making its own test systems.
Now we are talking with one of the Israeli ventilation equipment producer to establish such production line in Ukraine in nearest future.
Negotiations with the IMF and other international partners are underway to provide financial support to address the effects of coronavirus, humanitarian aid and, among other, medical equipment.
Our National Bank has developed a program of measures for credit support of business and population of Ukraine. Ministry of Finance, state and commercial banks have worked out a program of credit vacations for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the concept of tax relives. Work to create a stabilization fund is underway. It will be used to support doctors, teachers, pensioners, unfortunately quarantined workers, and help Ukrainian businesses. Where reduced salaries of high officials and judges, as well as top executives of state-owned enterprises.
Daily broadcasts of online lessons and the national project “All-Ukrainian School Online” were started (11 subjects are taught).
In regards to quarantine measures, starting from March 17, 2020 it is prohibited to accept visitors to cultural institutions, shopping and entertainment centers, restaurants, cafes, fitness centers and other catering, entertainment and services. Rail, air and bus interurban and interregional passenger transportation and work of subways were put on halt. Urban transportation was limited to the certain numbers of passengers. Mass events involving more than 10 people, including ceremonies, where also prohibited.
In April the Government has introduced new restrictions to overcome coronavirus. This, in particular, is a must-wear mask in public. In addition, when going outside, you must have an ID card. Visiting parks, squares and recreation areas is only possible for walking pets. Administrative and criminal liability applies for violation of quarantine rules.
For now the quarantine measures in Ukraine have been prolonged until May 11th.
4. What is your message to the people of Israel on this month of Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron of the fallen Israeli soldiers and Israel’s Independence Day?
This month, when Israel marks Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haazmaut, is a solemn month.
Honouring the memory of the six million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust, honouring the memory of those who fell in the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel and in its defense, and celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the State all Israelis pay tribute to the events of their recent history, its heroes and martyrs.
Each year, marking these events together with Israelis I am delighted to see all of you expressing gratitude to the founding fathers of Israel, to those who fought for the country’s independence and its continued existence. Undoubtedly, Israelis have to be proud of such amazing achievements.
My message to you – continue to be united and strong together, as the whole world witnesses your success and looks at you as a worthily example of honouring own history and creation of a beautiful country filled with love of its people.
Happy Independence Day!
Ambassador of Ukraine
to the State of Israel