Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Veteran of diplomatic service
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Veteran of diplomatic service, Member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine
Abstract. The article is dedicated to Heorhiy H. Shevel, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Soviet Ukraine from August of 1970 to November of 1980.The authors presented sincere recollections about this well known person, under whose leadership they began their diplomatic service that lasted for several decades.
The decision to share those memories with readers of Diplomatic Ukraine was prompted by the fact that on May 9 this year was Mr. Shevel`s 100 anniversary. Unfortunately, neither the researchers of the history of Ukrainian diplomacy, nor those in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic Academy paid the necessary tribute to this event.
The authors of the article focus on the fact that with no previous experience in foreign policy matters Mr. Shevel managed in the conditions of a totalitarian Soviet system to realize important ideas in the interests of the Ukrainian diplomatic service and its development.
From the very start of his duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs he undertook many practical steps to promote and improve the professional skills of his subordinates, to ensure their perfect command of foreign languages and to provide the Ministry`s staff and Ukraine`s permanent missions at the United Nations in New York, UNESCO in Paris and at other international organizations with a skilled personnel. Moreover, despite essential dependence on the policy of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shevel also succeeded in ensuring more visible results of participation of the Ukrainian SSR in the activities of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and in the International Labour Organization.
During his term as Minister for Foreign Affairs, representatives of the Ukrainian SSR were elected 37 times to the governing bodies of various international organizations, their sessions and conferences. As an evidence of substantial resurgence of Ukrainian diplomacy of the said period is the fact that the Ukrainian SSR also signed and ratified 64 multilateral international documents.
Minister Shevel also paid particular attention to establishing Ukraine`s image abroad as one of the original members of the United Nations, by promoting its achievements in scientific, cultural and humanitarian fields, as well as to strengthening ties with Ukrainian communities in various foreign countries. This very important component of its work the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accomplished in close cooperation with two public organizations – the Society for ties with Ukrainians abroad (Society Ukraina) and the Ukrainian Society for friendship and cultural relations with foreign countries.
Minister H. Shevel was also the initiator of the construction in Kyiv of several buildings to locate Consulates–General of Eastern-European states. Nowadays, these buildings are used by diplomatic missions of respective foreign states accredited in independent Ukraine.
The authors of the reviewed article are confident that despite various fabricated and often unfounded conclusions about the Ukrainian diplomacy of the Soviet period the irrefutable fact is that during Minister Shevel`s years it acquired and strengthened the necessary practical experience and professional diplomatic skills.
Therefore, they support as indisputable the conclusion made several years ago by one of the researchers of the history of National diplomacy that “it would be incorrect to consider the 1970s of the past century as such that passed off in vain for the Ukrainian foreign-policy office”.30 years have passed since the untimely death of Heorhiy H. Shevel on July 17, 1989. Being a man of his times and performing highly responsible duties of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in actually limited framework, he was at the same time a peculiar and extraordinary personality. And as such a figure he will always remain in the memory of all who knew him well and had the opportunity to work under his management. Because memory, emphasize the authors of the noted article, means first and foremost the ability not to forget the past. And this, they remark, is what the present generation of Ukrainian diplomats must keep in view and never forget.
Keywords: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ukrainian diplomacy, foreign policy, international organizations, diplomatic service, memory.