The Year of Russia in Ukraine follows the Year of Ukraine in Russia, which ended recently. The Presidents agreed to hold these cultural events in August 2001, when they met in Kiev during the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.
Addressing the public at the Ukraine National Palace, Mr Putin said that holding the Year of Ukraine in Russia demonstrated the two nation’s shared intention to stay together and the significant potential of Russian-Ukrainian political, economic, regional and cultural cooperation. Both Russians and Ukrainians supported the idea of closer cultural exchange; therefore, the main task the organisers of the event was the strengthening of positive trends in bilateral cooperation, above all, in education, science and public contacts.
Mr Kuchma said Ukraine welcomed Russian art experts, scientists and businessmen. Developing partnership, he added, is necessitated by life itself, by the processes of globalisation and integration that increasingly characterise the modern world.
A gala concert and a reception were held to mark the opening of the Year of Russia in Ukraine.
Following the concert, Mr Putin and Mr Kuchma held a brief working meeting.