Press office of President
Statement of the President at the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine
Dear participants of the meeting!
I propose to begin our today meeting and hold a moment of silence to honor those who died in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during the Counterterrorist operation.
A moment of silence.
Please be seated.
Dear friends! Today the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council takes place in emergency circumstances and the agenda that has been formed provides an analysis of the current situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
It is also proposed to discuss the details of the peace plan initiatives of the President to be offered as early as this week.
In addition, according to schedule and in compliance with decisions that will be taken today by the National Security and Defense Council a cease-fire will be proposed as the beginning of the implementation of the peace plan of the President. I also hope that we will be able to do everything to hear it as early as this week and we expect highly coordinated actions of all Ukrainian authorities and a strong approval of peace initiatives of the President by the inhabitants of Donetsk and Luhansk enabling a peaceful resolution of the situation in the Donbas.
I want to emphasize that the time of the cease-fire will be limited. It is irresponsible today to get involved in prolonged negotiations because we do not need negotiations for negotiations. We now urgently need to set the regime when, on the one hand, we can guarantee the safety of everyone who lives in Donetsk and Luhansk, we can guarantee protection against looting and facilitate the disarmament process to be followed by a decision on amnesty or protection against criminal responsibility of those who have not committed serious crimes, who are not guilty of the deaths.
We, our team laid out a lion's share of the peace plan during my inaugural address of the President. It includes also key elements of decentralization. I want to tell you that the draft is prepared and we discussed constitutional changes with the Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada. I think this week the draft amendments to the Constitution will be signed by me and submitted to the Parliament. I also hope that this week they will be sent to the Venice Commission.
The draft amendments to the Constitution provide a key element of the peace plan - decentralization of power. Decentralization of power, on which Ukrainian government worked a lot, the foundations of the concept of which were elaborated with me. I believe that thus the delegation of a large part of presidential powers to local communities will provide the opportunity now to take over responsibility for as well as directions of the development of the regions to the local communities and local councils which will be elected already with new powers and will be able to form executive committees.
I believe that the lion's share of challenges – starting with the problems of the use of language, including Russian language, in the community – will be in the competence of local authorities. A substantial part of humanitarian issues, a significant expansion of budget opportunities will correspond to a significant increase of responsibility of local communities.
Early local elections are also assumed to be held in Donetsk and Luhansk immediately after the adoption of the peace plan and amendments to the Constitution to enable the community to choose their representatives and thus give the powers for the responsibility for peace and harmony in the territory of community.
Active and firm enhancement of the combat capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will also be a key element of my presidential politics and we can guarantee today the inviolability of Ukraine's borders, including the border with Russia.
You know that one of the points of today meeting of the National Security and Defense Council is the accomplishment of the return of control over the Ukraine's border with the Russian Federation. I can say that drastic changes occurred in the situation on that border last week. The control was regained over more than 250 kilometers of the border and the checkpoints were established. On my instructions today the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council has held a press conference where he determined the new checkpoints, new locations of the Armed Forces together with border guards that now will allow to say that the ways of getting into the territory of the Ukraine of military units, tanks, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, recently freely crossing the border, are now closed on two most dangerous parts of this road. We are going to restore the security of the state border by decisive actions this week. I hope that we will manage to do it fully.
I honestly say that it is the only limiting factor for the implementation of the cease-fire. Once the border is closed, we may immediately declare a cease-fire system. To declare a cease-fire on the open border is irresponsible regarding the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk. And today, I will say it again, the level of combat capability, the level of determination of the Armed Forces, border guards, the National Guard gives me grounds for cautious optimism about the dates of implementation.
Moreover, we will hear the report on the situation in the regions. The Acting Head of Luhansk Region, the Head of the Donetsk Regional Administration are present here today and I think that today we will consider the issue of defense contracts already taking into account the situation and the experience we have gained in the last 2-3 months.
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