of President of Ukraine H.E. Mr. Petro POROSHENKO
at the Traditional meeting with heads of diplomatic representation of foreign states and intentional organizations accredited in Ukraine
(Kyiv, 16 January 2018)
Dear Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I sincerely congratulate you with the New Year!
May 2018 be the year of peace, well-being for all of us!
May it be the year of development and progress for states and nations worldwide!
Today it is for the first time that we meet in the Mariinsky Palace – a renovated one.
Unfortunately, for over many years, this masterpiece of architecture had gradually degraded.
And now this Palace receives a new life, after its renovation.
As well as Ukraine does, through reforms.
I am extremely happy that it is the foreign diplomats, who are the first to take part in the official event in this beautiful building, right after its renovation.
We are entering into important and symbolic year – a century since the launch of deep democratic changes not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe.
In 1918, as result of downfall of empires, dozens of nations restored or regained their independence.
They were the nations of Central Europe, Baltic and Balkan regions.
They also were the nations that had been under the rule of the czarist Russia.
I would like to congratulate sincerely all our friends with this jubilee, for whom these events of a century ago became an important stage in the state building.
But today it is not only about commemorating those events, but above all about learning the lessons drawn from the history.
Too many parallels are so noticeable from the standpoint of today.
The same epicentre of destabilisation in Europe.
So painfully similar are crazy ideas that were behind the Russia of Bolsheviks and that are behind the Russia of today.
No less similar are the cynical methods of its aggression.
Back then, as it is today, a young Ukrainian state became a target of Russia’s assault.
And it is for the only reason of willing to be free and independent.
In its hatred toward Ukraine, both red and white Russia displayed an impressive unity.
Back then, we lacked an appropriate international support.
We were not heard in Versailles.
What happened afterward everybody knows: decades of blackmailing, occupation and terror of the Soviet regime that spilled over to many nations around the globe.
Take Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Take Yalta post-war division on zones of influence and Iron Curtain … Take Moscow aggression against Hungary and Czechoslovakia, or against Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
I will keep repeating: if only the democratic Europe had not fallen into treacherous compromises with the Russia of Bolsheviks and Ukraine’s democracy and independence had been secured, than many tragedies of the twentieth century would have been prevented.
I will also keep calling my compatriots, supporters of opposition: one has always to balance the degree of internal political competition while taking into due account the situation on our eastern border.
The entourage of empty tents around this Palace, which you saw, dear guests, is a display of pseudo-politicians, who lost the sense of balance and went bankrupt.
This is also a display that Ukrainians are wise and will not let the Russian dictatorship to use the Ukrainian democracy in its imperialistic interests.
Lessons of hundred years ago should be learned not only by us in Ukraine, but also in the democratic community around the globe.
The first lesson is about the democratic values that cannot be a subject for trading, nor for compromises.
If paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s words, I would say: when between comfort and democratic values we chose comfort, than we will lose both in the end.
The second lesson is about attempts to appeasing aggressor, which always lead to a greater appetite from the aggressor and to a new aggression, with no exception.
That is why the need of firm answer of no compromises to those who violate norms of the international law is so obvious today.
The third lesson is that the Kremlin is never to be trusted, despite the regime it is masked under – czarist, communist or pseudo-democratic one.
The history, including of the last one hundred years, confirms that aggression, lies, manipulations, repression, and suppression of free speech is present in either form of this state.
Thus, the task of the civilised world is to secure that we always have effective tools to restrain and to counter any attempts of Russian aggression – be it military, economic or fake news.
And another lesson, which has been proven by history on many occasions.
The lesson, which is so known for Moscow, unfortunately.
The most effective tool against the restoration of imperial ambitions and appetites of Russia is a democratic, successful and independent Ukraine.
Everything that Russia does today has one aim, which is to return us into so-called “sphere of its influence”, and to destroy the Ukrainian statehood as such.
Ukraine stands at a forefront.
I have told about it on many occasions. And I will repeat it again: it is the Ukrainian army, which, at costs of lives of its heroes, defends peace, stability, democracy and freedom in Europe.
It is in Ukraine that the creation of Europe is ongoing. We are not anymore the multi-vector nation, we are a nation with Ukrainian aspirations.
You will not find any other country all over the globe that was able to face such a dramatic challenge and to deliver results on both tracks – at the front of countering Russian aggression, and at the front of necessary reforms.
It would be impossible to make without the support of our international partners.
Words of my sincere gratitude I address, first of all, to our friends in the European Union for the great achievements. These are our common achievements, not just of the Ukrainian President, Ukrainian Government or Ukrainian people.
Last year we have managed to write down a bright page in the history of Ukraine’s integration in the EU.
The Association Agreement was launched in its full scale.
A long-awaited visa free regime was introduced.
These fundamental game-changers did not only anchor Ukraine in the EU bay, but also opened new prospects for visa-free travel across the nations of so-called “white list” of the EU.
This year we have to deliver on the suggestions we agreed with the EU on the next steps in our gradual convergence – be it trade and energy, be it mobility and digital market.
We will tirelessly work on this agenda.
My words of gratitude also go to the United States of America.
Last year our American partners confirmed to be in the lead of fight against Russia’s revanchist policies.
From the first meeting with President Trump we coordinated the strengthening of our strategic partnership based on Great Deal on Peace and Great Plan of Success.
We are grateful for “Peace through Strength” approach and, accordingly, for the decision to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons. Finally.
As well as for the coordinated efforts with a view to implementing the initiative on deployment of the UN peacekeeping operation in the occupied Donbas.
This is the message to all our friends.
We also praise the US firm stand as regards the transatlantic unity and solidarity with Ukraine, including on the policy of sanctions.
They are the most efficient and civilized reply to the bullying Russia.
The words of my appreciation go also to our partners in the Normandy format – to Germany and France.
I wish all the best to Chancellor Merkel, and believe that the emerging government coalition in Germany will be based on steady support of Ukraine and its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
I would also like to thank President Macron for his leadership and vision of a new Europe.
Together with the powerful international pro-Ukrainian coalition, we should finally make Russia to fully implement the Minsk agreements.
Allow me to thank also Austria as the OSCE chairmanship last year, and to wish every success to Italy’s chairmanship this year. We are looking forward to closely cooperating on bringing peace back on the Ukrainian land.
I would like to commend the brave and committed activity of numerous SMM OSCE observers in the occupied Donbas. Even the threat to their health and lives from Russian occupation forces does not stop them from fulfilling their noble mission.
There is nothing impossible when we all join our efforts and speak with one voice. Christmas release of hostages is a brilliant example.
This year we will be working to ensure that the rest of Ukrainian hostages from occupied Donbas and Crimea and political prisoners detained in Russia would also return to their homes in Ukraine at the earliest possible.
We will keep paving the way for reintegration of the occupied Ukrainian lands by peaceful and politically diplomatic means.
This is the key message of the relevant law, which is being considered today in the Ukrainian parliament, upon my initiative. I strongly hope that the voting will be successful.
This is the message to both – Donbas and Crimea: you are an integral part of Ukraine and we will do our utmost to bring you back home as soon as possible.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all our friends who voted in support of the UN GA Resolution on human rights in the occupied Crimea. Every single nation. Thank you for this very strong position.
But especially to the co-authors of the Resolution as partners of the International platform of de-occupation of Crimea, which took its shape and started its activity.
Last year Ukraine finalised its non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council. I thank all partners with whom we worked in this format over two years.
As a newly-elected member of the UN Human Rights Council for the next 3 years, Ukraine will use all available tools to counter violations of the human rights in the occupied territories and worldwide.
I invite our partners to work jointly in the framework of this key institution of the UN system in the field of human rights.
Last year, particularly in autumn, Ukraine took important steps as regards the adoption of a number of strategic reforms.
They make us more resilient internally, and that is the way to proceed this year.
I shall thank our partners, above all the G7 countries, for your support of Ukraine.
I thank Japan, to whom we are grateful not only for Ise-Shima formula, but also for fantastic year of Japan in Ukraine.
And Canada, which the G7 chairmanship has just started, for a very intensive agenda of assisting reforms in Ukraine.
We count that this assistance would materialize, in particular, in the European plan for Ukraine.
The Strategic Defense Bulletin with NATO is brilliant example, thanks to which we strengthen our defensive potential based on principles of interoperability with the Alliance. And this year this work we will be continued, in particular in the run-up to the NATO Summit in Brussels.
Our gratitude goes to numerous humanitarian organizations and international donors for your valuable support in mitigating the negative consequences of the Russian aggression.
And above all, for your humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons and for your assistance in rehabilitation of liberated Ukraine’s territories.
I greatly appreciate the support by the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD.
You were helping us strengthening macroeconomic and financial stability, and thus bringing confidence in Ukraine as from potential investors.
Together we have made possible an “autumn of reforms” in Ukraine.
We have set up a new Supreme Court of Ukraine – from scratch, and by means of an open competition, with active participation of the civil society.
We have adopted an education reform – it will improve education sector in Ukraine in compliance with its international obligations and EU Member States practice.
To those who think otherwise we are ready to explain the logic and agree bilateral mechanisms. Without ultimatum, politicization and dictate.
We have adopted the pension reform – a key demand from the IMF.
We made a health care reform, including in rural areas – the greatest breakthrough ever in the sector.
In 2018, our priorities in reforms are no less ambitious – privatization, deregulation, improving investment climate, national bureau on financial security, tax on withdrawn capital, liberal legislation on currency, further improvement of tender legislation and energy sector, and legislation on national security. We never ever had such a package of reforms.
Yet, despite all these, I know that your focus is on the Anticorruption court.
This year we will launch the establishment of the Court, and my bill is under consideration in the Rada. For the sake of its successful adoption, I invite all to work constructively within democratic parliamentary procedures. Right after the first reading, there will be time to improve the draft in order to make this institution work as effectively as possible and in compliance with the Ukrainian Constitution, Ukrainian sovereignty and Ukrainian legislation.
This Court will become the last and decisive element of a new anti-corruption architecture in Ukraine.
At the same time, we are not only to develop an anti-corruption punitive system, but also to eliminate the basis for corruption. Over last years, we have rooted out a number of corrupt schemes that flourished for decades.
We got rid of multibillion corruption from gas relations with Russia, and Naftogaz turned from “a black hole” into one of the most transparent Ukrainian companies.
Thanks to ProZorro we improved the public procurement sector and save dozens of billions for budget.
The electronic VAT refund system, which we launched last year, has ended large-scale abuses in this area.
The policy of decentralisation has become an important tool to prevent corruption.
An extensive network of administrative services centres replaces direct contacts with officials.
We confidently hold leadership as regards our progress in data openness and demonstrate an unprecedented transparency.
All this could have been done before us. But it is us who did all this. I would like to thank the Ukrainian Government, the Prime Minister, the Ukrainian Parliament and the Speaker of the Parliament. And I would like to thank all our team for these achievements.
We will continue to eradicate the very roots of corruption. And we would wish that these efforts would be properly assessed by the Ukrainian and world community, and would inspire all of us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We should remember that Ukraine is a special place on the map of Europe.
It is here, in where the future of Europe is being decided.
In contrast to a century ago, we have everything available to stand our ground.
We uphold and defend the international law as our fundamental value.
We have built up strong, democratic, and united nation with growing economy and powerful and patriotic army.
And we enjoy unwavering unity and solidarity with you against aggression.
Ukraine is blessed of having you, esteemed ambassadors, among our partners, our allies and our friends.
I thank those who took Ukraine into heart.
I thank all those who stand by Ukraine in our struggle for peace, well-being, prosperity, and European future.
Thank you for your attention.
Glory to Ukraine!