Dear Mr. Federal Councillor,
Dear Ukrainians who came here to support me and support Ukraine,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very much honored to speak at this truly historic place.
These walls have witnessed so many landmark events, and so many prominent figures have expressed their ideas bound to change the world for better.
It was here at this university shortly after the World War Two, when the European continent was still lying in ruins, when Sir Winston Churchill called for the creation of a united Europe.
His urge then was: “We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living”.
I am convinced that a “life worth living” is evident when I look into the eyes of my children. These should be eyes without fear. In a democracy that respects freedom of speech and expression. In a democracy which respects human dignity.
The European Union has become a success story for the 28 nations and for over 500 millions of people, advanced with the highest level of political freedoms and economic standards.
In the wake of the cruelest war in human history, Churchill’s dream of a united Europe sounded both idealistic and even naïve. Now, in the 21st century, Churchill’s idealism has morphed into reality.
But, after almost 70 years of the flourishing European project, the new global challenges have appeared calling on the European leaders to seek further ways to ensure growth and security as well as the inviolability of the democratic liberties.
Europe needs a new impulse.
The whole of Europe is again under attack. The continent’s ideals of liberty and democracy are being directly challenged.
The European Union, unlike Switzerland, cannot rely on its geographical endowments and its unique security model, but it should look beyond its current borders to enhance its security.
Today the threats faced by Europe are similar to those that are now struggled against in Ukraine. My country wages a war against terrorism. It fights at the forefront for the European values such as freedom, sovereignty and democracy.
Ukraine should become a full-fledged member of the European family of nations, while already being its indivisible historic, spiritual and intellectual part. Already being its guard and a new symbol.
Europe, within the EU and beyond, should become absolutely firm and united when it gets to principles that were historically shaped and employed by generations of Europeans.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One may ask why Ukraine as the member would be more beneficial to the EU, reliable and predictable?
Not even being EU citizens, the Ukrainians stood up against the bullets in defense of the core European values
What started as a student movement quickly involved all of Ukraine’s generations, who stood up to defend their children. The faces of those who died for their country, still line the streets of downtown Kyiv. Their pictures prove that they hailed from every generation, every social class, and every region of the country.
We Ukrainians call them the Heavenly Hundred, and they died defending not only their country but also for the values on which Europe is built: freedom, dignity, rule of law.
Ukraine has proven its democratic commitment, should not be kept on sidelines of Europe.
In efficiency and innovation-led sustainable economies, it is no longer about the production factors: steel, coal or gas, but about the people with the potential, skills and vision alike.
This goes beyond the wider common market opportunities. It is also about a single space based on the common values, a consolidated community capable to efficiently interact to address the current challenges.
Tolerance, empathy and support demonstrated by the Ukrainian people, sometimes speaking different languages and even practicing different religions, can serve a good example for Europe in a face of its current challenges.
Hundred thousands displaced persons who fled from the Russian occupied Crimea and the war-torn regions of Donbas have found a hospitable shelter and support in Central and Western parts of Ukraine. They believe in our country.
Ukrainian men do not escape the country but go to Donbas to fight to win peace. A modern and capable Ukrainian army has emerged in a year of war. Ukrainian soldiers demonstrate impressive combat spirit, professional skills and legendary heroism. In the international Donetsk airport, our soldiers withstood a siege for eight months earning a fame as cyborgs. Alongside the soldiers serve hundreds of brave volunteers that under the hail of shells and gunfire procure our army, deliver medical and humanitarian aid.
Churchill called for Europe to arise to set peace and prosperity in these walls on the 19th September 1946. It was also on the 19th September last year when we have finalized Minsk agreements to cease the bloodshed in Donbas and launch the peace process based on my Peace Plan.
I have embarked on my presidency as the President of Peace. With Minsk arrangements I have declared the cease-fire and began to implement all points, without an exception, signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the terrorists.
I laid hopes that other sides will adhere to their commitments and we will restore peace. The OSCE and other international partners can confirm that Ukraine upholds the Minsk agreements. Unfortunately, the other side does not.
The constant violation of the cease-fire regime has taken away more than 230 Ukrainian soldiers and 148 civilians since the cease-fire was called in September.
Despite the truce, the Russian equipped, trained and supplied mercenaries continue to wage the war against the Ukrainian armed forces shelling the residential areas and killing civilians.
Each day over the past year has been a trauma for the Ukrainian people. On the June 8, militants of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic tortured and killed 8 priests and parishioners of the Protestant Church in the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk. On July 17, a Russian missile brought down Malaysian MH17 flight aircraft in the sky over Donbas, killing 298 innocent people from 17 countries. On January 13, terrorists fired at a passenger bus near the Ukrainian town of Volnovakha despite the declared ceasefire, killing 13 and wounding 15 Ukrainian civilians.
MH17 and Volnovakha bus passengers, parishioners of the Protestant Church, Charlie Hebdo's and Paris kosher store victims of religious fanatics – they all come from different countries, but have fallen in one war of terror. Terrorism knows no borders. The world has to react to these atrocities jointly and decisively. And I am proud to be in one line with leaders of more than 50 countries on the street of Paris with a sign "Je suis Charlie" and "We are not afraid". We are not afraid of terrorists, because we are united and strong.
Mr. Federal Councilor,
As OSCE Chairman in Office, you have made a significant contribution to facilitating the peaceful settlement. We appreciate these efforts.
Yet, I believe that the democratic world must further consolidate its joint and resolute response to aggression against Ukraine and violation of the international law by Russia.
The efficiency of this response will, in fact, affect the future path of Ukraine.
I believe and, it is internationally acknowledged, that the only way to de-escalate the conflict is to implement the Minsk agreements in their entirety and in good faith.
If there is no resolution, Ukraine will have to continue paying a too high price of human lives, enormous spending on the defense, rather than on reforms.
Basically, this is exactly what the aggressor aspires to.
To stop the reforms.
To prevent Ukraine from transforming into a modern European democratic state.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nevertheless, realizing the need for a comprehensive transformation, Ukraine has embarked on a series of reforms. Our vision for the next five years is summarized in the Strategy of Sustainable Development 2020.
It is a roadmap for reforms in response to demands of the Ukrainian people expressed on Maidan Square in Kyiv and throughout the country.
Moreover, these reforms are the only path for Ukraine now not only to develop but also to survive.
Because we aspire to reach European standards by that time and apply for a membership in the European Union in 2020.
I believe that the Ukrainian people deserve to be a part of Churchill’s vision of a glorious and united Europe.
And so, I gave this solemn promise of the complete transformation of the country both to the Ukrainian people and to our friends in Europe.
I believe we have the means to achieve our aspirations. The current Ukrainian government is the first in our history to have such a determined outlook. And have already taken steps to reach them.
First, Ukraine will be democratic and free and it will effectively and fully exercise its sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.
We are determined to accomplish a bulk of reforms in 5 years.
We plan to achieve a ranking in the Top-30 in the World Bank's Doing Business and Top-50 under the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
We aim to significantly increase GDP per capita, net foreign direct investment inflow and strengthen the national security and defense sector.
We plan to increase life expectancy by 3 years in Ukraine.
75 percents of school graduates will have mastered 2 foreign languages.
It is an ambitious plan, but also attainable.
We have already begun reforming public institutions by shrinking their number but improving their efficiency.
Currently, Ukraine is among countries subject to the largest amount of lawsuits within the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, we aspire to enhance the rule of law, ensure the efficiency of the Ukrainian judiciary and rebuild trust in the Ukrainian legal system. This was one of the key demands of our revolution.
This also goes for law-enforcement. We have initiated a reform of law enforcement agencies to increase citizens’ trust in the institution, and to believe that they can seek justice.
Our most epic battle will be against corruption. Without eradicating deeply rooted corruption from our state and society, all other efforts will be in vain. The first anti-corruption package is already being implemented.
We established the National Anti-Corruption Bureau as the first step towards ensuring transparent and responsible activities within the public sector.
The Government strongly supports improving conditions for doing business in Ukraine. We are cutting a number of inspections and required licenses. We are changing the tax system and deregulating to improve the business climate.
Ukraine is bound to develop into a dynamic, competitive, innovative export-oriented economy fully integrated into the EU.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Ukraine and the EU pushes us to accelerate the legislative and regulatory harmonization.
There have been many opinions on likely advantages and disadvantages of DCFTA. I will say frankly: it will be challenging. However, it is a choice for the future. It means trust and civilized rules of doing business. DCFTA means a better investment climate. It is about coming into one of the largest markets of the world and reaching out to the third countries.
Ukraine will do its best to capitalize on both old and new markets. We will try to strengthen our presence in Europe and support businesses going elsewhere.
We will enhance our energy security and independence. To this end, we will continue working towards the full implementation of the Third Energy package to establish a reliable and cost-effective energy market, modernizing our energy sector and seeking innovative solutions for the diversification of energy supply sources and routes.
The first steps have been already done.
We have established solid reverse gas flows from other countries to Ukraine. I would like to express my gratitude to our partners for their solidarity.
We have invited investors from the US and EU to participate in the modernization of the Ukrainian gas transportation system and are working on improving the attractiveness of energy sector investments.
Ukraine can largely contribute as an additional element of the European energy security with its transit infrastructure and unique underground gas storages of 31 billion cubic meters.
We have approved a plan to reduce natural gas consumption by 2017 through improved energy efficiency.
Our final goal is to become a full-fledged member of the European energy market.
Ukraine strives to implement modern standards of environmental protection. I strongly believe that quality of life depends on ecological security.
Ukraine has always been known as the “breadbasket of Europe”, as our country offers large untapped potential for green and organic products.
I intend to open Ukraine to the world. We will fully integrate in the global scientific, education and cultural space and develop respective people-to-people contacts.
A visa-free regime with the EU is one of Ukraine’s top priorities in 2015. I expect that the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit on May 21-22 will become a real milestone in the visa liberalization track.
In ten or twenty years from now, does Europe see itself strong enough to address the growing challenges?
In the coming decades does it also feel being fully ready to counterweight in growth and productivity the other global powers. Wouldn’t it be stronger with the Ukrainian human and economic potential? It should be clear that Ukraine’s natural gravitation towards the EU is not targeted against Russia or aimed to undermine its growth.
In this discourse, for centuries Ukraine was preferred to stay in a grey or rather buffer zone, to maintain the fragile post-Cold war balance.
I may give you a bit of a shock by assuming that one day a Ukraine that is no longer a part of the buffer zone but a full-fledged EU member, will push Russia to undergo the democratic and structural economic changes and gravitate towards the Western world.
While kept in a buffer zone, Ukraine appears to provoke Russia to maintain its internal political status-quo and confront the European values.
We must give impetus for such transformations in Russia by admitting Ukraine into the European family of nations. Even if Russia does not become the European member, this eventual process will trigger wider democratization to Belarus and promote security for Moldova, Georgia and beyond.
I wish we could still benefit from Sir Winston Churchill’s wisdom to predict for the decades and to engage all countries to discard old grievances, “hatreds and revenges” for a better future of the peoples, to seek “happiness, prosperity and glory” for Europe.
Russia’s hybrid war pose a direct threat to a European community built on common values.
The initiators of this conflict cynically believe that Europe cannot and will not act as one, refusing to stand up for its values in the face of a direct challenge.
But I, like many before me, have a dream. I have a conviction. That if Europe stands together with Ukraine, Europe is invincible.
That no matter how many difficulties might lie ahead, if Europe stands together with Ukraine on the defense of freedom, dignity, democracy and life without fear, then the future of Europe will be safe and bright.
After the shocking week of the tragic events in France and terrifying terrorist strike against a bus with civilians near Volnovakha in Ukraine, all Europe must unite around two simple ideas:
Only together democratic nations can stand up for the freedom of present and future generations of humankind to live without fear, without threat of terrorism and build brighter future.
Values are not for sale and we must do what it takes to defend them.