Dear Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2017!
My apologies for the delay.
I just finished my trilateral phone conversations with Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande.
We discussed Donbas, the Minsk process, Russia, and relations with the EU.
You are the first with whom I share this information.
With our good friends and partners, who had been standing by us throughout the past year.
2016 was the year when the main trends of our development were positive.
2016 was the year when we got to see the first shoots from the seeds of reforms, sown in previous two years.
2016 was the year that made Ukraine stronger as the beacon of the United Europe and beyond in the fight against Russian hybrid poison and military aggression.
It was very important that in 2016 we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the free world.
We were thinking not so much in terms of challenges but in terms of opportunities.
That way, Ukraine as one of the largest countries of Europe shall become its largest space for growth.
Because a democratic Ukraine means the expansion of the frontiers of freedom.
A stable Ukraine means strong defence of Europe’s Eastern borders.
A prosperous Ukraine means economic growth of the entire continent.
We set clear priorities:
- strengthening the rule of law by stepping up the fight against corruption;
- restoring confidence in justice through judicial reform;
- dynamic growth of economy thanks to macroeconomic and financial predictability, infrastructure development, investment and privatization;
- further strengthening of energy security of Ukraine and making Ukrainian gas transportation system a part of the Energy Union;
- beefing up defense capabilities by upgrading Ukrainian army based on professionalism, military-technical and defense cooperation with our partners.
This is our goal.
This is our ambition.
This is our compass for 2017.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is our third New Year meeting after Russia began its aggression against Ukraine.
We are all witnessing an attempt of present-day Russia to erect a new iron curtain.
The Kremlin tries to abuse growing uncertainty by offering to the world its own, “alternative” agenda, by proposing its “alternative” Europe.
And this “alternative” looks very little like a genuine Europe.
We may not forget about hundreds of Russian tanks, thousands of Russian troops and the continued warfare disregarding Ukraine’s demand for ceasefire.
We may not forget about arrogant disrespect for international law and the corner-stone principles of the post-war order, which had been preserving peace in our part of the world.
We are talking about Russia’s undeclared revisionism, its efforts to undermine the fundamentals of Western democracy.
We are talking about the hybrid war whose “soldiers” are not just the military, tanks or missiles, but also corruption, terrorists, phony journalists, hackers and the absolute deception.
Kremlin started by Ukraine, yet today its aggression is becoming of global dimension for him.
Russia’s goal is to spread fear, uncertainty and distrust in our societies.
It abuses the freedoms of liberal democracy for its totalitarian purposes.
Moscow wants to manipulate the right of Europeans to make their free electoral choice, in the same way as it tried to obstruct the Ukrainians’ European choice three years ago.
Yet many seek to comprehend and even justify Russia’s actions or suggest taking into account so-called Kremlin’s interests.
Some believe that appeasement and reconciliation could be more appropriate tools to normalize relations with Russia.
But, it would mean “reconciliation with evil”.
It would lead to more tragic consequences.
What we get in return is well-known.
The aggressor’s appetite would only be inflamed.
Those who disbelieve should google the word “Munich”.
Ukrainians shall never accept any proposals to agree about us over our heads.
I do not want to overestimate such a threat, nor may I pretend that it does not exist. Because we hear such proposals from time to time.
Our national identity, independence, territorial integrity, European and Euro-Atlantic choice may not be questioned, nor be a subject for any debate or compromise.
We shall stand firmly on that, no matter the price.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is pretty clear that 2017 shall become a year of responses to systemic challenges.
We are all responsible for how the world, united Europe, and our future will look like.
Today more than ever there is a high risk of destroying all achievements of post-war cooperation and so regressing many decades.
This is what may always happen when one loses the respect for our principles and values, and for the international law.
Now, as never before, this is all about our ability to recognize and defend our values and interests.
Now, as never before, it is important to remember that respect for international law has been a driver of democratic modernization, economic prosperity and peace in Europe and across the world.
Now, as never before, we must remember that our commitment to common values is what made the European project successful.
As well as remember the fact that Ukrainians shall never renounce their land, nor trade their freedom.
Therefore, as long as even a yard of our territory is under Russian occupation, all our achievements, both in and outside of Ukraine, will stay jeopardized.
I strongly disagree with pessimistic and sometimes even panicky mood about the future of the European Union, imposed on Europeans by Russian propagandists.
The European project is much more resilient and durable than the Kremlin could ever imagine.
The values that lie at the heart of this project, and its institutional capacity exceed by far the phobias used to intimidate Europeans.
Ukrainians’ belief in the European project and its values is stronger than it is in the Europe’s core.
Despite one’s wishful thinking, we have no plans to give up on the European track.
Ukraine remains committed to the Minsk agreements and their full implementation.
First and foremost, by the Kremlin and its mercenaries on the Ukrainian soil.
Above all – on security matters.
In 2016, Ukraine and its partners persuaded Russia that the only effective solution should be the Roadmap of interrelated steps on security and political issues.
I hope that in 2017 we shall finally seal this approach on paper and turn to real steps in the settlement process.
That is why it is crucial to preserve our unity and solidarity, as well as to keep the sanctions pressure upon Kremlin.
Sanctions must remain in place until Russia’s full implementation of the Minsk agreements and full restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including in Crimea.
I am grateful to our partners in the UN General Assembly who voted in 2016 on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, recognizing Russia’s status as the occupying power and aggressor.
From now on, this UN GA Resolution will guide us all in the protection of human rights in Crimea and ultimately leading to its de-occupation.
I would like to be very clear here: we shall not abandon our citizens in Crimea, which has been turned into a militarized peninsular of no freedom and a concentration camp for Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
We shall not leave our people behind a new iron curtain of the Russian occupation.
As from today, we open a new international legal frontline against Russia as a state that supports terrorism and discriminates Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian population in the occupied Crimea.
Price for Russia for its brutal violation of norms and principles of the international law shall keep increasing.
Upon my instructions, earlier today the Foreign Ministry has officially filed a claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in order to defend the rights and legal interests of the people of Ukraine and to reimburse the damage, cast by Moscow’s unlawful acts.
We shall use all other available options, including our voice in the UN Security Council, to be chaired by Ukraine in February.
The world must give an adequate response to hybrid aggression, violation of human rights, and confirm the credibility of the UN for the benefit of all nations.
We hope to rely further on active stance of global pro-Ukrainian coalition, as we shall be proceeding with vital democratic reforms.
In 2016, we have once again relied on the firm shoulder of the European Union and its Member States, with Lithuania and Poland leading the way.
The EU has indeed become the guarantor of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.
In this regard, I would like to highlight the special leadership of Germany and France, both in the Normandy format and within the EU.
Thanks to our joint efforts, in 2016 we managed to find a formula to clear the way for the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association agreement.
In 2017, we have to close this issue once and for all.
First, we have to make the Agreement a legal fait accompli.
Second, Ukrainians must be finally granted visa-free travel to the EU.
Both issues have been fine-tuned, all obligations fulfilled, all criteria met.
Further delay is blatantly unfair, as Ukrainians paid a very high price.
Further delay would also be dangerous, since it would undermine Ukrainians’ trust in Europe. This is exactly what Russia wants.
Besides, the Association Agreement and visa-free travel with the EU have long ago become integral elements of our strategy for returning Donbas and Crimea.
Another important part of this strategy is deployment of an armed OSCE police mission to Donbas.
I hope that this year the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship will make efforts to give a new impetus to this endeavor.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s distinctive partnership with NATO. Our main task today is to accumulate practical experience, with particular emphasis on situational awareness and interoperability, NATO trust funds, and cooperation in cybersecurity.
My words of deep appreciation go to the United States of America. 2016 was a year of high dynamics in our contacts and cooperation on the basis of sustainable bipartisan support of Ukraine in the US.
I was glad to hear that personally in my telephone conversation with the US President-elect Donald Trump just a few days after the Election Day.
In a very short while, when the new Administration enters the White House, we hope to see the enhanced American leadership in the world, as well as adherence to previously undertaken commitments.
For Ukraine as a key US partner and ally in Eastern Europe, it would be particularly important to know.
We appreciate tireless efforts of Japan, which kept Ukraine’s issue on the agenda of the G7 throughout the past year. We expect that in the course of 2017, the Italian Presidency will continue to keep Ukraine in the G7 focus.
Our strategic partnership with Turkey and Azerbaijan shall remain firm and mutually beneficial.
Our cooperation with Canada will shine with new bright colors, due to the launch of the free trade area.
We shall develop further our strategic partnership with China based on mutual respect and benefit.
My visits in 2016 to Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia brought geographically remote Asia much closer to us politically, economically and culturally. We intend to deepen mutually beneficial relations with other countries of this region.
I want to confirm genuine interest of Ukraine in unleashing potential of bilateral relations with the Middle East and Latin America. I look forward to my visits to both of these regions in the course of this year.
I hope that 2017 will bear new fruit in our cooperation with Israel, especially after we proved the maturity of our partnership during joint commemoration of 75th anniversary of Babyn Yar tragedy.
Likewise, we are interested in expanding relations with the African continent, including Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco.
At this pivotal phase of Ukraine’s political and economic development, a friendly shoulder of international financial institutions will remain an important element for ensuring sustainability and effectiveness of the reform process.
I appreciate the financial support by the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD, with the strong leadership of the United States.
This support helped us to stabilize macroeconomic situation in 2016.
It added to the confidence of potential investors in launching new projects in Ukraine in 2017.
I am sure that the launch of the National Investment Council under the President of Ukraine will consolidate this positive trend.
I believe that anything “made in Ukraine” or “made for Ukraine” should have no geographical borders or limits.
I also believe that together, by our joint efforts and ambitious solutions we shall be able to consolidate existing achievements and unleash new potential for our cooperation.
To conclude, I wish to express my most sincere appreciation to all our friends.
To those who support us.
To those who remember that Good is Good, and Evil is Evil.
To those who possess this moral compass inside of them.
There is no way and no future without it.
In the New Year, I would like to wish all of you – authorities and peoples of your countries – to keep strong hold of that moral compass for the sake of peace, security and prosperity.
Thank you for your attention!
Glory to Ukraine!