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President Yushchenko’s speech on the Independence Day
Dear Ukrainian people!
Dear fellow citizens!
Dear people of Ukrainian descent all around the world!
I greet you with the 16th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.
Years will pass. Dozens and hundreds of years will pass, but on this day the triumph of our independence will always be celebrated. For this day is a sign of eternity.
Today in our State it is its people who are its main spokespersons, who are its creators.
The language of our people is straightforward, without slogans and passionate words.
From millions of our people’s everyday hopes, from the shores of the Crimea to the Carpathians arise the unified image of Ukraine.
This year we celebrate not only the 16th anniversary of our state but also the 90th anniversary of modern Ukrainian statehood.
Ours is a strong state, steely in spirit and rocklike. The dream about such a state and its image was heard for the first time in many centuries right here, at this very place, at this Sofiysky Maydan.
A strong state — it is what hundreds of generations were longing for. Those who went into battle and those who worked were building the state up through hard work in the economic and creative fields.
We are one single nation. It is a constant.
One can’t help noticing problems. Let’s not indulge in wishful thinking. But the historic truth is penetrating deeper and deeper into life — political views can be different, but the political nation and state are one for all.
It is high time one stopped looking at the state with “Lenten eyes.” It’s time to look at Ukraine with the eyes of the master.
The state has gotten established itself. In the past 16 years we have understood a lot. But a lot more must be done.
Life is going forward. The solidarity of the whole society which will increase with every joint success is in our palms. Failures have not stopped us until now, they will not stop us in the future.
It is in the great and yet quiet language, in the great and quiet character of our people that I see its exceptional force. Our Ukrainian history is our ideological foundation.
We are inheritors of Kyivan Rus.
We were builders of the Halytsko-Volynska state.
We are the people who created the Cossack republic on the ruins.
We are the people of strength and freedom.
Our history is a life-asserting mission which has been saved in spite of destruction.
One should not be weeping over history. One has to know history well and remember it well. One should see in it the indestructibility of the people and their high spirit.
Only a sovereign, strong and democratic state can be a guarantee of the Ukrainian nation, of the life of every dweller in this land.
The time has come to feel deeply the mighty spaciousness of Ukraine and to look at it “with the eye of an assiduous master.”
The Ukrainian space is we, all of us.
It is the people of Ukrainian descent in the world who strive for ties with our state and who want to be its coauthor.
Kyiv’s mission, Kyiv’s task is to be a centripetal force which will be bringing together the great Ukrainian sea — our people, our abilities, our values and our holy relics.
Here, so close to Sofiya [Holy Sophia Cathedral] in the heart of the capital I ask the Lord’s blessing for every citizen of Ukraine, for the nation, for all our state.
I ask [You, Lord] to remove from us the curse of discord, animosity and strife.
I ask [You, Lord] to give everyone the conscious feeling of responsibility for their country and for the common, unified life.
I believe and I am convinced that it will happen.
I am full of strength and determination to pursue the course of changes.
The state requires to be strengthened. The spiritual life expects to be given a true protection. People long for well-being and justice.
Back at the time of Cossacks — from Yosyp Vereshchynsky and Severin Nalyvayko to Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Ivan Mazepa and Pylyp Orlyk — the Cossacks reflected the profound democratic nature of Ukraine and devised a formula of governing – an enlightened republic as opposed to tyranny.
This thought will find its parallel in our modern life, too.
A strong, democratic state, a single people, a unified nation — such is the horizon of the joint effort.
I believe in a Ukraine in which the Ukrainian spirit reigns supreme, in which there is a distinct national character, in which there is one state language.
I also believe in a Ukraine where the sense of a nation is not limited only to ethnography and where the past is no more weighty than the present or the future.
Ukraine — it is a challenge. Ukraine – it is – it is a challenge turned into opportunities for all of us.
A strong state means effective and clear-cut management.
Chaos and lawlessness are evils that hamper and slow down our movement forward. Experiments have wedged politicians into a corner.
The feeling of impunity has created the fertile ground for all-devouring corruption. It destroys the basic precepts — the morality of the present-day generation and of generations to come.
This year’s early election to parliament is my clear response to the attack staged on Ukraine by corrupt politicians.
I know how to put order into our Ukrainian home.
We will start by a constitutional renewal.
I initiate the convening of a national constitutional council which will work out a new draft of the
This process is not a matter of one day but nobody will be able to procrastinate for too long. It also cannot be a hostage of the [September 30] election, as it is of a profound importance for each of us.
I firmly repeat what I said two months ago on Constitution Day: Our Basic Law [Constitution] will be approved in a nationwide Ukrainian referendum.
The Basic Law is an agreement on Ukraine’s future.
The key principle of our life — one law for all.
Our society wants to see a responsible state power which is exercised on the basis of a clear-cut division of responsibilities of the head of state who has been elected by the whole nation, parliament, government and bodies of local government.
We need effective instruments of accountability of politicians to the electorate.
Cancellation of immunity of [Verkhovna Rada] deputies, renewal of power and improvement of the constitution — these are the steps to be taken immediately and urgently.
They will help change, at last, the political culture in our country.
I have foiled attempts to remove the people from running their country. I shall defend this exclusive right of the people in the future, too.
Together we shall lay a solid foundation for strategic changes in our country.
I insist, categorically and consistently, on the carrying out of a new social policy in this country.
People must learn about the economic growth not from the words of government officials but experience it in their everyday life.
It is up to the state to support everyone who is in an actual need of help, and to create proper conditions for those who are unable to take care of themselves unaided and to provide well-being for their families.
My separate words of support concern millions of Ukrainians who work abroad. They have been forgotten about again. Their return [to Ukraine] will become one of the first indications of real changes in this country. We feel the lack of professionals and working hands in very many regions of Ukraine even today.
We urgently need a new humanitarian policy.
I emphatically reject any new attempts to impose upon this country an ideology of malorosiystva [from Maloros – “Little Russian” and Malorosiya – “Little Russia — pejorative terms once used in the Russian Empire as appellations for Ukrainians and Ukraine] and fostering foreign traditions.
We are a big, modern, world nation. We need a modern strategy of cultural renewal and cultural unity of our country. The essence of this strategy is pro-Ukrainian and pro-European, and it honors, undoubtedly, the needs of every representative of separate ethnic communities.
Ukraine has a great resource of national unity.
The nation demands that the government do qualitative and consolidated work. As Head of State, I, heeding the will of the people and for the people, shall satisfy this demand, regardless of the electoral passions, and in spite of political collisions.
Today Ukraine is living through a complex but, I am convinced, an extraordinarily important and interesting stage [of its development]. We shall go through it with dignity and steadfastly.
There is one main conclusion — the [pre-term parliamentary] election gives Ukraine a chance. After the election the political indeterminateness must become a thing of the past.
The internal life of the nation must enter the channel of measured, progressive and productive work.
Its achievements will give a new impetus to our international activities as well.
The aim of Ukraine is to be an influential and constructive participant of European and world life.
We have to widen the field of good-neighborly and regional policies, to get our borders conclusively delimitated, to further international processes of United Europe with concrete projects — from politics to energy consumption and production and culture.
Our choice, our partnership obligations, and our European priorities remain unchanged.
Casting an assessing eye on the road we have traveled and opening new horizons, I know that Ukraine will overcome any problems.
The state is growing. The state is strengthening.
As early as next year, the next anniversary of Ukraine’s independence should be marked with concrete results achieved through political, constitutional and social changes.
A strong, unshakable state. Democracy against usurpation of power and tyranny. Economic growth which will benefit every citizen. Accountability of politicians to the electorate. These are our key orientation points.