Ukraine: stop abusing the issues of language, religion and nationality.

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Aug 27 17:06:12 UTC 2006

President's speech on the 15th anniversary of Ukraine's independence

Victor Yushchenko addressed the nation in Kyivs Saint Sophia Square on
August 24 on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Ukraine's
independence. He wished Ukrainians a happy Independence Day, remembering
heroic periods of the countrys history. Societies that forget and
misunderstand their gains and victories have no future, he opined. Nations
that see their national path as a victory can become great and mighty. The
Ukrainian nation should learn lessons from its victories.

The Head of State enumerated Ukraines key achievements in the years of its
independence. He said we had brought up new citizens, built and
strengthened democracy, created foundations for major institutions of
power and society, achieved economic growth, and preserved the chosen
Euro-Atlantic course. The President named the formation of civil society
among Ukraines major accomplishments. Thus, he said, work in government is
a chance for political parties to show they deserve peoples support.
Yushchenko, however, urged the countrys opposition to properly analyze the
performance of government and propose alternatives. As Head of State, I
appeal on behalf of society to those who are given powers and obligations.
Power is not a privilege but responsibility. Each minister and each
official will bear that responsibility. Society and law have been
overseeing the government since it was appointed, he said.

The President spelled out challenges facing the Ukrainian government,
saying society wanted to live better. The program of the new government
should correlate with the nations economic priorities. There should be no
discussions about it. The choice made by the people in the December of
2004 ended all the discussions, he said. He ordered the government to pay
off salary debts at economically active enterprises by the end of 2006 and
also demanded they build an innovative knowledge-based economy.

Yushchenko insisted it was vital to reform the countrys judicial system to
achieve equality. The Head of State said he would submit anti-corruption
legislations to the Verkhovna Rada when it held its first session in the
autumn. I believe MPs will forget their party interests and support these
documents, he said. Then he reiterated that the country must materialize
its unity slogan. We should live according to one cultural time; we should
hear and see one another; we should be sure each centimeter of Ukraines
territory is protected, he said.

The President emphasized Ukraine would not change its foreign policy and
expressed hope the goal to join the European Union and NATO would be
achieved. He urged politicians to stop abusing the issues of language,
religion and nationality. The principle of this country is simple:
Ukrainian citizens are free to make choices. But Ukrainian politicians and
officials should perform their duties and thus know, speak and live with
the state language, he said.

Yushchenko announced he would continue to hold national roundtables and
said he hoped the Verkhovna Rada would soon recognize the 1932-33 man-made
famine as genocide. He also asked the government to build a memorial to
honor the victims of the tragedy on its 75th anniversary.

The President said he dreamed of creating a single Ukrainian Orthodox
Church, which will have its place at the table of other churches and


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