SPEECH OF CHAIRPERSON OF THE VERKHOVNA RADA OF UKRAINE VOLODYMYR GROYSMAN at the meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (February 24, 2015, Brussels)
24 February 2015 14:42



Dear Mr. Chairman, dear deputies of the European Parliament!

This speech is very symbolic for me.

On this day last year, after victory of the Revolution of Dignity and shameful escape of the then-president, the European Union and the European Parliament recognized the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as the only legitimate authority.

Over the year, the system of the government was restored in Ukraine, new Verkhovna Rada was elected, and the Association Agreement was signed.

Today, in the course of my first foreign visit as the Chairperson of the Ukrainian Parliament, we, together with President Schulz, are opening the inaugural meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for Association – an important instrument of practical implementation of the historic Agreement.  

Ukraine is facing two key challenges:

first one - protection of joint values of freedom and democracy, stopping external aggression, preserving territorial integrity and sovereignty, and establishing peace on our troubled land;

second one - we need to efficiently reform the country, transfer a post-Soviet republic into a modern, successful European country.

I will start with the second one.

Conducting war and reforms at the same time is not easy. However, we do not have other choice, since the window of possibilities is limited in time.

First of all, we have jointly elaborated a strategy for reforms. Its key elements are:

Strategy for state development until 2020;

Plan of implementing the Association Agreement with the European Union;

Coalition agreement of the parliamentary majority.

On the basis of these documents I, with my colleagues-deputies of the Ukrainian Parliament, initiated an inclusive process of elaborating the plan for legislative insurance of reforms for 2015-2017.

Next week, I will present this Plan in Kyiv, and we will submit it for elaboration to all stakeholders – the Government and the President of Ukraine.

What has already been done?

Thanks to coordinated work of the Parliament, Government and President of Ukraine, we have started implementation of the anti-corruption package of laws, adopted in October last year, and adopted several laws on ensuring activity of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. It is no secret that the fight against corruption is one of Ukraine's priorities. We have to end this once and for all. 

Soon, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau will receive its first chairperson.

We have started reforming the law-enforcement bodies. This process will be conducted together with the EU Advisory Mission.

First steps on reforming the judicial system have been made; particularly, the law on fair trial was adopted.

Several laws aimed at increasing defence capacity of Ukraine were adopted. 

The work on reforming decentralization is still carried out.

I believe that this reform is one of the priority reforms for Ukraine. Its aim is to build a quality and efficient system of governance in the country.

Decisions on budget decentralization were made; laws on the foundations of state regional policy and on voluntary uniting of communities were adopted.

Obviously, success of decentralization and of most of key reforms depends on improving the Basic Law of Ukraine.

In connection with this, the President of Ukraine initiated establishment of a commission, including scientists, experts and public representatives, which will elaborate amendments to the Constitution.

According to current procedures of amendments to the Constitution, we have a chance to finally adopt a respective law at the beginning of September. In this process, it is mandatory to take into consideration the conclusions of the Venice Commission.

I want to stress that we have started preparation for constitutional reform and decentralization long before the Minsk process.

I assure you that authorities which regions will receive as a result of these reforms will satisfy everyone who wants changes. This is a joint position of the Ukrainian Parliament.

The only this excluded from the decentralization reform is the right of the regions to have their own tanks, multiple launch rocket systems, and the right to accede to Eurasian unions.

Dear members of the European Parliament!

I strongly believe that reformatory and economic success of Ukraine is the most efficient sanction against Russian policy.

Our success in strengthening our sovereignty is the main instrument against Russian informational war.

One of the key priorities for Ukraine is restoring Ukrainian economy which is impossible without consolidated international assistance.

In connection with this, we hope for an efficient discussion in the European Parliament of a suggestion of the European Commission on providing Ukraine with the Third Program of Macro Financial Assistance.

Russia, as the country which under the Budapest memorandum was obliged to "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine", continues its aggression against us.  

Despite the Minsk agreements, Ukrainians are still dying, and Russian rockets are still multiplying grief in Ukrainian families in all Oblasts of our country.

At the same time, the number of internally displaced persons is increasing; now it is over a million persons. We highly appreciate that on the initiative of the European Parliament (January resolution of the European Parliament), the European Commission started elaborating an ambitious plan on providing Ukraine with humanitarian assistance.

Unfortunately, Russia keeps supporting terrorism.

Last week's events in Debaltsevo showed cunning of the Russian Federation. When Kremlin's plan to seize the town by the ceasefire of February 15 had not been realized, terrorists neglected the Minsk agreements and continued an attack, turning the town and its citizens into ashes.

Last week, the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine adopted a decision to address the UNO and the EU with a proposal to deploy a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine. A respective European Union Mission would be a perfect option.

We see this mission as efficient if it is located on the contact line and on that border line with Russia which is not controlled by Ukraine now.

At the same time, this initiative caused resistance on the part of Russia and terrorists who accused Kyiv of "violating the Minsk agreements".

Why? I believe that closing a common border and its monitoring by the OSCE or peacekeepers will again show presence of Russian military men and make Russia get out of Ukraine's territory without any chances of returning and supplying terrorists with weapons and equipment. 

Up till today, Ukrainian citizens, including our colleague, people's deputy of Ukraine, PACE member Nadiia Savchenko who has been starving for 74 days, are illegally kept on the territory of Russia!

I am grateful to deputies of the European Parliament for their active stand and initiatives aimed at her liberation and I urge you not to stop. 

Dear friends!

I want to emphasize to the European Parliament a clear stand of Ukraine – our country does not see an alternative to a peaceful settlement of the situation.

However, settlement of this dangerous European crisis depends on the Russian Party, which has already wasted several chances to prove its commitment to peace not by words but by real actions.

We need powerful motivational measures to engage Russia in a real dialogue:

firstly, preserving the current sanction regime and strengthening sectoral restricting measures,

secondly, applying constant diplomatic and political pressure on the Kremlin. I may not like the word "pressure", but we have to do everything to stop the aggressor and the killings, 

and finally, providing Ukraine with comprehensive assistance and constructive support.

Increasing defence capacity and providing Ukraine with "reasonable defensive weapons" in order to defend itself from the Russian aggression is a burning issue.

Only under this condition the Kremlin will realize Ukraine's ability to efficiently counteract the Russian aggression. I hope the European Parliament will uphold this approach.

I also urge you not to forget about the problem with Crimea. It will soon be a year since the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. A year of economic degradation and abuse of Ukrainian and Crimean-Tatar people.

Ukraine would be interested in a comprehensive consideration of this daring case of seizing the territory of a neighbouring country at the March session of the European Parliament with adopting of a respective resolution. 

Dear colleagues!

In conclusion, I would like to urge the European Parliament to further draw attention to Ukraine. 

You stimulate the EU to a more decisive and efficient support of Ukraine.

You form European public opinion and counteract one more kind of aggression – the Russian propaganda.

We hope that before the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, which will be held in May, European and national parliaments of EU member-states will be able to encourage the European Council to political signals that the Ukrainian society is looking forward to.

I mean recognition of our country's European prospect and a political decision on introducing visa-free regime for short term trips of Ukrainian citizens.

Ukrainians deserve this, because last year, during the Revolution of Dignity and today they are on the forefront of the fight for ideals of European integration and European values.

Thank you for your attention

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