Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for being here. It is my great pleasure to welcome you in Kyiv, the ancient capital of Ukraine.
As this conference aims to mobilize and increase support for Ukraine, your presence here is highly appreciated – both by me and the entire country.
Your solidarity is key to resolving its present difficulties, as well as to its future, which we see as a fully integrated, economically vibrant, and productive member of the European family of nations, as President Juncker stated yesterday.
Our discussion at yesterday’s EU-Ukraine Summit leaves no doubt that Ukraine continues to move along a European track.
I would like to especially praise the efforts of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has joined us for this conference today.
Every day is a fight on two fronts for my nation – one, is the struggle to preserve its freedom, independence and territorial integrity; the other, is the fight to survive economically, root out corruption and carry out comprehensive, and, even very painful reforms to make a new, revitalized, forward-looking Ukraine a reality.
This is all about turning Ukraine into a fair and free democracy and a civil society that functions according to the rule of law – a body of legislation inspired by European values and the European traditions of law, morality, and thought.
And, of course, it is also about this new Ukraine that is not afraid to throw all of its broken levers and rusted gears onto the pile of old history.
Here I would like to quote U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, a great statesman who led his nation to overcome the Great Depression, led his country to victory in World War 2, and launched the Marshall Plan for Europe.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with these words. He spoke them in 1933, when he was elected President for the first time, and when the United States of America was in the middle of what was perhaps the greatest economic crisis in its history.
In addressing the American people, Roosevelt said:
“This is the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. We should not shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, and will prosper.
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that:
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”
As the President of Ukraine, I strongly feel these words are very relevant to my country today.
The Ukrainian people have proven that they have no fear on both fronts - on our front in the East and on our front for providing reforms! And today, we also call on the world to be decisive and to stand by Ukraine!
When Crimea was annexed in a blatant violation of international law and Russian troops crossed this sovereign nation’s borders, probably no one could have imagined that Ukraine would be able to rise to the situation, reinvent its army and mobilize society, to give a strong response to the enemy.
It was no less of a surprise for many that Europe became so united and the Transatlantic community so consolidated.
It was again reasserted that values come first and that democracy and freedom are the cornerstones of Western civilization, which are fundamental for its prosperity and growth.
Today, Ukraine needs Europe and West to stay united, the same united as it was in Minsk.
With your help and unity, a peaceful resolution of the situation in Donbas will be reached. The Minsk Agreements achieved with the great, coordinated and determined efforts of our partners must be implemented in full.
We are still under a threat of war. Every single moment the war can be started. But we are determined to make a breakthrough. There is no excuse for hesitation, or reluctance to move toward this goal.
Ukraine’s political transformation since the Revolution of Dignity has given birth to new grassroots leadership that is calling for and driving positive changes. De-oligarchization, de-monopolization, deregulation and decentralization, as well as the fight against corruption are the main avenues for our reforms.
Like no one else, we are interested in seeing the results of these reforms as soon as possible. But the reforms couldn’t have been launched with the old parliament, formed by the autocratic and kleptocratic regime of Yanukovych.
We managed to adhere to the highest democratic standards to dissolve the old parliament and elect a new pro-European parliament to drive changes in this country. The elections, free and fair, the most free and fair in our history, formation of the Coalition and the Government, in fact, have become our first sound reform.
From these fresh democratic roots a framework for sustainable development was created in Ukraine’s Strategic Vision – 2020. Ukraine’s Government Program for 2015 incorporates both the Strategic Vision – 2020 and the reforms agenda, and both are reflected in the governing Coalition Agreement.
All three documents are built around the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Agenda and are aligned with commitments under agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Cooperation between all stakeholders of the reform process is key, which made the work within the triangle of President, Government and Parliament tuned to ensure synergies.
The National Reforms Council (NRC) was established under my leadership to drive the discussion and coordinate the reforms across the three branches of power with input, very strong input from civil society. With support of EU Delegation in Ukraine we have developed the Reforms Monitoring Framework, to assist NRC to track and coordinate reforms.
We have created an efficient reforms team. I am proud that the government consists of many reform-oriented professionals, with top international educations and great achievements, who are driven to implement the best world standards in Ukraine. Citizens of Lithuania, the United States, and Georgia were granted Ukrainian passports and now share our responsibility for the reforms.
Just a few days ago, I signed a decree on appointing former Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda as my advisor.
This team believes in our country and their work today inspires the world to believe in Ukraine.
Combating corruption was set as, and remains, our absolutely top priority.
The newly established National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which was designed according to the best international standards, has been launched. The bureau’s work is in large part geared toward restoring confidence in Ukraine.
Constitutional reform, including decentralization, reforms in the judiciary and civil service, transparency of public procurement procedures, changes to the Tax Code, measures to restore trust in the Ukrainian banking sector, and energy efficiency policies are all in the process of being delivered for the sake of Ukraine’s international credibility and for the benefit of the nation and its people.
We are also revising lists of state-owned enterprises set for extensive privatization, most of them this year.
The essence of this process is very simple. We do not prepare for a revision of previous privatizations, despite the demands of society. We do not.
We are destroying the monopoly of a small group of crony businesses, and alienating them from their usual rent-seeking practices.
We seek to introduce new rules of the game. This will still allow growth for large businesses but will reset them for adding value, creating jobs and boosting competitiveness.
The recent tender held for 3G frequencies attracted almost 400 million US dollars, which tells a completely new story of an investor dealing with a state.
Ukraine needs investments to build on and develop its immense potential; potential which has for so long been neglected or held hostage to special and monopoly interests.
We need investments to restore our economy and launch sustainable growth; growth that will not only develop and modernize Ukraine, but will also be profitable for Ukraine’s investors.
There should be no doubt that you – together with every Ukrainian who has the desire and ability – can do business in Ukraine!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, Ukraine is one of the most promising places in the world, and we need your advice, your investments, and your encouragement.
One might argue that today there are safer havens for investment than Ukraine. However, I am absolutely certain that there is no place in the world with Ukraine’s potential, which still remains untapped, unused, and unexplored.
Ukraine offers tremendous opportunities in agriculture, IT, energy, aviation and space technology. Ukraine is among the top 10 in IT research and development outsourcing in the world.
In assessing Ukraine’s investment potential, it is important to not exaggerate the risks in terms of security.
Talking from my past business experience, I am fully aware of the conditions that must be in place, and that must prevail, to secure investment in my country today.
And if I were to make a decision to invest or not to invest in Ukraine, most importantly, I would do so from the perspective of assessing the potential for business and economic growth based on the pace of changes in the country.
Believing that positive changes will prevail, I would then take stock of how my business could benefit from the country’s highly skilled human capital, the country’s potential for innovation and competitive sectors of the economy.
And as politician I am fully convinced that supporting Ukraine today you will also investing in Europe and in European security tomorrow.
We know that only a strong Ukraine, one that is politically consolidated with international financing and economic support, and one that is capable of defending itself is the model we are striving to build toward our economic, sovereign and geopolitical success.
I have no doubt that Ukraine will overcome the immense challenges it faces today and emerge as a vital contributor to peace and prosperity in the region, in the Europe and in the world.
But your support is crucial.
Please believe in Ukraine and join us in this historic process.