Embassy of Ukraine in Ireland

, Kyiv 05:36

Address of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland Sergii Reva at the conference “Ukraine: one year after Maidan”

13 February 2015, 17:29

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr.O’Beachain and his

team as well as to the DCU’s Institute for International Conflict Resolution and

Reconstruction, the Georgetown University and the McCain Institute for their joint

efforts to hold the conference on the issue which is of paramount importance for

my country in this most dramatic and challenging moment of its modern history.

The theme of the conference is very topical and I am glad that this event is taking

place here in Dublin since being Ambassador to Ireland I have to state a deficient

awareness and comprehension of cause-and-effect relationship of developments in

my country.

Actually the impact of the last year uprising in Ukraine, which is widely known as

the “Revolution of Dignity, echoed around the world and, as we see now, possibly

triggered a major geopolitical shift since World War II and the Caribbean crisis.

For that very reason it is very important to look closer at these dramatic events

from our current perspective and to assess their legal and political implications.

I congratulate the organizers on a good and balanced choice of keynote speakers. I

would particularly like to welcome among us President Kwaśniewski and

Commissioner Fule who in my view are best experts on Ukraine. Both have visited

my country dozens of times, are familiar with all spectrum of political life in

Ukraine. They not only know almost everything about the situation in Ukraine but

apparently even what to do about it.

I do hope that today’s discussion will facilitate a comprehensive understanding the

origin of the Ukrainian Maidan and processes which now are underway in Ukraine

and will give an impetus to more profound studies of issues related to Ukraine by

Irish researches.

Dear friends,

The Ukrainian “Revolution of Dignity” started as a wave of demonstrations and

civil unrest in Ukraine and abroad.

People at Maidan flew the flags of the EU and Ukraine. Contrary to allegations of

the Kremlin propaganda protests in Kyiv had no anti-Russian background. People

called not against Russia but for Europe. They wanted to rid their country of

corruption. They saw the EU as a beacon of freedom, democracy and opportunity.

Violent dispersal of protesters, President’s unwillingness to listen to people who

had been appealing to him for three months, ignoring the international community

calls to resolve the crisis peacefully, finally, turned in bloodshed. 103 people were

shot dead and more than one thousand injured on the streets of Kyiv. Sensing that

the game was up Yanukovich fled to Russia.

It has been almost a year since the victory of EuroMaidan in Ukraine. What were

the most tangible changes in the country during this year in my opinion?

I see the primary achievement of Maidan in the fact that the mentality of

people in Ukraine has changed. Visible revival of civil life and engagement of

non-government experts and activists in the state decision-making process are

notable phenomena after the events on Maidan.

Most Ukrainians stopped being just passive, silent and indifferent observers – they

tried to be actively involved into a state building process. A number of

organisations have sprung up to help push reform. For example, The ‘Reanimation

package of reforms’ group brought together 300 experts and activists to work on

draft laws and lobby for them in the Verkhovna Rada. They have managed to pass

11 bills through the Parliament including most notably, one on making the state

more transparent.

Here also should be mentioned more than 20 000 volunteers who now actively help

to supply the army at the conflict zone in the Eastern Ukraine.

Notable democratization in different spheres of political life can be highlighted

among positive achievements of Maidan.

These achievements were confirmed by presidential and parliamentary elections in


The two electoral campaigns, conducted in a democratic manner and recognized

internationally, removed from the agenda all speculation about legitimacy of Kyiv


Obvious positive consequences of the Maidan were the renewal of Ukraine’s

advance towards European integration and the signing and ratification of the

EU Association Agreement. Although there is no specific perspective of

membership it is the most ambitious and complex agreement the European Union

has ever negotiated with a third country.

The Association Agreement became an additional pro-reform factor which obliged

Ukraine to pass a whole host of potentially difficult reforms, but also opened up

the possibility of greater trade with, and mobility to Europe, as well as advisers and

financial backing from the EU.

The effect of the accord will be even greater once it is duly ratified by all 28 EU

member countries.

As Ambassador to Ireland I am very pleased to note that two weeks ago the

DáilÉireann by overwhelming majority voted for the ratification of the Association

Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. 

Thus, Ireland became the 14th EU country which ratified the Association

Agreement with Ukraine. This decision of the DáilÉireann was yet another proof

of Ireland’s real support by to Ukraine’s European aspirations and its solidarity

with the Ukrainian people in these difficult times.

The launch of reform in different spheres of social and economic life – in

particular, in the spheres of the fight against corruption, decentralisation of state

power, education, mass media, etc. – can also be counted on the list of

achievements of the Maidan.

Anti-crisis measures to bridge the budget gap are being implemented. A number

of shadow economic schemes were eliminated. As a result income of the state

budget increased by 5%.

Energy independence was one of the urgent tasks for Ukrainian government

to be resolved. The reverse supply system of natural gas into Ukraine from the EU

was launched. It decreased our gas dependence on Russia drastically. As of

November 2014 Ukraine purchased 60% of the imported natural gas from the EU,

saving $500 ml due to a cheaper price.

Gas consumption was reduced by 20%. Ukraine submitted a claim against

Gazprom to the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

In the field of agriculture food security was ensured. Agricultural output grew by

16%, recording one of the largest harvests in Ukraine’s history. Important laws to

harmonize the procedures and standards with EU regulations were adopted.

So, where are we with the reforms a year after Maidan?

In my view it is too early to make long term conclusions. I wouldn’t be honest with

you if I said that everything went smoothly. Many obvious expectations of people

on Maidan were not met. However, it is evident that Ukraine has made some

progress towards implementation of fundamental economic, social, legal reforms

which were urgent in the situation Ukraine found itself. That is why I have an

overall feeling and belief that Ukraine is heading in the right direction.

At the same time we must be patient. Changes will not be easy or immediate.

Times are hard and it is a big challenge for all of us, especially when Russia tries

to make everything to prevent Ukraine from developing.

I think everybody knows what Moscow did after Maidan. Russian troops invaded

the territory of Ukraine in Crimea under the illegal and groundless excuse of

protecting the Russian speaking population from “fascists and nationalists” without

no tangible evidence whatsoever of any threat to life and limb of anyone in


One should make no mistake about these allegations. Nobody and nothing

threatened Russians and other nationalities living in Ukraine and in the

Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in particular.

Being a Crimean by origin (I was born there and my mother lives in Sevastopol) I

know first-hand the situation there. Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars and

representatives of other nationalities have been living peacefully in Crimea for

decades. The only bone of contention sometimes was language.

But I responsibly state that allegations that the Russian speaking population in

Crimea was deprived of its right to speak Russian are just not true. The abolition

by the Parliament of a controversial and mainly politically motivated law on State

Language Policy, has been vetoed by the acting President and hence still remains

in force.

Trying to justify its aggressive actions Russia looked for more and more excuses.

The Russian Ambassador to the UN stated in the Security Council that it was the

ex-President Yanukovych who had appealed to the Russian President to bring

troops into Ukraine and even demonstrated a sheet of paper with Yanukovysh’s


I deliberately don’t dwell on moral side of this matter. Even the closest allies of

Yanukovych in Ukraine were outraged at his disgusting attempt to use a foreign

army against his own people.

I just want to point out that according to the Constitution only the Verkhovna Rada

can legally invite foreign troops to move into Ukraine, not even a President in


On March 16, a so called “referendum on the independence of Crimea” was held.

This farce which totally contradicted the Ukrainian legislation, conducted under

the shadow of Russian guns in the absence of impartial international observers was

used by Russia to formally annex the peninsular.

Kremlin’s arguments to justify these illegal acts are just ridiculous. Initially the

Russian leaders referred to the Kosovo precedent which in fact has nothing to do

with the annexation of Crimea. May I just recall that Kosovo has never been

annexed by someone. By the way, Russia has never recognized Kosovo’s

independence either.

The last pearl of Moscow’s wisdom is the allegation that GDR was annexed by

Germany. No comments!

The annexation of Crimea was condemned by the international community. 100

states voted for the U.N. General Assembly resolution reaffirming their

commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in accordance

with its internationally recognized borders.

As Ambassador to Ireland I cannot but note with satisfaction and gratitude that this

country was one of the first to take a clear and firm position on that matter. Ireland

was among the cosponsors of the said U.N. General Assembly resolution.

Moreover, last April the Irish Dail passed a motion condemning the illegal

annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

Unfortunately, all these calls were ignored in Moscow which after the annexation

of Crimea started to destabilize eastern regions of Ukraine trying to play the same

scenario there.

In Donbass, as earlier in Crimea the so called ‘little green men’ in Russian military

fatigues, without insignia and well armed arrived and occupied strategic buildings.

They then retreated from view to be replaced in part by indigenous separatists.

Russia thinks it found a foolproof way to conduct a war – not calling things their

names and flatly denying the truth. Moscow propaganda endeavors to present the

events in the East of Ukraine as a civil war denying its direct involvement in them.

But all facts – videos of captured Russian servicemen and munition, stories of dead

and injured Russian soldiers in Ukraine – prove the contrary. Leaders of pro-

Russian separatists on many occasions openly stated that they constantly received

from Russia heavy weaponry including tanks, armored personnel carriers, multiple

missiles launchers etc.

Fighting on the ground has gone through many phases and caused severe damage

to the region. Hundreds of buildings, enterprises, kilometers of roads and railways

were destroyed. But the most unfortunate part is human toll. According to the U.N.

report more than 5 600 people were killed in the course of fighting in the eastern

part of Ukraine, children and elderly people among them.

To stop war and to launch a political dialogue the Ukrainian President Poroshenko

announced a two weeks-long unilateral ceasefire and put forward a fifteen-point

plan for peace. The main provisions of his proposals called Poroshenko peaceful

plan were the following:

- Amnesty for those who laid down weapons and didn't commit serious crimes.

- Liberation of hostages.

- Establishment of a 10-kilometres long buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian

border. Withdrawal of illegal armed formations.

- Decentralization of power.

- Protection of Russian language.

- Early local and parliamentary elections.

But these peace proposals were discarded by separatists. The armed clashes in

Donbass went on. Russia continued to supply mercenaries and heavy military

equipment to the region of conflict as well as shelling our troops from its own


On 17 July Malaysian airlines flight, MH 17, was shot down over pro-Russian

separatists held territory resulting in the death of more than three hundred persons.

The international investigation of the aircraft crash is still under way but it is clear

that this awful crime became possible due to Russia’s constant military support to

the terrorists in the East of Ukraine, including supplying them with advanced


Against this background on 5 September a protocol called the Minsk Agreement

was signed. Apart from immediate ceasefire the Agreement contained major

provisions of the Poroshenko peaceful plan with some modifications.

However, as it turned out the pro-Russian separatists had no intention to meet their

commitments. The ceasefire is being broken every day. More hundreds of people

including civilians were killed during this “truce”.

Moreover, on 2 November illegal armed groups organized so called “elections” in

certain areas of Donbass, which are under their control.

By proceeding with this illegitimate exercise, organizers of the fake “elections”

violated the legislation of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements, thus delivering a

serious damage to the process of peaceful settlement.

All civilized world condemned these illegal so called “elections”. Even Russia

didn’t dare to recognize them openly. However, by some encouraging statements

before and after that farce Moscow in effect gave green light to it demonstrating its

interest in derailing the peaceful resolution of the situation in the East of Ukraine.

Although there have been numerous diplomatic exchanges since Minsk ceasefire

agreement, little progress has been made towards a broader settlement.

There was no real cease-fire in Ukraine. Instead, we witnessed a significant

increase in fighting along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine.

The recent Merkel-Holland common initiative was the last attempt to stop war. We

have received encouraging news from Minsk. The agreement reached yesterday, or

better to say this morning, is due to thorough examination and analysis.

Although my colleagues-Ukrainian negotiators bitterly joke that all agreements

with Russia are either disregarded or violated, which is actually the same, I do

hope that this time this will not be the case.

A lasting peace on our land will allow us to focus on reconstruction and reforms

building up a democratic and prosperous Ukraine. That’s exactly what people rose

for on Maidan a year ago.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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Address by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland Sergii Reva at the opening ceremony of the photograph Exhibition “Ukraine: Inspiring Dignity” | 13 February 2015, 17:42

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