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