What awaits us after the «Revolution of Dignity»?

Speech at the European Parliament in Luxembourg (20.06.2014) during the World Peace Forum 2014
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.
For me, it is a great honor and special pleasure to be here being able to share with you some ideas concerning the current situation in Ukraine.
Today, Ukraine became the focal point for the entire world. Politicians, military, religious, social activists and millions of ordinary citizens from different continents turned their eyes to my country. People ask: What is happening in this part of the world? What do the events in the East of Ukraine signal? What conditions could lead to the end of the conflict? What do Ukrainians actually want and what they are fighting for? Does Europe need Ukraine? Will finally our European World remain like before?
I will try to present a vision of the answers to these questions from Ukrainian viewpoint and then answer your questions.

In those days of the year 2013 when the nearby Place d’Armes here turned into a bright and festive Christmas market, two thousand kilometers to the east, in Ukraine, thousands of people gathered on the squares of their cities to express support for the signing by Ukraine the Agreement of the association with the European Union . This event was to be held in November .. in Vilnius.
The regime of President Yanukovych, that for three years of his reign had brought the country to the impoverishment and destruction, was not interested in such Association because the association with the European Union meant the necessity to conduct reforms fair and open. The regime that for a short time created one of the most powerful systems of corruption, could not agree with the fair rules.

That led to the massive protests both in Kiev and throughout Ukraine, and those protests were called Evromaydan. The Protest against corruption, against the authorities, who sold their country’s future to Putin’s Russia, over time turned into a resistance movement defending the elementary decency in the social life.

Then the Ukrainian Revolution was called «Revolution of dignity.» This expression perfectly reflects what happened in Ukraine. Awareness of self-esteem and the ability to build a new life according to new civilized rules — that’s the main leitmotif of today’s Ukraine’s struggle for the right to be in the family of European nations.

Why does Ukraine want to Europe?
Ukraine does not ask for entry into Europe! Ukraine wants to return to Europe from where the country had been kidnapped once!

Even a superficial glance at the history of Ukraine shows — for centuries (sometimes as a subject, sometimes as an object) this country, starting from the 10th century, has always been a part of the European processes. Its story evolved sometimes dramatically, there were periods when the Ukrainians lived without their state.

The independence proclaimed in 1991 gave our country the chance for new development. This process was not easy, but irreversible. Over the past twenty years we have seen in Ukraine a fairly quick process of political Westernization: the spread of Western institutions for ever-increasing share of Ukrainian territory, the spread of European values and behaviors among the ever-growing number of Ukrainian citizens. These processes got a significant acceleration, especially in the last half year. Four years ago, the share of supporters of joining the European Union in Ukraine amounted to 39%, 47% in October 2013, then in March 2014 62% of Ukrainians support Ukraine’s entering the EU.

These processes of Westernization sometimes are embodied in the form of Ukrainization. The hostile to Ukraine propaganda often presents this as a manifestation of fascism, anti-Semitism and radicalism in the Ukrainian society. However, the most eloquent refutation of this could be the recent presidential elections held in May. The representatives of these radical pro-Ukrainian forces gained an amount not exceeding 2% of the votes. A similar percentage of people, for example, voted for the extreme nationalist parties at the recent elections in German lands. In Ukraine, the society voted for a broad dialogue and social consensus, standing for Petro Poroshenko as a new president already in the first round. This is a man ready to dialogue with different parts of Ukrainian society.

In his inaugural speech, President Poroshenko clearly stated the political will of the leadership of the country: «We — the people who were separated from their great motherland of Europe, are back to her. Finally and irrevocably. »

«Revolution of dignity» undoubtedly renovated the Ukrainian society. It also laid the foundations for the modern Ukrainian democracy. One activist described the feelings of people standing on Maidan, «We came to Maidan looking for Europe and found the Ukraine.»

Ukraine is not Russia
This was the title of the second book of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, published in 2003. Its title expressed the idea that is strongly resisted by the Kremlin propaganda: the Ukrainian state became established and the Ukrainian nation is not the same as Russia’s.

Over the years, the Kremlin propagandists introduced the idea of the so-called «Russian world»: the ideological construction, which main message is the statement that there are neither Ukrainians nor Belarusians, that they all present the single Russian nation. On the basis of this ideologeme, a Russian is anyone who speaks Russian. On this basis, Russia feels entitled to protect the rights of Russian-speaking people anywhere in the globe. For the same reason Russia invaded Ukrainian Crimea. Falsified referendum in Crimea (on some voting precinct the «turnout» was 148% of the electorate), Russia forcibly annexed the peninsula. For the same reason Russia «protects» today the Russian-speaking population in the East of Ukraine.

Following the same logic, tomorrow Russia can make a claim against France or Germany telling that in these countries the right of Russian-speaking people is infringed: to be admitted to school or to work, they are «forced» to learn German or French, as today they are “forced» to speak Ukrainian in Ukraine. The language issue is today one of the main targets of political posturing in the Russian propaganda.

Yes, Ukraine has really strong moment of the past. Many people are afraid of the future. This moment is used by the Russian propaganda. From the Kremlin’s point of view (following in this tradition the Soviet propaganda) people are not able to revolt on their own. All that we see in Ukraine, according to Putin, is only the influence of external forces: the European Union and the United States. But the future will inevitably come. And when the future comes, when it becomes the present, people will accept it.

We should not forget that the Russian propaganda is working hard in Europe. More than once, Polish, English and the other publications notified about the work of organized groups of pro-Putin «trolls», from the standpoint of the Kremlin commenting the events in Ukraine. They often are written like a blueprint. “The Guardian” recently had to remove more than 500 comments of «trolls.» The channel “Russia Today”, many paid «experts» perform the same function. Therefore, even a simple reader in the West is often difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, when looking for truthful information about Ukraine.

It should also be remembered that Russia unleashed a full war against Ukraine. In Eastern Ukraine there are fights involving Russian mercenaries armed with Russian weapons. Speaking on May 31 in Vilnius, at the meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly the former Putin’s adviser Andrei Illarionov convincingly showed in 10 theses that Putin’s goal is not Ukraine, but the world domination, World War IV. Ukraine (like Georgia 6 years ago) for Putin is just an occasion to humiliate Western society, which in the face of Putin’s aggression proved helpless and failed to defend Georgia. Now he wants to repeat the experience with Ukraine. On the brink of a new war, it is worth recalling the words spoken in the XVIII century by Edmund Burke: «For the final victory of evil, only one thing is needed: that people of good will did not do anything.»

Why does Europe need Ukraine?
In May, Kyiv hosted a large conference “Ukraine: Thinking Together” that brought together the politicians, scientists, public figures, artists and journalists from Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, America. One of the sections of this forum was entitled the same way: Why does Europe need Ukraine?

The participants of the discussion were unanimous: the events of Ukrainian Evromaydan became a kind of reminder for Europe of those ideas that once accompanied the creation of the European Union. Today, many people associate Europe with the developed economies, a number of agreements concerning the energy market. However, the most valuable in Europe is what we should thank to the vision of the three men: Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gaspari and the Konrad Adenauer. They saw in the process of European integration the way to restore the social life after two world wars. This path of the European civilization, started by the founding fathers, basically goes back to Jerusalem (Biblical faith), Athens (intellect) and Rome (law). Thus, the values of Biblical faith, Greek philosophy and Roman law underlie the commonality of European nations. These are the values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

Maidan showed us the people who literally were willing to die (and died) for these values. Thus, they have shown their importance and vitality. Thereby, Ukrainians are like urging their brothers in Europe (not only politicians and intellectuals, but also ordinary people living in Europe) to return to the basic, fundamental values that are rooted in our world and in our hearts.

Ukrainian Evromaydan is also the answer to the modern Euro-skeptics in Europe itself: the European values are able to inspire millions of people today also. This, in particular, in the midst of events in Kiev at the end of last year was recalled in Milan by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso: «When we see in the cold streets of Kiev, men and women with the European flag, fighting for that European flag, it is because they are also fighting for Ukraine and for their future. Because they know that Europe is not just the land of opportunity in terms of economic development, because they have seen what happened in Poland or what happened in the Baltic countries, but also because Europe is the promise of hope and freedom».

Ukraine after the «Revolution of Dignity»: what is next?
Ukrainian Evromaydan has been completed. It achieved its goal. Yanukovych regime was overthrown. The President who came to power for the first time clearly and decisively announced the European course of the country.

Of course, some risks remain. The possible use of the revolution’s results by oligarchs and backstairs politicians – just like after 2004 Orange Revolution. We remember well the disappointments associated with President Yushchenko, who lacked the political will to complete the changes initiated by Maidan then.

Revolution is not a one-time act. Revolution is the change of lifestyle. This takes time and vision. Today, we need to begin the process of self-purification. We need to remember that the highest value are people. Based on the fact that people are the highest value, the principles underlying the social structure of Europe must be realized by us. These are the principles of the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity.

The Europe that is loved and appreciated by each of us is Europe of not only economic power but — above all – this is Europe of the great human spirit’s power, Europe of values, Europe of the great thinkers, artists, scholars and saints.
Today, Europe speaks the language of security, while Ukrainian Evromaydan speaks the language of values. Values — that is the engine of democracy.

After Ukrainian Evromaydan the world has changed. Nobody can live as before. Evromaydan requires from us to return to the basic values of the European concept. You can live based on high ideals. You can live based on short-term interests. Ukraine chooses the path of values.

Today, we are going back our European home. We are still far away from it, but we are already on the way to. And we believe that coming back we should not find the doors locked from inside. On the contrary, we hope to meet our brothers and sisters coming out to meet us with joy, saying, «Let us have fun! For behold our sister was dead and came to life, was lost and found. »

Speaking in Berlin on June 11, at the annual reception at Chancellor Angela Merkel, before the diplomatic corps Apostolic Nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Eterovic Mikola expressed his hope that the European project would also affect those European countries that are currently outside the EU, «to multiply freedom, peace and democracy, prosperity and respect for human rights across the continent». Only Europe based on these values will be increasingly powerful not only in economic but also in political, social and cultural spheres throughout the world.

(Translated by Mark Shevchenko)