Monday, January 22, 2007

A Look Back At Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko's Reunion Day Speech From One Year Ago

21 JANUARY 2006

Press office of President Victor Yushchenko

Reunion Day

Dear fellow citizens!

Today, I will speak about Reunion Day. Recent events make us carefully reconsider dramatic pages of our history and analyze mistakes committed by the great Ukrainians and discover ways to respond to modern challenges.

We recall the Reunion Act, proclaimed in Kyiv’s Sophia Square on January 22, 1919. Back then, the People’s Republic of Ukraine and the People’s Republic of Western Ukraine became one democratic country. Different people marched under the Ukrainian flag. Although their backgrounds differed, the people realized they could be a united nation.

The Reunion Act is, in fact, a political act, which has not been appreciated yet. The thirty-million-people nation, which had been divided for centuries, not only gained freedom but also united without any long negotiations.

Although the national revolution was defeated and Ukraine again became parted, divided and split, a message was sent to eternity. Thousands of patriots living in the evil empire fought for Ukraine’s independence.

To mark Reunion Day in 1990, thousands of Ukrainians made a human chain between Kyiv and Lviv. This event was a significant stage of our spiritual renaissance. It accelerated the downfall of the Soviet Union and helped us gain independence, for it had convincingly confirmed the spiritual unity of all regions of Ukraine.

Thus the ceremony in Sophia Square in 1919 heralded the collapse of the Soviet system and the revival of the national state.

We understood that we were powerful when united, which is the most important lesson of Reunion Day. The defeat of the People’s Republic of Ukraine and the whole chain of mistakes remind us that the only sacred value we share is independence and freedom of our country. Being politically and economically independent, we can make Ukraine take its worthy place in the world. Only a powerful state and powerful government can prevent their nation from serving other countries. This is why we must cherish our unity, giving it our energy and abilities.

The new era gives us new challenges. The greatest of them is not economic or social. We can solve these problems effectively if we unite, ready to face these challenges and overcome them. As President of Ukraine, I believe my most important mission is to unite the people.

I will not let any political force in Ukraine to destabilize the country and use religious, lingual or ideological differences to split it during this year’s campaign. I will not allow any political force to speculate about separatism or federalism.

My nation has proved that Ukraine can never be deprived of freedom. It is no longer possible to divide the people into westerners and easterners. Kyiv is Ukraine’s heart, the west is its conscience and its south and east with industrial giants can be regarded as its locomotive.

Our nation has passed a democracy exam. Unfortunately, our political elite, which are wasting their time on rows and electoral wars, have failed to pass it. Our politicians should learn to be responsible and correct and eventually live with Ukraine in their hearts and stop thinking about their interests in Ukraine.

This is why I would like to urge all political leaders to demonstrate to society we have common values which are higher than electoral battles. Let us together mark Reunion Day and show that Ukrainians can learn lessons from their own history.

I invite the government, parliamentarians and all political leaders to come to the Teacher’s House in Kyiv, where the Fourth Decree was signed, to pay homage to our history.

Never forget about the 1919 Sophia Square and the 1990 human chain, and the 2004 Maidan! Let us remember the days when we together chose the future for our country.

Let us unite to make our future better. We are powerful when united.

God bless you!"


The Orthodox Pochayiv Monastery and Caves of Western Ukraine, dating back to 1527, has for centuries been the foremost spiritual and ideological center for various Orthodox denominations in Western Ukraine, Ukraine, and Russia.

Photo credit: (c) Yuri Buslenko. All rights reserved. With thanks.


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