Sumario: February 23, 2005: European Parliament - Viktor Yushchenko: "Ukraine's future is in the EU" (Brussels)
Address by President of Ukraine
Parliament President Josep BORRELL welcomed the President of Ukraine, Viktor YUSHCHENKO to the Chamber, noting that the elections in his country had shown a shared democratic desire among Ukrainians, as well as a great maturity among the people and a desire for peace and progress. He said the impressive programme of political and economic reform President Yushchenko had put forward would not be easy to implement, but that it would have the support of the EU. He recalled Parliament's resolution on Ukraine, which had called for the Commission and Council to go beyond the present action plan and begin an association process with Ukraine with a view to that country having the possibility of EU membership in the future.
President Yushchenko said it was a great honour and pleasure to be addressing the European Parliament, the symbol of democracy in the EU:
"Democracy is a value which unites us all. It is the cornerstone of our prosperity. I am also proud to be here representing a country which has built a new symbol on the European continent. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we now also have the Orange revolution. This has shown that totalitarianism is no longer possible in Europe. The people have chosen the path of freedom and truth.
The borders of Europe now stretch from the coast of Portugal to beyond Kiev. We have chosen Europe: it is not just a question of geography, but a matter of shared spiritual and moral values. We have seen the election of a second president, this time in a transparent and democratic manner. It was the development of a civil society which made our victory possible.
It is almost a new nation which has been born, and you in the European Parliament are its godparents. Your support was a great symbol and encouragement to us in our struggle in the difficult month of December. Here in the European Parliament we understood that a new democratic society was possible in the Ukraine. I want to thank you for your support in our struggle for freedom.
Ukraine still has much to do to become a full member of the European family, but we are all now united by values, history and aspirations. We have embarked on a path of reforms. Like making bread, you need the right ingredients and a lot of work. European integration is the only path open for Ukraine. It is time to move beyond words and take action to develop democracy, the rule of law, freedom of the media and to tackle corruption. We must not lose this unique opportunity to bring the EU and Ukraine closer.
It was visionary of the European Parliament to support Ukraine's European aspirations. We will do all we can to make the Action Plan work, and extending it was a positive gesture, but the neighbourhood policy has already been overtaken by events. We hope that at the end of the Action Plan, in 2007, we will be in a position to begin EU membership negotiations. Ukraine is already a part of an integrated Europe. We are able to make an application under Article 49 and will aim to meet the Copenhagen criteria.
We know that the largest part of the work needs to be done on our side. Without action from us, the EU's support will not help us. But we already have a plan of action for the next five years with EU membership as our objective. We want a transparent economy, alleviation of taxes, less corruption and an independent media and judiciary. While I am President, no one will hear of human rights abuses in Ukraine. We also have much work to do to adapt our administration to European standards.
We have plans for important social reforms, for judicial reform, to tackle illegal immigration and the drugs trade. All these will be based on human rights and respect for the dignity of human beings. We aim to implement these changes meticulously and at all levels, doing all this within the European spirit. It is a European philosophy which underpins my work and that of the government.
Ukraine's definitive choice of Europe cannot be denied. Being part of the Atlantic alliance will further strengthen our civil society, rule of law and human rights. But we also want to deepen relations with the Russian Federation. Moving closer to Europe does not prevent closer cooperation with Russia. Ukraine's membership of the EU and NATO is not against Russian interests - on the contrary, a stable Ukraine could help bring Russia closer to Europe.
We have also developed a new regional policy, with our first action being to work for a peaceful resolution of the Transdniestria problem. We want to reach out with cross-border cooperation and development of energy networks to bring European standards into play from Baku to the western shores of the EU.
Nothing is guaranteed, we still need to develop values on a common basis. You need solid foundations or a house will collapse, and, as the Bible says, a house divided upon itself cannot stand. You have witnessed the emergence of a new colour - Orange - on the European map. You know Ukraine can be part of the future of Europe. Now is the time for concrete action. It will not be easy, but together we can achieve our common goal."
MEPs gave a standing ovation to the Ukrainian president.