Statement by the President at the plenary session of the Fifth Eastern Partnership Summit
Dear President Tusk,
Dear friends, colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here in Brussels, in the heart of the United Europe.
Brussels is a usual destination for Ukrainians.
Grand Place, Berlaymont building… – it increasingly feels like second home here.
Especially since the EU opened a new horizon for the Eastern European partners.
The Eastern Partnership appeared concrete enough to give us the sense of engagement.
Yet – vague enough to calm EU members who felt EU extended too far.
This right proportion of substance and vagueness brought us through tough times:
- In Vilnius, in 2013, when former authorities in Ukraine decided not to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union and thus provoked the Revolution of Dignity – a Revolution for Europe!
- In Crimea, in 2014, when the Russian Federation decided to take revenge in Ukraine and deliberately occupied a part of territorial integrity of an independent state – an immediate neighbor of the European Union!
- In Donbas, in 2014 and till present day, where Russian military forces keep another part of Ukrainian territory under the Kremlin’s hybrid control – an arrogant slap into the face of the international law, and of the EU!
These “tough times” brought important lessons:
- Europe has a serious adversary – Russia – with a deeply anti-European agenda.
- In order to undermine Europe, Russia doesn’t need to attack it militarily (undermining Europe’s unity and self-esteem is enough);
- If Europe wants to endure, it needs to toughen up (politically, rhetorically, ideologically).
We should learn the lesson of Russian hybrid warfare all around Europe – from Britain and Spain to the Netherlands, France and Germany.
- No longer, should we hide behind vague technocratic wordings - we should be clear-worded like never before!
- No longer, should we choose between ideals and self-interests - we should be united by our just cause in our best interests!
- No longer, should we limit potential of our partnership – we should unleash it and be strategic and forward-looking!
The opposite would whet the Russia’s appetite for more.
Some years ago, no one would imagine that such bold and ambitious projects like the Association Agreement or Visa Free regime would become reality.
In Ukraine, we remember the difficult first steps before the European Union decided to embark on those strategic initiatives.
We heard millions of excuses mixed with fatigue and pressure.
Years passed, and they became our joint success story.
Being here, on behalf of the Ukrainian people I want to thank President Tusk, and President Juncker and all our friends for making this historic achievement reality.
You had enough leadership and wisdom to see and pursue a unique opportunity.
You made a reality out of it.
Now, the time has come to set new goals.
Our Summit could become a turning point in this sense.
We should “adjust our sails” and pass the troubled water to new opportunities:
- by encouraging countries that have European aspirations and demonstrate progress on democratic path;
- by showing the way forward to each individual country based on what it aspires and delivers;
We have to be honest with ourselves after what happened in 2014-17 – there is no return to the “old normal”.
The “old normal” doesn’t exist anymore.
The puzzle of Europe’s West and East must be put together anew – and the Eastern Partnership can be integral part to it.
With a good and sound strategy, we could turn the region in a stronghold of political stability, social resilience, and economic prosperity.
Let’s not see the EaP as a way to prevent the countries of the region from aspiring EU membership.
As long as the EU is an etalon of success – nations will want to be a part of it.
The EU should defend itself from those who defy it – not from those who look at it with hope and admiration.
Each EaP country sees this cooperation in its own unique way.
My country is looking (first and foremost) at so-called ‘Four Unions’ – Energy Union; Digital Single Market; Customs Union and association with the Schengen area.
We want more Europe in Ukraine.
These four paths seem to be the right way for now.
Yet we want to look beyond “now”.
Not because we want favors in advance, but because Ukrainians deserve a goal.
Everyone deserves a goal – but especially those who pay a price for it.
And no one pays a higher price than Ukraine.
So, let’s look to future with courage, not fear.
Let’s base our partnership on:
- smart differentiation, not rigid uniformity!
- common values, not technocratic short-sightedness!
- brave ambitions, not clumsy excuses!
Thank you for attention!
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