Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Kyiv 06:47

Address by Prime Minister of Ukraine Arsenii Yatseniuk to residents of southern and eastern regions

18 March 2014, 03:44

Dear compatriots!

In these difficult days, let me appeal to you to preserve the unity of Ukraine, its territorial integrity, peace and tranquility in our country. First of all I would like to openly communicate with the citizens ofUkraine who live in the southern and eastern regions of our country, to respond to those specific issues that concern them.

Unfortunately, the Crimea is not the only region of united and indivisible Ukraine, where the external forces are trying to destabilize the situation, spark artificial conflicts, organize riots and provoke armed aggression from outside, under the pretext of protection of the rights of Russian-speaking people. The directing of not very numerous, but quite aggressive rallies in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk and other cities is performed by external forces. Law enforcement agencies have gathered compelling evidence of involvement of Russian secret services to the organization of riots in the East of the country. There are seized detainees. There is no place for warmongers in Ukraine.

At the same time me, as Prime Minister and a citizen of Ukraine realize and accept the fact that many of us are worried with the issue about regionals’ self-sufficiency, language and church problems, relations with the EU and Russia. There are those who go to meetings without knowing the script and patrons. We hear such people and listen to them, especially as they are knocking at the opened door.

So, let’s talk at the beginning. I'll start with language. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, who was born in Dnepropetrovsk region incidentally, with my full support as the Prime Minister has decided to retain the language law as amended by Kivalov-Kolesnichenko, adopted in 2012. This law still acts. Russian language, according to this law, in all regions, where Russian-speaking people dominate, has the status of de jure regional, but in fact it has the official status with the same opportunities and rights as in Ukrainian language. The Guarantees for Russian language separately prescribed in Article 10 of the Constitution. Nobody attempts to your right to freely use the Russian language. My wife Tereziya speaks mostly in Russian. And she, like millions of other Russian-speaking people, does not need protection from the Kremlin.

Next issue, the expanding the powers of the regions. We’ve introduced a special post of the Vice Prime Minister in the Government, whose main task is the decentralization of power. This major reform while preserving the unity of Ukraine and its unitarity transmits to regions, cities and districts the widest range of powers and financial resources necessary for the development of the region. It will affect health care, public utilities first of all. The re will be a municipal militia. Locale specific nature will be taken into account in education, culture, history and its heroes. All of the innovations associated with the decentralization of power, will be displayed in the new Constitution. We should write together the Constitution.

Concerning Russia and the EU. It is planed to sign the political part of the Association Agreement with the EU on March 21 in Brussels. We’ve postponed the signing of the economic section of this document, taking into account the emotions and concerns about whether a free trade are would not lead to negative consequences for the industrial regions, and it is primarily the East. We will hold further consultations on this issue. In the meantime, the EU has decided to unilaterally open their markets to Ukrainian goods that will be a good help for our economy.

We do not treat to the relations with the EU and Russia on the principle of either-or. Despite the catastrophic deterioration of relations with Russia, admitted not on our will, despite the armed aggression ofRussia against Ukraine, I will do everything possible to not only keep the peace, but also to build a genuine partnership with Russia and good neighborly relations.

The accession to NATO is not on the agenda solely for the sake of preserving the unity of Ukraine. A strong, modern Ukrainian army will defend the country. Agreeing or disagreeing with what I say, you have a unique opportunity to express your position on all contentious issues, including in relation to the new government at the next presidential elections, which will be held on May 25, this year. I'm sure you will find dignified candidates who have programs with those items that are particular interest of you.

Parliamentary form of government-reelection, to which we return, will provide an opportunity to reconcile the interests of all regions, and not to impose the will of some over others. Next year you will elect mayors and local councils to have extended powers, and these tips will form the Executive Committee, which will manage the regions instead of appointees from Kiev.

Parliamentary-presidential form of government, to which we’ve returned, will provide an opportunity to reconcile the interests of all regions, and not to impose the will of some over others. Next year you will elect mayors and local councils with extended powers, and these councils will form the Executive Committees, which will manage the regions instead of appointees from Kyiv.

By the way, I’m against calls to ban the Party of Regions. Its political responsibility is obvious for what Yanukovych has done with the country, but the verdict only for you, for the voters, but not for anyone else. The people on the elections may prohibit any party.

I ask you do not take literally the Yanukovych’s exit as your own defeat. He betrayed you - not by the fact that he left the command bridge and fled from the country cowardly, but what he converted your faith in him, your hope and love even into a fabulous luxury of Mezhyhirya, into billions of dollars stolen from the budget and your pockets. His accounts are being arrested worldwide. Maidan has rebelled against dictatorship, against corruption; it rebelled for human rights in the West and in the Centre, South and East.

Now we need as soon as possible to stabilize the situation in the country. We backed plans of Interior Minister Mr. Avakov (he was born in Kharkiv region) at a government session to seize all unregistered weapons. This operation will affect all illegally armed people, under whatever slogans they do not protrude. No merit can be an excuse for illegal possession of weapons! Who wants to defend Ukraine with a gun in his hands - welcome to the National Guard or Armed Forces, to which a limited mobilization is announced.

I’m deeply impressed by the fact that the vast majority of citizens of Ukraine, as Ukrainian-speaking as Russian-speaking, supports the territorial integrity and unity of the country. Russian language is the same language of the Ukrainian patriots, as Ukrainian language.

I love Ukraine in all its varieties. I have lived and worked in Chernivtsi and Simferopol, Odesa and Kyiv. I love each of these cities and the people who live there on my own way. We need peace and tranquility, and we have a huge chance to change our country for the better. What we had received from the previous regime, it is difficult to name even a ruin. I say frankly, I do not promise "improvement today". But we know what to do to save the country, save the economy and bring it out of the coma and move to economic growth. Yes, it will be difficult. But this is our common task.

Wise words of Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Ilarion, who appealed to residents of Donetskregion, have sunk into my soul. He called for strengthening of Prayer for Peace, the termination of troubles, the multiplication of love. Listen to the call of the Metropolitan "do not incite hatred and hostility towards anyone else!"

The Church, of course, is separated from the state. The question was, is and will be a personal choice each of you in which of the faiths you pray to God, in which patriarchy, Kiev or Moscow.

I ask all of you to keep a tranquility, to peacefully express your position and exclusively in the framework of the law and avoid violent acts, not to succumb to provocations, not to engage in separatist actions, not to believe rumors, which are elements of the war against Ukraine, the information war that a part of your salaries and pens will be taken for Maidan’s needs allegedly - it is a pure lie. Do not believe that “banderovtsi” are going to rehabilitate you - it's a lie.

Dear compatriots. We made findings from the mistakes of 2005-2014. No one will impose his values. However, each of us should treat tolerantly to the fact that near there is millions of people who for a variety of circumstances just think differently. Variety is not our fault. This is our wealth. And we are all united byUkraine.

I want to conclude my speech with the words that you see every day on every Ukrainian TV-channel "Єдина країна. Единая страна." So, it will be!

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