Remembering the Orange Revolution

Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft

This week, many Americans are recalling the events of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine six years ago.  For Americans, the Orange Revolution was fundamentally a symbol of hope – hope that Ukraine was turning toward democracy and a society where law was the rule.    Like the earlier Rose Revolution in Georgia, the peaceful protests on the Maidan showed to the citizens of my country a Ukrainian civil society that wanted to turn against corruption and electoral manipulation and build a nation of laws and good governance. 

Large crowd in the Maidan on Nov. 22, 2004

Politicians, historians, and analysts will debate the history of the Orange Revolution and its aftermath.  I believe most Ukrainians recognize that much remains to be done.  My point today is to reiterate that American policy remains unchanged – our hopes for Ukraine remain as consistent and strong today as they were six years ago.  Building democracy and rule of law are at the core of our approach to this country, or as I sometimes say, the overarching umbrella over everything we do here.  Indeed , I would argue that those goals of American policy have been fundamentally unchanged throughout the almost twenty years of Ukraine’s independence.

On December 19, 2008 the United States and Ukraine put those goals into a written document, our Charter of Strategic Partnership.  Section IV of that Charter pledges both sides to work together to strengthen democracy in Ukraine and sets out concrete areas where we agreed to work together.  On April 12, 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych and President Barack Obama reaffirmed the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States and “their intention to realize its full potential”.   According to the Joint Statement issued after that meeting, the two Presidents “recognized their countries’ common interests and shared values mirrored in the Charter: democracy, economic freedom and prosperity, security and territorial integrity, energy security, cooperation in the defense arena, the rule of law and people-to people contacts.  President Yanukovych outlined for President Obama his goals for reforming Ukraine and President Obama reaffirmed our strong support in helping achieve those goals. 

So this is why America cares about democracy in Ukraine, this is why all of us at the American Embassy work so hard to achieve these policy goals.  This is why we devoted so much time and so many of our resources to monitoring the recent local elections, and why we are working to support true reform in this country.  We are determined to support Ukrainians in their continuing efforts to secure for themselves and future generations the freedoms that so inspired the brave Ukrainians on those cold days and nights back in 2004 on Maidan Nezalezhnosti and throughout the country.

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