Posted by: U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt
Two years after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s leaders — spurred on by an active, engaged, and committed civil society — have pressed forward on difficult political and economic reforms to bring Ukraine closer to its chosen European future. They have done so in the face of a Kremlin-manufactured conflict in the East and a struggling economy inherited from the Yanukovych era, making all that has been accomplished in past two years even more inspiring.
Change has not come easily; it has come with great sacrifice. As Vice President Biden said during his visit, to honor those who have given so much – first on the Maidan and later in Donbas – each of us has an obligation to answer the call of history and to help build a united, democratic Ukraine. The most fitting memorial to the Heavenly Hundred is a Ukraine genuinely rid of corruption, cronyism, and kleptocracy. A Ukraine with deepening ties to Europe that will create new opportunity, new growth, and empower a new generation to reach its God-given potential.
In the day-to-day politics and the bureaucratic struggles of economic reform, it’s easy to get lost in the details. But at times like these, it’s important to keep our eyes on the horizon – to stay focused on the trend lines, not the headlines. To recognize that change is happening, and progress is being made, whether in the Rada, the National Bank, the police, or the reformed Naftogaz. In fact, more progress than at any time in Ukraine’s history.
In the last two years, Ukraine has held successful presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in line with international norms. You’ve stuck to your IMF program. Your currency has stabilized and you’ve rebuilt your reserves. You’ve worked hard to regain Ukraine’s credibility with the international financial community. Across Ukraine, you have a new, clean national police force that enjoys the most valuable asset of all, the public’s trust. You’ve made progress on decentralization — empowering local communities to improve services for citizens. Economic growth is returning, and a new Free Trade Zone with the European Union has opened exciting new opportunities to leverage Ukraine’s untapped economic potential.
We all agree that more can and must be done, particularly in the area of corruption where so much damage has been done, but the progress of the last two years shows that Ukraine is changing. Two years ago on the Maidan and in the years since, you’ve shown the world that when Ukrainians stand tall together, no kleptocrat, no oligarch, and no foreign power can stop you. By building an inclusive, democratic government that presses forward on reform and truly serves the people, Ukraine’s leaders can show the world that there will be no return to the ways of the past. That’s what the thousands gathered on Maidan stood for. That’s what the Heavenly Hundred and the thousands who’ve died defending their country from a relentless Russian aggressor gave their lives for. Their sacrifice is your obligation.
In the spirit of the Maidan, Ukraine’s leaders can put the Ukrainian people first – above posturing, party politics, and personal interests. They can seize this opportunity and help Ukraine step fully into its rightful place among the free, democratic, Western nations. That’s the future the Ukrainian people want and deserve. And it’s the best way of honoring the hopes, the dreams, and the memory of those whose blood and courage have given Ukraine a second chance for freedom.