25 years ago, on December 1, 1991, a referendum on the Act of Declaration of Independence was held in Ukraine. An overwhelming majority of 92.3% of voters approved the declaration of independence made by the Ukrainian Parliament on August 24, 1991. The Act of Independence was supported by a majority of voters in each of the 27 administrative regions of Ukraine, including Crimea. From December 2, 1991, Ukraine was globally recognized as an independent state by other countries. That day the President of the Russian SFSR did the same. Georgia recognized Ukraine’s independence on December 12, 1991.
Looking back, I clearly see bright moments, but there were also miscalculations, slow reforming and lack of a vision – it takes time to build any independent, let alone a country that underwent “the Soviet experiment”.
But today, after the Revolution of Dignity of 2014, I can say that we have already crossed the point of no return back to the USSR. Indeed, in less than three years since the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014, my country has made more progress in dealing with corruption and reforming its institutions than in the previous 23 years.
The introduction of the recent e-declaration is probably the best proof yet that Ukraine is serious about tackling corruption. It has involved more than 100 000 civil servants and politicians making all their assets accessible for public scrutiny.
The introduction of the public e-procurement system ProZorro earlier this year is another good example of what we are now doing. It is eradicating corruption while at the same time saving in the region of 100 million Euro to date – money that can be used to support hard pressed public services
New reformed police forces have also begun to operate in 32 of our cities. We replaced the soviet-style corrupted street police with new young and motivated police officers. They are already enjoying greater support from the wider public.
Having contracted by 9% over the last two years, the economy is now set to grow by almost 3% per annum over the coming years while investment in the country has increased by 11,4% this year alone. Conducting business in Ukraine is becoming easier than ever before.
The success of these and other Ukrainian reforms is confirmed by reputable international institutions and rankings:
- Ukraine reformed across all World Bank Doing Business indicators,
- Ukraine climbed 25 positions in the United Nations E-Government Development Index,
- Ukraine improved 16 positions in “Strength of Investors Protection” in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum,
- Ukraine also improved 57 positions in Tax Paying Rank composed by the World Bank.
And we have achieved all of this under the most challenging of circumstances – a Russia-led war against my country. We understand that in these circumstances we have to be strong both inside – and I indicated our progress in this regard – but also outside. And that’s where we count on our international partners, including Georgia.
The war with Russia costs thousands of Ukrainian lives, both military personal and civilians, Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbas costs at least 5% of our GDP. So what we need from our partners is their continued support of our reforms and our fight against the aggressor.
I am absolutely sure that not only Europe but the entire democratic world will be better off with a democratic Ukraine that is an independent, peaceful, predictable and successful country.
Ukrainians are at last aware of being Ukrainian and will never give away the independence they won in Donbas battles no matter who the president is. And, if there is a normal political situation in the country, independence opens up new prospects for socioeconomic development.