Poroshenko Speaks Highly of the EU Eastern Partnership
The Eastern Partnership is having its 10 year anniversary meetings in Brussels
Photo President Poroshenko Press Office
During the high-level conference for the leaders of the Eastern Partnership countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stressed the importance and efficiency of cooperation of the countries in the framework of this initiative for the promotion of Ukraine on the path to European integration.
“This is a very important date. In 2009, I was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I was present when the Eastern Partnership was only born. We believed that it would be vital for the return of the six countries to the family of European nations,” Poroshenko said.
“I remain an optimist and I think that it was a very positive initiative,” he added.
Poroshenko thanked Poland and Sweden, in particular Radosław Sikorski and Carl Bildt, who were co-authors of the initiative and outlined the clear steps to be taken to distribute European values in order to help these countries become closer to the EU.
“I want to thank President Juncker for his tremendous work on returning my country to European countries. I would like to thank President Tusk for the effective cooperation in introducing sanctions against the Russian Federation for violating the Minsk agreements and aggression against my country. As well as preserving the unity of all 28 European nations,” he said.
Poroshenko also thanked the European Parliament for its unanimous support of Ukraine.
“I hope that we will have the same position in the next parliamentary composition. I want to thank all the European Commissioners, in particular Commissioner Hahn,” he said.
“The last ten years is a story of success. And I will do my best to ensure that the next ten years will be also a story of success,” he added.
Poroshenko said that it was impossible to describe in three minutes the positive changes in Ukraine, as everything has changed.
He noted that the most dramatic moment in the life of the country was November 2013.
“At the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius [Lithuania], where the former president [Viktor Yanukovych] was to sign the Association Agreement, but this did not happen. All European leaders said: ‘Ukraine, you are welcome.’ But this did not happen. And on the next day, millions of people went out to the streets demanding European integration and cooperation with the EU,” Poroshenko reminded, adding that the Revolution of Dignity started because of Russia’s influence.
According to him, everything has changed in the last 5 years.
“When I was elected President, Ukraine was bankrupt, 80% of the banking system did not function due to non-performing loans, GDP was -14%, inflation was 49%, gold and currency reserves amounted to $5 billion, and in the next three months we had to pay $7 billion. The default was inevitable,” Poroshenko recalled.
“This all happened against the backdrop of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russian aggression in the east of my country. Not everyone believed that Ukraine would survive,” he added.
At the same time, due to reforms, Ukraine now has economic growth at the level of more than 3%, inflation at the level of one-digit numbers, this year it should be 6%, gold and currency reserves increased four times.
“We have raised social standards, but the most important thing is that we are carrying out reforms in various spheres,” Poroshenko said.
According to him, the most important reform is decentralization.
“This is the most important factor in combating corruption, because money is transferred from Kyiv to the regions. Local budgets have grown seven times in 5 years,” he added.
“The second position is resilience. We have built up the state. We have created an autocephalous church, independent of Russia, with the help of the Ecumenical Patriarch. We have protected our language, built an army and security forces. We have built up the foundation for the economy. We have a vision for the future,” Poroshenko said.
“The Eastern Partnership helped us get the Association Agreement, the visa-free regime, the DCFTA,” he added.
According to him, as soon as Russia unleashed a war against Ukraine, they organized an economic blockade.
“Russia’s share in our exports equalled to 33%, in two years it decreased to 8%. They believed that we would not survive. And we went to the European market due to the DCFTA,” he said.
Poroshenko said that in 2013, Ukraine’s share of exports to the EU was 25%, today it is 42%.
“This is the best evidence of the effectiveness of the Eastern Partnership and our reforms,” he said.
He also stressed that other reforms – education, pension, healthcare – are continuing in Ukraine.
“One reform may kill any politician, because it is not popular and hard. But this is the issue of my nation’s survival. I am proud that my team has provided all these reforms, including anticorruption reform,” Poroshenko said.
He pointed out that the Anticorruption Court had been created.
“This is a unique court, which is the last element of the anticorruption infrastructure introduced during my presidency,” he noted.
“We launched electronic declarations that promoted the transparency of all state assets,” he also added.
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