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Speech at the YES-conference in Kiev September 15th 2016 

Speech delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the YES-conference in Kiev September 15th 2016

 - check against delivery –

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a personal pleasure for me to speak today. For me as a young Danish liberal politician, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a defining moment. It meant new prospects of a free world, democracy, free trade and human rights. My party leader at the time, foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, took the lead in getting the Baltic and Eastern European countries back into the European family of democracies. And I was a proud supporter.

 

 

In 2002 the EU enlargement was negotiated under the Danish EU presidency. It was my party leader at the time, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took the lead in bringing East and West together as a new Europe. Once again I was a proud supporter.

 

 

Now it is our turn to set European history on the right track.

 

 

For Ukraine the path towards Europe has never been easy. However, the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people have been present all the way and have grown still stronger – especially since the 2014 Dignity Revolution.

 

 

I have two main messages today:

 

 

First, Denmark and the EU stands firm in its support to Ukraine’s European aspirations and against Russian aggression in the East and Crimea. Every nation has the sovereign right to choose its own future. Therefore, the EU must stand firm on our sanctions and our message to Russia: The conflict in the East must stop and we will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. I assure you that we will keep Ukraine on top of the EU agenda despite a world too full of crises.

 

 

Second, the best way to promote the European aspirations of Ukraine and to counter Russian aggression is to make the New Ukraine a success – with jobs, growth and transparency. It is the responsibility of the Ukrainian people and leadership to realize this New Ukraine.

 

 

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Much has been achieved since 2014 but the reform process has now reached a critical point. In some important areas reforms are not being implemented or are moving forward at snail’s pace. This creates disappointment and frustration among Ukrainians. As I have said to my good friend and colleague Mr. Pavlo Klimkin, the Ukrainian government and parliament must reinforce reforms, for instance in the justice and energy sectors and on decentralisation and anti-corruption.

 

 

I acknowledge the difficulties to reform Ukraine in the middle of a severe conflict. However, this cannot and must not serve as an excuse.

 

 

Denmark will continue our support and friendly push for reforms. We have enhanced our financial support.  We have put the issue on the agenda of the EU Foreign Ministers. And we urge the EU and its Member States to do even more, to do better and to coordinate better.

 

 

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Corruption is perhaps the most important and difficult reform area. It exemplifies the struggle between the New and the Old Ukraine. It affects citizens and companies and must be dealt with.

 

Important progress has been made with legislation and new structures. But we still experience delays and obstacles. The e-declaration system is a case in point. I urge the government to make sure it is implemented.

 

 

Today, I am honored to announce that Denmark has been chosen to lead the new EU anti-corruption program starting at the end of this year. It is a program of more than 16 million euro. Denmark will assist Ukraine with strong credentials: We are repeatedly rank as the least corrupt country by Transparency International. We will work hard to make the program a success – but in the end it will depend on the political will of Ukraine. 

 

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My final message is that the EU will not let Ukraine down. There is too much at stake – for Ukrainians, for the EU and basically for international rules and values. I urge and hope that Ukraine continues to seek closer ties with Europe and Denmark. The EU should also deliver on our vision for stronger relations, including a visa free regime.

 

 

We all have a responsibility to fulfil the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people. It is a moral obligation to a population that has fought hard for closer ties with Europe. We stand firmly behind Ukraine’s right to determine its own future. Thank you. 

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