Petro Poroshenko: Ukraine fights on two fronts – one military, the other for reform

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said his country is fighting a war on two fronts at the same time – one to counter military aggression and restore its territorial integrity, and the other to implement difficult and complex reforms.

Addressing PACE today in Strasbourg, he hailed his country’s “considerable progress” on the path of internal transformation and pledged that it would continue to bring its laws, practices and institutions into line with Council of Europe standards. He thanked the Assembly and the Council of Europe for their active support for reform in Ukraine.

He outlined an “unprecedented” series of steps to counter corruption, which had already brought positive results, and said renewing trust in the judiciary was his next strategic priority – including the creation of a special Anti-Corruption Court, which should be free of political influence.

On his main theme, President Poroshenko pointed out that Russian military forces were still on Ukrainian territory in Crimea and Donbas – and that his country was still obliged to continue seeking responses to Russian aggression.

Re-stating Ukraine’s readiness to find a peaceful settlement, he urged Russia to “finally begin to implement security commitments under the Minsk Agreements” and hoped for movement on the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation in Donbas.

He thanked the Assembly for “the hand of support” it extended to Ukraine a year ago with its resolution on the “Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine” – and urged it not to return to “business as usual” with Russia. Quoting Sir Winston Churchill in 1950, he said: “Either we shall prove our worth and weight and value to Europe or we shall fail.”

The President also strongly rejected any suggestion that the occupation of Crimea was a fait accompli. “This tribune was not invented for calls for appeasement. Neither was it for appeals to trade in territory for money, oil or gas. It was invented to safeguard our fundamentals, our values and our principles.”