Victor Yushchenko made a speech in Kyiv’s Independence Square. He congratulated his fellow citizens on the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution, Freedom Day.

In his speech, the Head of State spoke about Ukraine’s achievements a year after the revolution and outlined major challenges facing his government and society.

The President noted that there was much freedom in various fields of social life: “I am proud that we are celebrating the first anniversary of our freedom. Only free people could gather in this square and find ways to settle the conflict that usually ends in civil wars in many countries.”

He said most Ukrainian citizens “regard Ukraine as their motherland”: “The Maidan helped millions of people to confirm their national identity.”

The President opined that our major achievement was freedom of speech: “I am sure very soon the press will really become the fourth branch of power.”

Yushchenko added that, as Head of State, he wanted “journalists to be partners.”

He noted that the Orange Revolution had helped protect people’s right to elect their government. Speaking about next year’s parliamentary elections, the President assured all “the campaign will be fair and transparent from its first day.”

“State offices, state institutions, computers and cars will not serve any political force,” he pledged.

Then Yushchenko dwelled on social accomplishments.

He reiterated that in the past nine months the government had created 830.000 jobs, reaching the lowest unemployment rate in Ukraine’s history. The President said we had made the term of military service shorter, and in 25 days would withdraw our peacekeepers from Iraq. He reminded those present of the Kryvorizhstal auction, which had brought more money than ever before.

Speaking about our ambition to join the EU, Yushchenko said, at a Ukraine-EU summit on December 1, Ukraine expected to get a market economy status and to liberalize visa requirements for Ukrainians.

Then the President spelled out our major tasks. He believes we should first of all fight corruption. Yushchenko noted that the government had a clear plan to fight this evil through “staff rotation.” They also plan to revise regulatory acts and to repeal paid services at state agencies. The Head of State said judicial reforms would help fulfill their promises.

Commenting on educational reforms, Yushchenko stressed that its task was to make higher education available and affordable for all school graduates: “To do that, we will create a testing system.”

“We are sure those who will win in education will win in the world,” he concluded.

Speaking about medical reforms, he said it was necessary to reform the first aid sector. The Head of State stressed that next year’s budget would provide for funds to increase village doctors’ salaries and to buy equipment and ambulance cars.

The President urged all citizens of Ukraine to “never forget one of the revolutionary values: we are united and we cannot be divided.” He noted that unity had helped us defend our rights, and said he believed that these values would be “inherited” by future leaders of the country.


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