Victor Yushchenko congratulated Ukrainian judges on their professional day, the President's press office reported. In his speech at a ceremonial session of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, the Head of State stressed that this was “the most elite and respectful national audience.”

“I am convinced you are paragons for millions of people,” he said, wishing them professional achievements and welfare.

The President remindedthose presentof the historic verdict toannul the run-off election as fraudulent. He stressed that “morality and commitment to justice” of the judges of the Supreme Court helped keep the people, “who were on the verge of civil war,” from destructive actions. Yushchenko said the verdict“ was warmly supported by the people and helped restore trust in the judicial system, state, and government.”

TheHead of Statereiterated that principles of democracy, freedom of speech and justice were “fundamental values we need to promote” in our country.

He commented on next year's judicial reform, saying it was a challenge “which is easy to respond to by introducing systematic and permanent monitoring.”

The Head of State stressed that the Supreme Court of Ukraine should be the motive force of this reform.

“I think we are standing on the threshold of genuine judicial reforms today,” Yushchenko declared.

He admitted that it would take more than one year to introduce the reform but noted that we “cannot postpone it for years,”urging parliamentarians, ministers and judges to unite for its successful implementation.

The President said in January 2006 the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine would first formulate an effective action plan to reform the judicial system in 2006. Yushchenko added that this “specific agenda” would include measures to construct court premises and to improve judges' social and financial welfare.

Yushchenko stressed that it was vital for the country to have independent courts, ands aid he wanted to demonstrate by his own example that the so-called telephone right was unacceptable. The President noted that the judicial system should efficiently respond to “some unpleasant precedents” that degrade the authority of judges.

“I am convinced that courts and judges should care about their authority, avoid bringing inquestionable verdicts and demonstrate transparency and independence,” he said, stressing that his imperative primarily concerned the long-expected investigation of controversial cases.

The President said he was sure judges “should courageously resist all attempts to influence them,” observing nothing but laws in their work.

“I believe in your honesty, conscientiousness, and commitment to the people and the country,” he said.

Yushchenko awarded the judges with state orders.

Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, Premier Yuriy Yekhanurov, NSDCU Secretary Anatoly Kinakh, and First Deputy Secretariat Chief-of-Staff Ivan Vasyunyk attended the meeting.


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