Victor Yushchenko believes Ukrainian peacekeepers have fulfilled their mission in Iraq before their final withdrawal. Addressing them at the Delta base in the city of al Kut, the Head of State said, “Two and a half years ago we predictably appeared in Iraq. Today, the Ukrainian troops are leaving this country, having negotiated their pullout with all partners.”
He added that they would return to Ukraine on December 29, the President's press office reported.
The President reminded those present that this was the third phase to withdraw the troops from the post-war republic. 550 soldiers returned home May 15 and 150 troops came back March 15.
Yushchenko stressed that they “were leaving a friendly country” and said our “great mission” in Iraq had attained its political aims.
“The two countries started to build economic, trade and political relations when the troops were based here,” he noted, adding that Ukraine had greatly reinforced its international status by sending them to Iraq.
“Ukraine became an active participant of almost all international political processes,” he stressed.
Yushchenko added that “almost no political conflict” was currently settled without Ukraine’s involvement.
“Ukraine is trusted. Our policy is predictable and helps make friends,” he said.
The President also thanked the soldiers for their activity in Iraq. He said they had helped conduct local elections to approve the Iraqi constitution and to elect members of parliament. Yushchenko noted that these two events “have laid the foundation of political government in Iraq.”
“We welcome these stabilizing processes,” he concluded.
The Head of State added that our troops had professionally trained six thousand Iraqi soldiers. The third brigade of the eighth national division of the Iraqi Armed Forces was drilled by the Ukrainians.
“There are prepared for any tactical task […],” he stressed.
The President said the troops had also greatly contributed to the humanitarian development of the area. Our soldiers built sixteen schools for more than four thousand pupils. They renovated seven kindergartens and four highways and fixed three electricity cables giving light to more than a thousand of Iraqi families. They also restored four water-supply facilities, providing 35,000 locals with fresh water. In addition to these achievements, forty thousand Iraqis received medical aid from Ukrainian doctors.
“So I would like to reiterate that the Ukrainian peacekeepers are leaving this country as partners and friends,” he said.
“The last Ukrainian soldier is leaving Iraq but that does not mean Ukraine is leaving it,” Yushchenko stressed.
He said about fifty experts would stay in the country to work at headquarters to train Iraqi soldiers. Yushchenko added that their major task was to “consolidate Ukrainian economic and political interests.”
“I am convinced that in the near future Ukraine and Ukrainian firms will actively cooperate with new leaders of Iraq,” he said.
Addressing the soldiers, Yushchenko emphasized that they would apply their professional experience, gained during the mission, to develop the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
“You now how to fight and work with allies. You know how to choose itineraries and form patrols. This is a priceless military practice,” he said.
“You have fulfilled your task. Ukraine and I are proud of you,” he stressed.
Then the Commander-in-Chief awarded the soldiers with state orders and gave them presents. He dined at the military canteen and ate Ukrainian borshch, which had been cooked for the delegation. He also honored eighteen Ukrainian soldiers that had been killed in Iraq.
Yushchenko arrived at the Delta base from Baghdad by the Hercules military plane.
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