Ladies and Gentlemen!
Шановні представники українських громадських організацій!
I am very honored to welcome you at today’s evening in Oslo to celebrate the 28th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.
Recently I was warned by one friend that now it is impossible to make Ukraine better known in Norway or elsewhere, as Ukraine is already among the most popular and recognizable countries in the world. This, of course, facilitates my task today, even if not the entire recent upsurge in Ukraine’s popularity is because of its responsibility.
But quite often the trees prevent us from seeing the forest. Therefore, during our reception, we will do our best to show you at least a part of what is the real Ukrainian forest.
And first of all, I and my team at the Embassy hope that this evening in Oslo will help to understand better three important truths about Ukraine:
Ukraine is determined to succeed
Ukraine has everything to succeed
and the success of Ukraine is of profound international significance
Ukraine will succeed in spite of all the odds. Despite the convulsions of a threatening empire to our east. Notwithstanding – sometimes – the lack of the most critical support from our friends. Despite our own post-soviet burden of corruption and other problems that the Ukrainian society is getting rid of with new resolve and determination.
Through its long history the Ukrainian nation has accumulated a lot of energy and resilience. In the past that energy was mostly used for the benefit of the neighbouring empires. But now the Ukrainians strive to use it to achieve their own success that will make a positive impact on a global scale.
These energy and resilience were a driving force of the two dramatic people’s uprisings in Ukraine – the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity – that happened in less than two decades of this century.
These energy and resilience advance the ongoing far-reaching transformations in our society and our economy, which have already produced visible results and brought about a steady economic growth despite the external challenges faced by Ukraine.
These energy and resilience help Ukraine to effectively resist the ongoing Russian aggression – already for the sixth consecutive year. The new political leadership of Ukraine is determined to stop the war. Recently President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken new significant steps towards a peaceful settlement in Donbas. We perfectly understand that any settlement entails compromises, and Ukraine, on its part, shows its readiness for compromises.
Yet the Ukrainians are too well aware with whom they are dealing with. We have to be vigilant, and our partners have to be vigilant too.
If somebody wants to live by illusions, including by illusions of some geopolitical constructs, this is their choice. But in real life, when somebody destroys your building, you are not inviting the perpetrator to dance – you are forcing him to restore the damage and you do everything to prevent him from destroying other buildings.
With the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea and occupation of the Ukrainian territories in Donbas, the building that was destroyed belongs to all of us – Ukrainians, Norwegians, Chinese, Indians, French, Germans – I think the United Nations currently comprise 193 Member States. The most serious challenge is made not to Ukraine only, but to the very foundations of the edifice of the international security order based on the United Nations Charter.
This year and the next year the international community will mark many anniversaries in connection with the end of the Second World War. For example, it might be appropriate to recall that during this week exactly 75 years ago the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation had started that ultimately led to the liberation of Northern Norway. We in Ukraine remember several thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who were killed or severely wounded in this operation. And this was just one episode of this deadliest war in history.
So let’s never forget about what is at stake, about the price that the humankind paid for erecting this edifice of the rules-based order and why it is so imperative to defend it effectively against such challenges.
As for Ukraine, we will continue to be committed to finding a lasting peace settlement. But not at the expense of our freedom and independence.
And we understand better and better that Ukraine’s success is the best and maybe the only formula to arrive at such settlement.
Ukraine is determined to succeed and has everything to succeed.
In this room you can see an exhibition displaying 50 inventions bestowed by Ukraine to the world. Many of you might be surprised to discover that Ukraine is not only the legendary bread basket of Europe possessing over 30 percent of all black soil reserves on the planet.
But that also Ukrainians created the world’s largest cargo aircraft.
That they produce some of the most effective launch vehicles, rocket complexes and aerospace systems.
That they were the authors of a number of breakthrough solutions in science, engineering, medicine and other fields.
That they made a unique contribution to the development of modern computer and information technologies starting from the hard disk drives to the modern instant messengers for smartphones and various electronic appliances.
This is one of the reasons why today Ukraine boasts of a highly innovative and rapidly evolving IT industry, the potential of which is already properly appreciated by our partners, including by many Norwegian companies.
By the way, I would like to acknowledge the presence at our reception of representatives of 15 leading Ukrainian IT companies who came to Oslo to forge new mutually beneficial partnerships with interested Norwegian businesses and companies from other Scandinavian countries.
This exhibition helps to understand better just one dimension of what a real Ukraine is and what Ukraine can offer.
But there are many other dimensions. And, of course, more successful Ukraine becomes in all its dimensions, more beneficial this will be for everyone.
This will be extremely important for the international peace and security. This will be extremely important for our neighbours, for our region and for Europe as a whole.
For collective Brussels it will be easier to give a strategic response to Ukraine’s justified aspirations for membership in both NATO and the EU, and thus eliminate a security vacuum in the very heart of Europe.
And this will be beneficial for Russia. A successful Ukraine will be uniquely important for Russia – this was always the case in the past and this will be true in the future.
This is why you may often hear that what is decided now in Ukraine extends so far beyond its borders and that Ukraine’s success will be one of the greatest success stories of Europe and the world. And what is most expected today by Ukraine from its partners is engagement – engagement that is real, productive and mutually beneficial.
Ukraine’s economic, scientific, natural resources and, most importantly, human potential is quite unique. And Ukraine is a promising and reliable partner to engage with.
I am especially proud and happy to state today that Norway is one of these partners of Ukraine who understand this better and better. Over past few years we are witnessing a real renaissance moment in the Ukrainian-Norwegian relations, and indeed the dynamics of our bilateral partnership are quite impressive. This was recently confirmed at the first important meeting between President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the UN headquarters in New York just two weeks ago.
Ukraine’s bilateral partnership with Norway is based on solid foundations of common values, shared interests and over millennium old historical ties.
Our political dialogue is deep and intense. Recently we have launched new important mechanisms in our relations, such as Ukrainian-Norwegian Dialogue on European Integration, Energy Efficiency Initiative, “Ukraine – Norway: United by History” Initiative and others.
In the last three years we have doubled our bilateral trade. Starting this from scratch, now Ukraine and Norway are engaged into more and more meaningful investment cooperation. We are also exploring mutually beneficial projects in new areas, including high-tech sectors.
As a result of this enhancement in our relations, we are witnessing a drastic increase in people-to-people contacts.
More and more Norwegians are discovering the beauty of Ukraine as a great tourist destination and this is reciprocated by Ukrainians who visit Norway more often. These positive dynamics prompted the Scandinavian Airlines to launch a long-expected direct flight between Oslo and Kyiv – it will start before the end of this month, and, without doubt, further contribute to our people-to-people exchanges.
And, of course, Ukraine highly appreciates strong and consistent position of Norway in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
There is no doubt that the best pages in the book of our bilateral relations are yet to be written, because the potential of our partnership is so strong. But already achieved results give me more than sufficient reasons to conclude my remarks by proposing a toast to a rapidly evolving Ukrainian-Norwegian partnership and its future successes!