On May 1 – 12 a delegation of Ukrainian deputies representing Samopomich political party made a working visit to Washington (USA), Ottawa and Toronto (Canada).
Within their visit the delegation held 42 meetings with representatives of governments, parliaments, public organizations and think tanks of both countries, as well as representations of international organizations and representatives of the diaspora, among whom there were:
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Bridget Brink;
Deputy Coordinator of US Aid to Europe and Eurasia Aileen Smith;
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Security Affairs Laura Cooper;
US senators James Inhofe and Rob Portman, offices of Senators Ted Cruz, John McCain and Richard Durbin;
US Congressmen Peter Roskam, David Price, Mercy Kaptur and Brian Fitzpatrick;
Speaker of the Senate of Canada George Furey;
Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Bruce Stanton;
Minister of Public Security and Defense of Canada Ralph Goodale;
Chairman of the Committee on National Defence of the Canadian Parliament Stephen Fuhr;
Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee Bob Nault, Tom Kmiec, Helen Laverder, Michael Levitt;
Members of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group Borys Wrzesnewskyj , Mary Ann Mykhalchuk, James Bezan, Terry Duguid, Linda Duncan, Wayne Stetski, James Maloney, Matt DeCourcey,;
The management of the IMF – deputy director of the European Department, Thanos Arvanitis, and the head of the IMF mission in Ukraine Ron van Rooden.
During the trip the people’s deputies had the opportunity to discuss with the US and Canadian officials the key issues of the security and independence of Ukraine:
Recognition of the fact of Russia’s illegal occupation of the sovereign part of the Ukrainian territory through adoption of the Law on the Occupied Territories
This law will protect people in the occupied territories, Ukrainian soldiers, prisoners of war and will lay responsibility for the occupation on Russia as the aggressor country. The position of the US and Canada as the key international partners of Ukraine is important for the adoption of this law by the Ukrainian parliament.
Increase in the support for defence and provision of lethal weapons for Ukraine
A strong Ukrainian army is the key to the security and stability of Europe, so the United States, Canada and Ukraine should work together on a partnership basis in order to ensure stability in the region. To do this, it is necessary to reform the military industry, strengthen the control over the defence budget by the parliament and work together to create a new military doctrine of Ukraine.
Unified sanctions policy
The preservation and stepping up of sanctions against Russia as the aggressor country will minimize Russia’s ability to continue military expansion in the world. The delegation defended the position that the policy of dialogue and rapprochement with Russia at the cost of Ukraine would lead to irreparable consequences.
The blockade of trade with the occupied territories initiated by the Ukrainian active civil society is a conscious step to complicate Russia’s supplying of the occupied territories.
Formation of a strong, economically independent Ukraine as the first trench of democracy and a strong institutional state
Ukraine needs a new economic doctrine – a special mechanism for the inflow of foreign investment into the real sector of the economy (energy, infrastructure, etc.). To protect these investments Ukraine needs strong state institutions and justice. That is why the support of key reforms in Ukraine – namely, the creation of an anti-corruption court, the reform of customs and tax police, new electoral legislation – should remain the focus of attention of international partners.
On May 9, 2017 in Canada Oksana Syroid had the honor to testify to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Parliament of Canada:
“Esteemed Mr. Chairman, esteemed members of the Committee, ladies and gentlemen!
For me it is a great honor and pleasure to speak before you at the time when you are preparing for the celebration of Canada’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. From the very beginning of the existence of the Canadian state Ukrainians have been contributing to its success.
Canada was one of the first countries to support Ukraine as a state. Canada is also one of the few countries that has the courage to be telling the truth about the Russian armed aggression in Ukraine, starting from 2014. Despite the war in Ukraine, Canada continues to support it on its road to success.
Taking this into account, I want to thank the government of Canada for its assistance in the field of defence, due to which Ukraine has managed to strengthen the army as an institution. I am also very glad that our governments have signed and ratified the Free Trade Agreement, which I believe will be beneficial for both countries.
Let me share with you the main lessons we have learnt during the three years of the war.
First of all, Ukraine is a successful state. We are suffering from war only because we are successful. Ukraine emerged at the junction of two civilizations – Western democracy and Eastern despotism. And today Ukraine is in the forefront of the conflict of these civilizations.
Uncontrolled and successful Ukraine undermines the myth of Russia about its own power and success. That is why the hybrid war against Ukraine began immediately after the proclamation of its independence. Our neighbor has made titanic efforts to destroy our state institutions, our security, economy, but above all – our identity and the unity of the nation.
However, the consequences of these efforts turned out to be the opposite to the expected ones. Instead of following the Russian scenario, the people of Ukraine united around the basic values of Western democracy – the values of dignity and freedom. The success of the Ukrainian people in the enshrining their own identity and democratic values triggered the Russian armed aggression in Ukraine.
Russia is an eternal neighbor and eternal enemy of Ukraine. Now we know that our identity and democratic values are indigestible for Russia, and our only salvation is to build a strong economy and state institutions on the basis of these values and this identity.
Despite the war, Ukraine manages to go through this path with dignity. Together with the civil society, international partners and a new generation of political leaders, which is becoming more and more numerous, the country has managed to achieve significant progress in the reform of decentralization, in ensuring transparency in public procurement, stabilization of the financial system, and reforming of medicine.
However, in order to liberate the Ukrainian economy from the oligarchic influence, much more needs to be done in these and many other areas.
Some decisive steps have been taken in the fight against corruption – Russia’s main ally in Ukraine. Key anti-corruption institutions that have a high level of public trust have started their activities and have already launched a number of proceedings to investigate cases of blatant corruption. At the same time, in order to ensure the fairness of these and any other proceedings, together with public organizations and international partners, we are working on the formation of anti-corruption courts. We are also convinced that electronic declaration has become a significant step towards establishing responsibility of our officials.
Another lesson we have learnt is that no decisions concerning Ukraine can be made without the participation of Ukraine itself. Not only because the Ukrainian people will not allow this, but also because this will be destructive for the international legal order. During our last visit to Washington, we heard that Ukraine was perceived as an obstacle in relations between the US and Russia. The main world players have developed a habit of perceiving Ukraine as an object, not a subject in overcoming geopolitical challenges. The consequences of this habit have been catastrophic. Ukraine has lost more than 40 million who were killed or were not born during the horrors of World War II, the Stalinist repressions, the Holodomor, the so-called civil war and the liberation of Western Ukraine by the Red Army.
However, the difference between the past century and the present one lies in the fact that Ukraine has already got 26 years of experience as an institutional state, and the Ukrainian people are ready to take responsibility for choosing their own path.
Since the beginning of the Russian occupation, the Ukrainian people have learnt to refuse the scenarios imposed onto their country from outside. The “Novorossia” project – a regional occupation uprising – was realized only in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. But people stopped it in Kharkiv, Odesa and Dnipro. Knowing the institutional weakness of the Ukrainian army, Russia planned a second wave of occupation, using its proxy forces. However, these forces were stopped by the people of Ukraine – volunteer battalions and volunteers. The third wave of occupation was planned as a legal occupation through the political part of the Minsk agreements and the introduction of amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. The Ukrainian people were against this and the parliament did not dare to go against the people’s will. The fourth wave of occupation was planned as colonization through economic dependence on the occupied territories. The people of Ukraine put an end to this trade and forced the government to support the trade blockade. At the international level, Russia is trying to replace the rule of law with the rule of power. Unfortunately, not all democratic states are aware of the threat and are ready to give it a proper rebuff. These Russian efforts have already resulted in more than 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, and the situation on the front continues to deteriorate – every day we learn names of the dead and wounded.
We believe that trading Ukraine in any kind of bargains cannot be the answer to this threat. The only answer is recognition of reality. Such recognition will make it possible to apply the norms of international humanitarian law to protect the inhabitants of the occupied territories, as well as prisoners of war. Such recognition will prop up the dignity and motivation of Ukrainian soldiers who are protecting the democracy and international legal order. Such recognition will allow to temporarily isolate the occupied territories until Ukraine becomes institutionally, economically, and militarily strong in order to return them. Just like the once occupied territories were returned to West Germany.
This is our third lesson. When we shared our thoughts with one high-ranking official from the EU, he noted, “Germany was able to do this because it received an offer from the international community to join NATO and the EU. However, there is no such offer for Ukraine.” We understand that now no one except Russia has a clear proposal for Ukraine, but Ukraine has something to offer the world.
Ukraine has the largest trained army in Europe. Maybe our soldiers do not have the best equipment, but they have a unique experience of confronting Russia, and they are ready to share this experience with Canadian soldiers with whom they фку conductштп joint exercises in Ukraine.
Ukraine has a great potential for economic development, namely in the field of infrastructure, information technology, agriculture, and defence.
In my personal conviction, the greatest value for the democratic world is the memory of generations, the experience of Ukrainians in opposing the power that threatens the world, and in the courage to change the course of history. I am convinced that this experience will help restart the world legal order and the world security in the future.
Thank you for attention!”
The working visit to the USA was made by people’s deputies Oksana Syroid, Oleh Bereziuk, Yehor Soboliev and Tetiana Ostrikova.
In Canada, the Samopomich Union political party was represented by people’s deputies of Ukraine Oksana Syroyid, Yehor Soboliev and Ivan Miroshnichenko.