Friday, May 7, 2010

President's address to Great Patriotic War veterans at Ukrainian House

Dear Liberators of Ukraine and the world!

I'm honored to be here with you on the eve of the Great Victory Day. I bow to your wisdom, strength of spirit, and faith in the future of Ukraine and its people.

In your wise eyes, in the nobleness of your old age I see the endless energy that makes us - your children and grandchildren – to confidently move forward and lead the country.

Your strength and your example teach us to disregard obstacles and be not afraid of troubles. I know exactly that in the trenches near Kyiv, Kharkiv or Odessa you experienced much harder times than we do today, fighting consequences of the global recession and negligence of the previous government. You have withstood that war and revived a powerful country. Together with you, we will build a new Ukraine and make sure that the whole world respects us.

The Victory Day is one of the greatest holidays for Ukraine and for each of us. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil, future over past, life over death. This day unites people against aggression and war, symbolizes the craving for peace and prosperity.

World War II is one of the greatest tragedies of the XX century. This tragedy is not only Ukrainian or European, but of global scale. The war engulfed different countries, different continents, became the author of bloody pages in history of many peoples of the world. But of course, our land and our people suffered the most. Never before in its history, Ukraine had paid such a high price for peace.

The war claimed millions of lives, destroyed many towns and villages, maimed numerous human destinies. I am sure: there is no single person in Ukraine, Russia or Belarus, who would not bow the head on this day before the memory of millions of dead soldiers and officers, their loved ones. The war did not spare a single home, or family. Its bitter taste was felt by everyone.

That is why the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War is one of the most important dates, which unites peoples of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. This is our common pain and common pride. It is our responsibility before our fellow-veterans and the memory of those, who never returned from the battlefields.

With my colleagues - President Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko – we agreed to celebrate the Victory Day together and synchronize holding the festive events.

It is often said that wars are cursed by mothers. It is indeed so. Today I bow my head before our mothers, who raised Ukraine's brave and dedicated soldiers. They gave peace to our people and future to our country.

The life of every single man is priceless. However, Ukraine paid the price of millions of lives of its best sons and daughters for peace. We must always remember that. And we must appreciate life, given to us by God.

I, dear veterans, do not support universal celebrations, as it is said, "for one day”, after which the heroes are forgotten until the next May 9th. Therefore, I demand that all the authorities, the Cabinet, the government of all levels, celebrated such holidays as the Victory Day with daily improvement of care for veterans, who need protection and state support.

We have canceled the infamous calendar principle of celebration of the important dates. I think it is unacceptable and cynical to honor heroes once a year and then forget about them the very next day. I condemn the officials, who put a false smile on their faces for veterans on May 9th and on May 10th immediately stop noticing them.

I know that your hearts, the hearts of war heroes who gave us great victory, will be warmed with the days of hard work of authorities aimed at easing your life, rather than only one day of warm porridge and parade. This is my life principle. And believe me, I strongly demand all the officials of all levels to respect that.

That's why I took the whole process of preparation for the solemn events on the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War under my personal supervision. I headed the Coordinating Council aimed at joining actions of all executive bodies, local authorities, those involved in organizing and holding events to celebrate the Victory Day. I am against the politicization of this holiday! I am for making it the holiday for all citizens, regardless of geography, blood group, nation, etc..

In the basis of all the events I see the idea of strengthening social protection of older people and veterans by the state. I am well aware of how difficult your life is. My heart bleeds when I see the poverty in which the people who saved the world from fascism sometimes live.

So I identified key objective for the Government: not a single veteran of the Great Patriotic War should be left without attention and systematic care. Improving quality of life of veterans is permanent priority of the government and public policy.

We work in extremely difficult circumstances. Today we fight both the consequences of economic crisis, and the results of irresponsible policy of the previous government. I believe that the latter of these has damaged Ukraine much more than the former one.

We have assumed the country on the brink of economic collapse. During last two years the country had no state economic policy. You are wise people and you saw it all. Management of public finances resembled firefighting, instead of being thoughtful, systematic actions.

The result is disappointing. Due to previous government’s actions the gap in budgetary resources in 2010 amounted to 100 billion UAH. These funds we severely lack in making life conditions decent for our veterans, our pensioners. But believe me, we are not looking for excuses. We deliberately took up to this difficult and thankless job. We know how to bring it to a successful conclusion. In my life I follow the principle: if you want something done - do it yourself. And I will do that. No matter what it costs me.

Despite all the complexity of economic and political situation in the country, we managed to maintain and, in many cases, to substantially increased financing of social items of the budget. First of all, our actions were aimed at protecting the retirees and veterans. I primarily mean full implementation of the Law "On improving social standards”. Thus, we have increased pensions of 7 million retirees by 16%.

I instructed the Government to compensate during 2010 the losses from depreciation of monetary savings to veterans. The Government will reward veterans, particularly those citizens of Ukraine, who live in other states, with jubilee medals and prepare for holding parades and fireworks celebrating May 9, 2010 in the hero cities.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine received the instruction to ensure that foreign delegations of veterans are invited to Ukraine to participate in the May 9 celebrations.

Council of Ministers of Crimea, Kyiv and Sevastopol city state administrations received instructions from me to develop programs of holding the Year of the Great Patriotic War veterans. The programs will provide additional measures to improve living conditions, healthcare and transport services to veterans.

I would like to name specific figures to illustrate the effectiveness of social protection of veterans by the state.

The total budget of annual May 9th aid to war veterans and victims of Nazi persecution was increased by 52.7% to 601.1 million UAH.

We have almost doubled the aid to the disabled war veterans. The disabled of I category will get 1000 UAH. I would like to remind that last year the previous government provided the aid to be 540 UAH. The aid to the disabled of II and III category in 2010 will respectively be 900 and 800 UAH. In 2009 these figures were 430 and 380 UAH.

The 2010 Budget provides increase of financial support to veterans’ public organizations up to 11.3 million UAH.

To buy housing for I category disabled veterans it is planned to spend 140.4 million UAH in 2010. The previous government in 2009 has not allocated a single hryvnya for that. It is planned to spend 50 million UAH to buy cars for disabled Great Patriotic War veterans of I category and those, who have special merits before the country.

I must admit that in general I am satisfied with the work of the Government and local authorities in preparation for the celebration of the Victory Day. But important things are yet to come, and these requirements will be strict for us to complete the tasks we have set before us in 100%.

I would also like to say that in these extremely difficult conditions we have reached the maximum possible results for now. This is not as much as we would like it, but these are real practical steps our predecessors failed to make. The key difference between us and them is that we are not going to stop at this. We will do these things during our whole term, for as long as the Lord God and the Ukrainian people let us.

Dear veterans!

You are the symbol of courage, bravery and true commitment to your country. I am proud of you. And until you are an example for our children, I look with confidence into the future of our country. The victory, you brought, is priceless. It cannot be measured in wealth and riches. It brought us the most priceless things: peace, freedom and future.

I sincerely thank you for not sparing your lives and health for the sake of peace, for the sake of Ukraine. For us living in peace and calmness and being able to decide our own path. For you bringing together people of different generations, different regions, political views, cultural and other preferences around the great holiday – the Victory Day.

Great military leader Suvorov once said that war continues, until the last soldier is buried. The Great Patriotic War ended 65th years ago, but unfortunately we have not honored all those who perished properly. The Ukrainian government will put all efforts in ensuring that all the monuments and graves of the soldiers were in good condition. This is our duty to those who died.

Today Ukraine and much of the world lives in peace and calmness. World War II was a great lesson and great warning. Mankind must put an end to wars. Or wars will put an end to humanity.

So, dear veterans, I bow before you. God grant you health. God give you more joyful and longest possible life. Be happy with your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I wish you happiness, inspiration and bow before you!