Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VIII:
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
CRC statement from Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, read during Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VIII: "Ukraine-EU Relations" Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington DC, October 17, 2007.
From the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
October 17, 2007
To the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations
c/o The Honorable William Miller
Conference on Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood
Roundtable VIII: Ukraine-EU relations
Ronald Reagan International Trade Center
Dear Roundtable Attendees:
Thank you for your invitation to address your organization’s annual gathering. I regret that my campaign for President takes me to Iowa on the day you are meeting in Washington.
During the thirty five years I have served in the Senate, I have seen a lot of history firsthand. When I met the members of the Politburo in the Kremlin thirty years ago, Ukraine seemed an indivisible part of the Soviet Union. Today, despite its many challenges, it is an important, independent member of the community of nations. Ukraine still has far to go, but it has accomplished a great deal in a relatively short time.
The most effective way to promote democracy in the world is to lead by example, and Ukraine has been such an example. Ukrainians are slow to anger, but in 2004 they reached a breaking point when the people of the country united and took their destiny into their own hands.
Conspiracy theories thrive in that part of the world – there is too much experience with secret policemen and the fear they engender for it to be otherwise. Some have since suggested that the United States was somehow responsible for the Orange Revolution. The credit for what took place in the winter of 2004 belongs to the people of Ukraine , and their actions have inspired oppressed peoples the world over.
In the years since the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has made enormous strides in its efforts to build bridges to the European Union. The historic intellectual and economic exchanges between ‘a western’ Ukraine and Central Europe have taken on new life. The economy is growing again and, with the successful conclusion of recent voting, Ukraine is establishing a tradition of peaceful and fair elections.
It is important that Europe and the United States do what we can to help Ukraine reach levels of prosperity and stability that will mark the end of its transition. We can support Ukraine’s efforts to build a stronger economy by enhancing our trade relationships. If and when the people of Ukraine are ready we can and should encourage their integration into the European Union and NATO. We should also continue to send sincere people to Ukraine to assists Ukrainians with the technical aspects of developing civil society. We have the largest Peace Corps program in the world in Ukraine and a variety of other cultural and educational exchange programs. This is key because we need more ambassadors than any State Department could ever produce.
We must remember that this is Ukraine’s journey, and that we cannot take it for them. But we have a moral responsibility to support Ukrainians in their pursuit of freedom and democracy. We must help them realize their potential as a nation and support the creation of a space where individuals can realize their ambitions. This is who and what we are, what we believe in, and as a free and independent nation, Ukraine has a share in that legacy.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.