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Speeches and Interviews

Remarks at 20th Anniversary of U.S.-Ukrainian Relations concert

Ambassador Tefft delivers remarks at the concert

Ambassador Tefft delivers remarks at the concert

Concert hall of Zhobtnevy Palace

Concert hall of Zhobtnevy Palace

January 20, 2012

Mr. President, Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentleman, Good Friends…

Thank you all for coming here tonight to help us mark the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Ukrainian diplomatic relations.

I am told there is an old Ukrainian proverb:  

dah-leh-kiy shlyakh, ta blyzh-niy druh

“To see a friend, no road is too long.”

Tonight, we have gathered together many friends who have traveled the long road of building a sound U.S.-Ukrainian relationship with us.  Many of you who are here tonight have played an important role in building U.S.-Ukrainian relations.  Gathered here, we have officials and former officials ambassadors and former ambassadors, members of the U.S. business community, members of the Ukrainian diaspora, leaders of the NGO community and civil society, artists and activists, professors and teachers, students and alumni of our many programs.  

Twenty years ago was a historic moment as we created a new Embassy and watched a new country being created before our eyes.  I was then the Deputy Director in Washington of the new office of Commonwealth and Newly Independent States.   I like to feel that I too was present at the creation… albeit separated by 5,000 miles.

At the core of our relationship throughout these past 20 years have been the people-to-people contacts within government programs and outside in private contacts.   Thousands of Americans and Ukrainians have developed close personal ties that are the cement that holds us together, even when our official relationship had its problems.

As we worked together, Americans and Ukrainians have gotten to know each other and to share their experiences.  Peace Corps volunteers fanned out across the country into the lives and homes of thousands of Ukrainians, who take them in and teach them Ukrainian ways.  Today, the Peace Corps in Ukraine is the largest such program in the world.  And many former volunteers stayed or came back.
Our U.S.-sponsored exchange programs have sent more than 40,000 Ukrainians to the U.S. since 1992.   Scholars, students, experts, officials and community leaders at all levels have traveled on our various academic and professional exchanges  These programs have allowed a broad spectrum of Ukrainians to see their work in an international context – and to see the United States first hand.   
Through the US Agency for International Development, the American people have helped support economic growth and transition.  We have encouraged Ukrainians as they built democratic skills and institutions, promoting civic participation and good governance.  
Throughout these twenty years  our goals remained unchanged. The United States wants, as it has always wanted, what Ukrainians themselves want for their country -- a Ukraine that is sovereign, independent, prosperous and irreversibly democratic: a country that is modernizing as a European state; a transparent, inclusive Ukraine where a dynamic civil society is free to contribute to public life; a country which is open to investment and welcomes international business, and a Ukraine, where all citizens enjoy the full protection of the rule of law.

To repeat the Ukrainian proverb: “To see a friend, no road is too long.”  

The U.S. is a true friend of Ukraine and we are willing to walk this long road together with our Ukrainian friends.