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Speeches and Interviews

Talking Points. Opening Remarks, Conference: Implementation of Legislative Initiatives on Preventing and Countering Corruption in Ukraine

  • Good morning. Distinguished guests, Mr. Rybeka, Mr. Moskal, Mr. Klemencic  distinguished deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, officials, scholars, experts, fellow diplomats, and friends.
  • I am pleased to join you today, to open this important and timely conference on the prospects for anti-corruption legislation in Ukraine. It is particularly good to know that this conference takes place just as Ukraine’s leadership is addressing the need for reforming Ukraine’s anti-corruption legislation.
  • The key aspects of this reform include:  
    - ethics and conflicts of interest in public service laws; 
    - financial control through the declaration of assets, expenditures and income;
    - establishment of a National Bureau of Anti-Corruption Investigations; and 
    - the Anti-Corruption Package of Laws, scheduled to take effect on January 1.
  • We commend you for these efforts, which will be important steps in Ukraine’s continuing progress toward international standards on combating corruption.  
  • A just, transparent, and effective legal system is the very cornerstone of a democratic society.  It is the key to protecting human rights, to insuring the rule of law, and to curtailing corruption. 
  • Such a legal system serves not only to protect the people of a nation from crime, but also to ensure that they can resolve business and commercial disputes fairly and openly, that they are protected against excessive governmental power, and that they are assured open and honest treatment by the police, by prosecutors, by the courts, and by all their government institutions.
  •  Rooting out the cancer of corruption is critical to Ukraine’s economic future.  A fair and transparent legal system is essential to encouraging business investment and promoting economic growth; keys to Ukraine’s future prosperity.
  • I know that the need to reform Ukraine’s anti-corruption legislation has been the focus of much debate for many years. 
  • Having ratified several major international anti-corruption treaties, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Council of Europe’s two Anti-Corruption Conventions, Ukraine has binding legal obligations to take concrete measures both to prevent and to prosecute corruption, including enhancing ethics and financial disclosure regimes and increasing enforcement efforts. 
  • I believe that we may finally have arrived at a time when Ukraine will begin to see not just debate about what is to be done, but real progress in combating corruption, through the enactment of genuine reform legislation. 
  • As I noted earlier, the enactment of the anti-corruption package of legislation and the adoption of the laws on the conflict of interests, asset disclosure and establishment of a specialized law enforcement agency are key steps.  
  • It is essential to Ukraine’s European future that that this new legislation be consistent with European standards, as set forth in the recently issued expert opinion for the Council of Europe, authored by Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) chairman Drago Kos.
  • Perhaps most important, President Yanukovych has pledged his commitment to meeting international standards in the course of these reforms, and particularly to meeting the standards of the Council of Europe.
  • This bodes well for the future of the rule of law in Ukraine, and for Ukraine’s future prosperity.  We applaud and support this commitment.  Reform of Ukraine’s anti-corruption legislation is an area where the US has long assisted Ukrainian efforts.
  • When requested by the Ukrainian government, we have helped organize events such as this one, brought international experts from throughout Europe and abroad here to meet with Ukrainian experts, hosted Ukrainian experts abroad, and provided practical support for workshops and publications.
  • We will continue this support.  The United States is deeply committed to Ukraine’s democratic and economic development in which strengthening the rule of law is so central. 
  • I wish you a fruitful conference and, more importantly, success in advancing the further development of Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda.
  • Thank you for your attention and participation.