Congressional Record Statements
|PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 106th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION
||Washington, Thursday, July 13, 2000
TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF UKRAINE SOVEREIGNTY DECLARATION
Thursday, July 13, 2000
TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF UKRAINE'S SOVEREIGNTY DECLARATION
Mr. Speaker, ten years ago, on July 16th 1990, the Supreme Soviet (parliament) of the
Ukrainian S.S.R. adopted a far-reaching Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The overwhelming vote of 355
for and four against was a critical and demonstrative step towards independence, as Ukraine was at that time a republic
of the Soviet Union.
The Declaration, inspired by the democratic movement Rukh whose key members were veterans of the Helsinki
movement seeking greater rights and freedoms, proclaimed Ukraine's state sovereignty and stressed the Republic's
intention of controlling its own affairs. Ukraine and its people were identified as the sole source of state authority in the
republic, and they alone were to determine their own destiny. The Declaration asserted the primacy of Ukraine's
legislation over Soviet laws and established the right of Ukraine to create its own currency and national bank, raise its
own army, maintain relations with foreign countries, collect tariffs, and erect borders. Through this Declaration, Ukraine
announced its intention not to use, possess, or acquire nuclear weapons. Going beyond Soviet leader Gorbachev's vision
of a `renewed' Soviet federation, the Declaration asserted Ukraine's sovereignty vis-a-vis Moscow, a move that only a
few years earlier would have been met with the harshest of sanctions.
The Declaration's assurances on the protection of individual rights and freedoms for all of the people of Ukraine,
including national and religious minorities, were extremely important and viewed as an integral aspect of the building of a
sovereign Ukraine. The Declaration itself was the outcome of emerging democratic processes in Ukraine. Elections to
the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet--the first in which noncommunists were permitted on the ballot--had been held only a few
months earlier, in March 1990; one-third of the new members elected were representatives of the democratic
opposition. Even the Communist majority voted for the Declaration, reflecting the reality that the Soviet Empire was
steadily unraveling. A year later, on August 24, 1991, the same Ukrainian parliament declared Ukraine's independence,
and in December of that year, on the heels of a referendum in Ukraine in which over 90 percent voted for independence,
the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
Mr. Speaker, since the adoption of the Declaration ten years ago Ukraine has witnessed momentous transformations.
Independent Ukraine has developed from what was, for all practical purposes, a colony of the Soviet empire into a
viable, peaceful state with a commitment to ensuring democracy and prosperity for its citizens. It has emerged as a
responsible and constructive actor in the international arena which enjoys good relations with all its neighbors and a
strategic partnership with the United States. Obviously, the heavy legacy of communism and Soviet misrule has not yet
disappeared, as illustrated by stifling corruption, and inadequate progress in rule of law and economic reforms. However,
the defeat of the communists in last November's presidential elections, and the appointment of genuinely reformist Prime
Minister Viktor Yushchenko have given grounds for renewed optimism, which is supported by evidence of growth in
some sectors of the economy.
Mr. Speaker, now is the time for the Ukrainian people to strengthen and ensure independence by redoubling their efforts
to build democracy and a market economy, thereby keeping faith with the ideals and goals of the historic 1990
Declaration on Sovereignty.
HON. CHRISTOPHER H.
of New Jersey
Citizenship and Political Rights