Exactly ten years ago, in November 2013, Ukrainians came to Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) to express their disagreement with the shameful decision of the Yanukovych Government to suspend preparations for the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.
At that time, we did not fully realize that Maidan would become a kind of reference point for our long and difficult path to the European future and our civilizational choice would have to be chosen at the cost of our own lives.
Today, after ten years of struggle for this choice, Ukraine is closer than ever to the realization of its pro-European aspirations. We stand on the threshold of the negotiation process on joining the European Union. Our partners are impressed by the efforts that Ukraine is making to fulfill the criteria for future membership in the EU despite the war.
Ukraine is really in such a historic moment when we have to wage an existential war with the aggressor and implement comprehensive changes in the country simultaneously. We fully understand that our future existence and position in the world depend on the future victory over the enemy and the transformation of the state.
Russian aggression has really become a true opportunity for us to free ourselves from the past connected with our hostile neighbor and change for the sake of a free European future.
It is worth admitting that we had and have no other choice than to use this chance. We have all the necessary elements for this: the political will of the President and the Parliament, substantial help from our international partners and active participation of the civil society.
It is difficult to predict what situation Ukraine would be in today without at least one of the elements listed.
No one could have predicted whether Ukraine would have taken the seemingly ambitious step of applying to join the European Union on Feb. 28, 2022, the fourth day after the full-scale Russian invasion.
Today, a year after receiving the official status of a candidate for accession to the EU, we hear from our partners the admiration for the efforts of our President and the incredible legislative work carried out by the Parliament for the movement of Ukraine to the EU.
We can say with confidence that all these efforts are dictated by the desire of the Ukrainian people to build a strong European state, with strong institutions capable of guaranteeing democracy and the rule of law.
Having completed 90 percent of the reforms provided for in the status of a candidate for the EU membership, we have, in fact, fulfilled the will of the Ukrainian people.
Thus, we proved that fundamental reforms can be carried out even in a state of war.
The parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy, which I head, is a key body of the Ukrainian Parliament. All important legislative changes related to the rule of law are implemented through it.
We understand that judicial reform is the key institutional reform. Both our success within the country and our position in the world depend on it. Together with our international partners we have made great efforts to achieve significant progress in its implementation.
I can say with confidence that we have managed to achieve the desired result.
At present all conditions of the European Commission relating to the rule of law have been fully fulfilled. We have reloaded the two highest branches of judicial power, responsible for the selection of judges, their judicial career and prosecution, the Supreme Council of Justice and the Supreme Qualification Commission of Judges. The composition of these bodies includes honest and professional lawyers, selected according to the competitive procedure.
We have introduced a transparent and effective system for selecting judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
By giving representatives of international organizations, cooperating with Ukraine in the field of justice, the rule of law and anti-corruption reform, a direct and even decisive participation in the selection of members of these two bodies and in the selection of judges of the Constitutional Court. We have demonstrated full openness and transparency which is not found in any another country in the world.
Now it is fundamentally important for us to continue implementing the adopted laws regarding the selection and appointment of judges of the general courts and the Constitutional Court. We must fill the open judicial vacancies with professional and honest candidates who people will trust when they go to court.
The latest interim conclusion of the European Commission states that “Ukraine sufficiently fulfills the criteria related to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for the protection of minorities, defined by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993.” This means that we are on the right track, and we should continue to make efforts to continue the implementation of reforms.
At the same time, we understand that there is still a lot of work ahead in the direction of fighting corruption and reducing the influence of oligarchs on public opinion. This is what we, the President and the Parliament, promised Ukrainians when we came to power.
We will continue to implement all reforms together with our partners. As the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen noted, speaking before the Ukrainian Parliament on Nov. 4, “along with the feeling of admiration for the courage and endurance of Ukrainians, the free democratic world felt responsibility for the fate of Ukraine.”
Ukrainians feel the same responsibility for the fate of Europe and the entire civilized world, restraining the appetites of the aggressor for more than 620 days and fighting not only for their freedom, but also for the future of the entire democratic world.
Therefore, along with the assurances of our European partners to continue supporting Ukraine as long as it takes until our victory over the aggressor, the establishment of justice and the restoration of peace and security in the world, we are very much looking forward to the historic decision to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU. It will be the next important step on our European integration path.
In the end, this is our civilizational choice. Ukraine will become a member of the European Union.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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