At the all-Ukraine referendum on December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine expressed deep and widespread support for the country’s independence, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed in his annual state-of-the-nation address to the Verkhovna Rada. The president spoke about the guiding principles of the domestic and foreign policy at the plenary meeting held on December 1.

In particular, the head of the state explained what he meant by independence. “An independent from foreign control and foreign interests country where the rule of law is binding for all and not a country where one decides everything and for all. A country where the Constitution is a nationwide agreement rather than a petty backroom deal. A country where politicians work for the wellbeing of all citizens.”

According to the president, for the first time, the economic growth this year will exceed 190 billion dollars, the record level since independence. It is more than the Ukrainian economy showed in the pre-crisis years of 2008 and 2013.

For the first time since 2013, the state debt has fallen below 50% of the GDP. The country’s gold reserves have reached 30 billion dollars. It is the highest indicator since the same 2013. Besides, road construction is well underway. There are plans to build 15 thousand kilometres of new roads, 810 bridges and highway stream crossings in the next two years.

The president promised to submit to Parliament by December 10 a bill on the economic passport of a Ukrainian. Under this bill, funds for using the country’s natural resources will be accumulated on personal accounts of Ukrainian children who will be able to use their money after they have come of age.

The president has noted that since December 1 the minimum monthly wage has been raised to 6500 hryvnas. He went on to say, “We’ve done more than just raised the minimum wage. In the past 30 years, the average monthly pay this year has exceeded an equivalent of 500 dollars.” Besides, next year Ukrainians aged 70 and older will get additional payments to their pensions.

In 2022, the financing of the defense and security sector will exceed 320 billion hryvnas. The army will receive new aircraft AN-178 the construction of which has begun along with a new military facility for building modern drones. Jointly with Great Britain, Ukraine is commencing a new ambitious 1.7 billion pound worth of project for the development of Ukrainian navy. A new corvette will be built together with Turkey.

President Zelenskyy mentioned one more bill to be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, the bill that will permit Ukrainians no matter where they live to have dual citizenship. “To support Ukrainians living abroad is an important component of our foreign policy. I know how important for Ukrainians in the United States, Canada and the European Union is the issue of multiple citizenship. Today I am submitting a relevant bill for Parliament consideration. There are 65 million of us, Ukrainians, in the world,” the president said.

He noted that the passage of the bill would make it possible for Ukrainians across the world to feel more than just the Ukrainian Diaspora or people of Ukrainian origin. They will be people with Ukrainian citizenship. “And to reach such goal is also part of our independence,” the president underlined.

Speaking about foreign relations, Zelenskyy said that this year Ukraine had received the bipartisan support of the United States. Thus, his meeting with American President Joe Biden has resulted in the Joint Statement and the updated Charter for Ukraine-the U.S. strategic partnership.

As for the Agreement for association with the European Union, the Ukrainian government has reported the implementation of 60% of all commitments Ukraine has pledged to meet, including 25% only this year.

“Our cooperation with such international financial organizations as the IMF, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been very profitable. In total, the cooperation deal has brought Ukraine more than 2.7 billion dollars”, the president said.

In his annual address to Parliament, the President emphasized that he was not afraid of meeting President Vladimir Putin of Russia. “I want to end with the main thing. We must speak frankly. We must speak the truth regardless of any challenges. The war in Donbas continues for the eighth year now. Eight years have passed since Russia has annexed the Crimea. I am not afraid to say everything and to speak directly to Russians. That’s why I am not afraid of a direct conversation with him,” stressed the president.

In his words, Kyiv knows which European countries support Ukraine in earnest and which “only pretend that they support her”. Zelenskyy thanked the former.

In this regard, analysts pay attention to a statement Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov made following the annual address of Zelenskyy to Ukrainian Parliament. Peskov has announced that allegedly Russia has nothing to do with the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine. For instance, he said, “To stop the war in Donbas is possible only by way of peaceful negotiations between Ukrainians themselves. It is a civil war ignited by the well-known events that took place in 2014.”

Besides, Peskov has questioned, though indirectly, the wish of the President of Ukraine to speak directly with Putin as well as the today’s statement of Andriy Yermak, the chief of the presidential office. Thus, Yermak said at a news briefing that President Zelenskyy and President Biden would twice talk on phone, before an online video conference the head of the White House will have with Vladimir Putin which is planned for this December and after it.

The newspaper Voice of Ukraine