Speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a solemn meeting of the Verkhovna Rada on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine
Dear people’s deputies, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Prime Minister!
Representatives of the government, the Office of the President, the diplomatic corps, your Beatitudes, dear judges, journalists, guests of the solemn meeting!
A quarter of a century ago, on this very day, in this very hall, a very important symbol of our history, our independence and our state was born!
And I sincerely congratulate all of us on this great, special, double holiday - the Day of the Constitution of Ukraine and the 25th anniversary of its adoption!
You know, on such an iconic, unique date, I would like not only to say something, but also to do something important. Make something more than typical anniversary stamps and coins with the inscription "25 years of Ukrainian Constitution!"
Before coming here, I traditionally, as every year, laid flowers at the monument to Pylyp Orlyk - Hetman of the Zaporozhian Army and author of the famous Constitution of 1710, which is called the first written Constitution of Europe.
The vast majority of us know, heard or read about it.
At the same time, the vast majority of us have never seen it. Have not seen fragments of our history and our heritage. Moreover, in 311 years, the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk has never been at home in its homeland.
This is wrong. This is not fair. And this needs to be fixed.
This way I can briefly describe the dialogue I’ve been holding for several months with the Swedish authorities, whose National Archives contain the original Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk. And today we can finally share the good news.
First, the National Archives of Sweden handed over three copies of Pylyp Orlyk's Constitution to Ukraine. One was exhibited in the lobby of the Verkhovna Rada in the morning. The second will be located in the President's Office. The third will be located in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. After updating and rebooting the Court.
And the second news. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of our Independence, for the first time in 311 years, the original Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk will arrive in Ukraine. Together with the mace of Hetman Pylyp Orlyk and Hetman Ivan Mazepa, everyone will be able to see it in St. Sophia Cathedral. The canvas of our history has a thousand years and as many missing puzzle pieces. We return these pieces to Ukrainians. We return Ukraine to Ukraine.
Glory to Ukraine!
From this high rostrum, I would like to thank our Swedish partners once again. In the last month, taking into account EURO 2020, Sweden has shown for the second time that it is our great friend. We believe tomorrow it will show how much it loves Ukraine for the third time.
Actually, I'm kidding. I wish everyone success tomorrow and let the stronger one win! And we know who is stronger.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
A truly historic event took place 25 years ago. Its significance is so large that even a slight pathos in the assessments seems appropriate and organic. The adoption of the Constitution is called the last chord in the symphony of state formation. The Bible of legal commandments for all Ukrainians. The legal shield and armor for human and civil rights and freedoms. The business card of the state and the nation, which at the highest legislative level answers the question: who are we? Where are we from? What do we strive for? How do we want to live? And what do we want to reach?
But I think that the Constitution itself gives the best assessment of the Constitution.
The first word with which its first article begins is "Ukraine". And that says it all. Its second article begins with the word "sovereignty". And the third - with the word "man". And this says even more.
Yes, compared to the age-old Constitutions of many states, our basic law is very young or even adolescent. But the things I mentioned above, as well as the assessment of the international community, which called our Constitution one of the most democratic, its human-centeredness (a third of the articles is dedicated to human and civil rights and freedoms) - all this shows that our young Constitution is at the same time mature and wise.
And this is absolutely logical, because 25 years is only its latest period, which is preceded by centuries-old traditions of the constitutional process of Ukraine.
More than 1,000 years of the Ruska Pravda. 367 years of the Articles of March by Bohdan Khmelnytsky. More than a century of the Constitution of the Ukrainian People's Republic. And the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk has already been mentioned today. It is our duty to multiply these important traditions, preserving the modern Constitution, knowing how difficult it was to adopt it.
Today I would like to thank the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 2nd convocation who, despite political confrontations, 15 different drafts of the Constitution, 6,000 amendments before the 2nd reading and a continuous sitting for over 24 hours, found strength and unity to adopt the long-awaited Constitution of Ukraine. Thank you!
To finally understand its significance, just imagine for a moment that this did not happen in 1996. And we still live by the Soviet constitution. We are called the Ukrainian USSR, we have simulated freedom of speech, thought, movement, religion, political choice, private property rights, opportunities to do business and much more.
On June 28, 1996, the emergence of the Constitution of Ukraine marked a number of other important things. The Ukrainian language received the status of the only state language, and the hryvnia received the status of the national currency. The state symbols were fixed at the highest legislative level: the blue-yellow flag, the trident and the anthem.
And all these years there is only one open question. The only state symbol, which is directly envisaged by the Constitution and which still does not exist.
This is the Great Emblem of Ukraine. Over the years, there have been many different competitions, disputes, quarrels, opinions and different visions. This is normal, this is democracy. I think that in the year of the 30th anniversary of independence and the 25th anniversary of the Constitution, we need to finally put an end to this issue.
Therefore, in accordance with Article 93 of the Constitution of Ukraine, I submit to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine a draft law on the Great State Emblem of Ukraine and define it as urgent for extraordinary consideration by the Verkhovna Rada. The first President of Ukraine Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk will report on the bill during its consideration at the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
I want to thank all the deputies. I know that representatives of many factions are involved in this process. It is very important.
Finally, I would like to appeal to MPs, government officials and all other respected civil servants, regardless of rank and status.
After the first words of the three articles of our Constitution that you have already heard about, the following articles of the Basic Law begin with such words as "state", "land", "public life", "rights and freedoms", "citizens", "children", "environmental security", "legal order", "defense of the homeland", "state language and symbols", "right to vote", "people's will".
And long after them, almost at the end, the words "President of Ukraine", "people's deputies" and "Cabinet of Ministers" are mentioned for the first time. The Constitution has clearly set priorities. Everything that is much higher than us, our interests and ambitions. Everything we have to protect and provide. Everything we should serve. I have mentioned most of it today. Maybe you don't remember everything. And most importantly, remember three words. Ukraine. Sovereignty. Man.
Congratulations to all of us! Congratulations on the Constitution Day of Ukraine!
Glory to Ukraine!