Speech by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Verkhovna Rada with the Annual Address on the Internal and External Situation of Ukraine
Dear citizens of Ukraine!
Dear Ukrainian people!
A year ago, I began my address by saying that its format should be changed. And, in addition to people's deputies, I should report directly to the people who hired all of us for five years, hired me! These are our military and their families, our doctors, scientists, students, artists, athletes. Citizens of Ukraine. From all regions of Ukraine, including our Donbas and Crimea. I am glad to begin this address today by welcoming all of them in this room!
This is especially symbolic today. On a significant day that happened exactly 30 years ago. On December 1, 1991, the All-Ukrainian referendum on Ukraine's independence was held, supported by an absolute majority of Ukrainian citizens. From all regions, including Donbas and Crimea.
We took a big step 30 years ago. But we did not go further.
We restored, proclaimed, chose and gained an independent Ukraine. But we never started building it. Independent of other people's influence and other people's interests.
Where the law is one for all, and the law decides everything. Not one decides everything, and for all this is the law. Where the Constitution is a big social contract, not a small backstage "contract". Where politicians work for 100% of citizens, not for 20% of GDP of one citizen.
Such a country has not been built for many years. We have all been building such a country for the last two and a half years. Really free and independent state.
An independent country is first and foremost a healthy country. We have been opposing COVID-19 for two years. We started with almost nothing. And it's true. Now we have almost everything. Hospitals, beds, oxygen and, most importantly, vaccines. Yesterday we did not know how to distribute the first batch of 500 thousand doses. And now, millions of doses of AstraZeneca, CoronaVac, Pfizer and Moderna are available. We started with ten thousand vaccinations a day. In November, we made 6.5 million. Thanks to our doctors. And in total today we have already carried out 24 million vaccinations.
But I do not want the main word of my address today to be "covid", and I do not want it to be the word "lockdown". I want this to be the main association with our country - I want the phrase "for the first time" to always be next to the word "Ukraine".
I will talk about the main things: what was done for the first time and what will happen next.
Despite the global pandemic and the economic crisis caused by this pandemic, we have stabilized the economic situation. In 2021, the size of Ukraine's economy will reach a record high for the first time since independence - more than $ 190 billion. This is more than in the pre-crisis years of 2008 and 2013.
For the first time since 2013, we will reduce public debt to below 50% of GDP. Despite the fact that in recent years in most countries it has grown rapidly and on average in the world exceeds 90%. Our gold and foreign exchange reserves have grown to $ 30 billion today. This is the highest figure since 2013.
For the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, the loan rate for small and medium-sized businesses fell below 10%. Currently, it is an average of 9.7%.
Thanks to the Affordable Loans 5-7-9 program, Ukrainian small and medium-sized businesses received more than 70 billion hryvnias and created thousands of new jobs.
We will soon launch the Ukrainian Dream program, under which every citizen of our country who pays taxes honestly will be able to get a loan at a rate of 5% in hryvnia to buy real estate in a new house, electric car, get education or change profession.
Energy crisis, restrictions on electricity supply, significant increase in tariffs. For the first time, this is not about Ukraine. This is the reality of the whole world, despite which we have managed to maintain stability in the energy sector, curb rising prices for housing and communal services, and even reduce electricity prices for the population.
In 2022, we will begin the "Large Thermo-Modernization". We plan to insulate thousands of high-rise buildings, schools, kindergartens and hospitals. This will allow us to insure against further increases in energy prices and for the first time to gain true energy independence.
Dear MPs, I would like to thank the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine - yesterday we passed a very important tax law № 5600, which increases the rent: the fee for the use of natural resources. We will direct these funds to our children. Therefore, for the first time in history, I will introduce a bill on the economic passport of a Ukrainian by December 10. According to it, these funds - the fee for the use of our subsoil - will be accumulated on the personal accounts of children of Ukrainian citizens. After reaching the age of majority, our children will be able to use this money to get an education in Ukraine or buy their own housing in Ukraine. Thanks to these two laws, our oligarchs will finally become real investors in the future of our children. Congratulations to them. And this will also be the first time since the independence of our state.
As of today, the minimum wage in Ukraine is 6.5 thousand hryvnias. We have not only raised the minimum wage. For the first time in 30 years, the average wage in dollar terms has exceeded $ 500 a month. For the first time, doctors' salaries have doubled in a year.
From the new year, from January 1, it will be at least 20 thousand hryvnias, and the average salary of a doctor in Ukraine will be 24 thousand hryvnias. For the first time, we begin to treat the doctor properly, and not only when we need it. And I am sure that in my next address I will say the same words about the salaries of our teachers.
But it's not just about raising wages. Compared to 2019, the budget for medicine has doubled. For the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, we have fully equipped the fleet of ambulances, 100%. We repaired 600 rural outpatient clinics and more than 200 ER departments. And next year we will begin the reconstruction of 48 regional multidisciplinary clinical hospitals. 24 for adults, 24 for children. As well as 24 rehabilitation centers for our veterans.
I am proud that next year, for the first time since the beginning of the war in the east, we will completely close the queue for apartments for all our veterans of the war in the east. Immediately after the veterans, we will begin the same process for all our servicemen.
I am proud that the whole world applauds Ukrainian military intelligence for the rescue of almost a thousand people in Afghanistan. Glory to Ukraine!
I am proud that for the first time in 30 years in 2022 the funding of the defense and security sector, all programs, will exceed 320 billion hryvnias. Especially given the fact that in 2018 this amount was 191.7 billion hryvnias.
In the framework of these funds, we are launching for the first time a comprehensive missile program, a program to restore the Ukrainian fleet, and the creation of cyber troops in Ukraine.
For the first time since independence, the state is building Antonov An-178 aircraft for its army. For the first time in Ukraine we are starting to build a military plant for the production of modern drones.
For the first time in many years, the National Security and Defense Council has become truly concerned with the security and defense of the state. A state that is independent of thieves in law, smugglers, criminal bosses, agents of other states. Protecting its land, its subsoil, its drinking water, forests and all its strategic enterprises.
We are building a country independent of the help and support of others.
Which is always grateful for this - I thank every country - but never waits just for this, and above all counts on itself. We are not waiting for tens of months from the seizure of Crimea, but we are gathering dozens of countries for its liberation and launching the Crimea Platform.
Its first summit was attended by 46 delegations, leaders of the G7 and the EU: the United States, Germany, France, Turkey, all our friends, the leadership of NATO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. For the first time since 2014, the deoccupation of Crimea was discussed at the highest international level. We have returned Crimea to the world agenda. The Crimea Platform will be enshrined in a UN General Assembly resolution. We are waiting for it to receive the official status of the international organization.
For the first time since the occupation, we are fighting for Crimea not on billboards, but on all international platforms and meetings. Not by slogans, but by official documents. For the first time since 2014, the Strategy of deoccupation and reintegration of Crimea has been developed and approved. The area is 27 thousand square kilometers. Larger than some countries in Europe and the world. But we are not fighting for hectares, we’re fighting for people, for our citizens. And for the first time in history, we passed a law on indigenous peoples, which consolidated the status and rights of Crimean Tatars. We are fighting for our youth and have significantly simplified access to higher education in Ukraine for schoolchildren from Crimea and the temporarily occupied Donbas: without external testing, free of charge, without restrictions, without any conditions at any university. We are fighting for the temporarily occupied consciousness of our citizens, so we launched a broadcast for the temporarily occupied territories. This is our land. Our goal is to release it.
No one will do it for us. This is our philosophy.
This year, we have maintained the bipartisan support of the United States and taken our relationship to a new, higher level.
Following my meeting with President Biden, a Joint Statement was adopted. Military support. The Charter of Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and the United States has been updated. At the heart of our relations with the European Union is trust, solidarity and mutual support. This is evidenced by the results of the 23rd EU-Ukraine Summit and its ambitious final statement. Our goal is to implement the Association Agreement. According to government estimates, about 60% of all Ukraine's commitments under the Agreement have been fulfilled, with 25% this year alone. Thank you, dear people’s deputies.
We prove every day that we are able not only to cooperate effectively with NATO in Alliance operations and exercises - cooperation in the Black Sea, the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade - but also to defend democracy, freedom and our own state with weapons in hands.
For the first time, together with the United Kingdom, we are implementing an ambitious project to develop the Ukrainian Navy worth £ 1.7 billion.
We are already building the first corvette for our Navy with Turkey.
For the first time, four large-scale agreements with France worth € 1.3 billion have been signed for major investment projects.
We have achieved important results in cooperation with our partners: the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD and other international institutions totaling more than $ 2.7 billion.
For the first time, we have invited EU leaders to create a regional platform to strengthen energy security. The urgency of this initiative is confirmed by the current energy crisis in Europe. We consistently prove that Nord Stream 2 is an energy weapon that poses a threat to the entire region. We are grateful to all partners who support us.
An important component of our international policy is to support Ukrainians in the world. I know how important the issue of multiple citizenship is for Ukrainians living in the United States, Canada, and the EU. Today I am submitting the relevant bill to the Parliament. There are 65 million of us.
For the first time Ukrainians all over the world will feel not like a diaspora or just people of "Ukrainian origin", but like people of Ukrainian citizenship! Equal Ukrainians.
And this is also part of independence, when people with equal rights drive on smooth roads.
In 30 years, Ukrainians have become great drivers, learning to bypass potholes on the roads. For the first time in history, the opposition has criticized the government for building roads and bridges. Special criticism of the "Large Construction" comes from those who at their time in power could not make either medium or small construction. And they drove on the roads with holes, leaving the same holes in the budget.
Everyone thought that good roads and Ukraine are antonyms. We have proved that they have become synonymous. We have already built 13,000 kilometers of roads. But there can’t be too many quality roads, so the goal for the next two years is not reduced - it's 15 thousand kilometers of roads.
Another important area is the national bridge reconstruction program. 560 bridges and overpasses have already been built and renovated within it, including the legendary bridge in Zaporizhzhia, which was unfinished for 15 years. Over the next two years, we plan to connect the shores across our Ukraine with another 810 bridges and overpasses, including the Kremenchuh and Yampil bridges.
Independence must be felt in the air. That is why we are creating a Ukrainian national air carrier. For the first time in many years, the carrier will be able to fly to our new regional airports that we are building. In total, we are currently building them in 16 cities of Ukraine. We also want to build an airport of international importance in Zakarpattia, between Uzhhorod and Mukachevo - this is a new project, and two airports in eastern Ukraine. Because Donbas is Ukraine.
The first flight of the national carrier will take place in 2022. By 2025, the company's fleet will be fully formed - at least 20 aircraft. Regular flights will be launched both inside and outside.
The Ukrainian carrier should be seen not only in Ukraine, but also all over the world. And this will be greatly helped by the open skies agreement, the visa-free air travel, which we have finally signed with the European Union. Therefore, UNA will definitely land in the EU. And such big plans really inspire.
Independence is a natural driving force of every person. Therefore, we will launch 10 new Intercity + trains, 80 new electric trains and almost 500 new modern Ukrainian-made sleeping cars.
An independent country is where you will be healthy, regardless of your social status. To do this, we launched the Healthy Ukraine program for the first time, within which we have already built 600 activity parks, 900 sports grounds, 193 stadiums and 25 swimming pools.
There are 9,000 sports grounds ahead and the beginning of the state program - 19 ice arenas, hundreds of CYSS and sports boarding schools, new sports palaces. They will become our new places of strength and health of the nation, health of our future - our children.
We have set clear goals from the very beginning. Driving children to schools and kindergartens must take no more than 30 minutes on a quality road. Everything must be clear, modern, and meet all international standards. And more and more such new schools and kindergartens must be built every day. So far we are building, maybe not too much, but more than 150 kindergartens. There will be another 300. 200 new schools have been built. There will be another 300.
For the first time in many years we started to build our domestic locomotives and wagons in Kremenchuh. For the first time in many years, we began to build our modern Ukrainian tanks in Kharkiv. And this construction is really big and is getting bigger every day. Infrastructure is new jobs, a new quality of life for everyone.
An independent country is a smart country. Educated. That is why a strong country is impossible with a weak education. We support talented students. New state and presidential prizes have been introduced: UAH 100,000 to the winners of international student competitions in mathematics, physics, computer science and chemistry. This year, for the first time, we are awarding prizes not only to the students, but also to the teachers who trained these champions. Graduates with the highest external testing score receive UAH 10,000 per month. 250 students. 10 best from each region of Ukraine. And for us, each region of Ukraine is the best.
This year we have increased student scholarships to the subsistence level. At the same time, we will not reduce the number of scholarship holders. It is very important.
This year we have provided more than 60,000 teachers with laptops, and by 2023 every teacher in our country will have a new laptop!
For the first time for the state, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, aerospace, energy and biotechnology are not just clever words, but priority programs of study at the Presidential University, which we are beginning to create.
Two years ago, the National Research Foundation was established. This is a grant support for science. In two years, 222 research projects received about 1 billion hryvnias. These are scientific developments involving more than 1,500 leading and young Ukrainian scientists.
For the first time in many years we are restoring the scientific fleet of Ukraine. Imagine, the last voyage of a Ukrainian scientific ship in the World Ocean took place 20 years ago, and in the Black Sea - 10 years ago. We've got two ships this year - not many, but we got them! This is the ship "Boris Alexandrov", which will perform scientific and environmental research in the Black Sea, and the icebreaker "Noosphere" to explore the World Ocean, as well as to carry out our expeditions to the Ukrainian Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica.
Our independence is an opportunity to remember and cherish our past, being confident in the future. We are finally building the Babyn Yar Memorial Complex, and next year we will complete the construction of the Holodomor Memorial Complex. Shared memory, shared pain is what unites us and makes us stronger.
And the bearers of this memory are people of respectable age. Some will say that it is correct to say "elderly people". No! For everything they really did, it is right to say "people of respectable age."
I am ashamed that we have done too little for them all these years. For some it is just the main electorate, and for me it is people who have given their whole lives for the benefit of Ukraine, for the benefit of our state. Therefore, one of my key priorities is caring for people of respectable age. In particular, we have already implemented a program of additional payments to pensions for people aged 80 and 75. Next year, we will extend this program to people who have reached the age of 70.
We clearly comply with our commitment in respect of the annual indexation of pensions. Thus, since March 2021, the pensions of 7.9 million pensioners have been indexed.
For the first time in many years, pensions for liquidators and victims of the Chornobyl disaster have been significantly increased.
For the first time in all years of independence, we have agreed on the parameters of a reliable mandatory funded pension system, which will allow us to save money for a decent old age. In the near future, the parliament will consider a relevant bill. Dear deputies, especially deputies of respectable age, I count on you.
For the first time, we have introduced a comprehensive approach to solving the problems of people who face various barriers. These are people with disabilities from childhood, the amount of care allowance has been increased for them; these are low-income families, for which the amount of benefits has increased by 50% equaling UAH 5,500; these are also children who have suffered from explosive objects - they have been provided with assistance for the first time; these are also people who have suffered from domestic violence - for the first time a subvention has been introduced to create shelters for them; this includes families with children; fathers who for the first time got the right to go on leave to care for newborns. We have increased state aid for children with serious illnesses. All these are features of a country with a European face. Or, more simply, a country with a human face.
The same goes for the digital country. Independence is a digital freedom from bureaucracy, queues and corruption. And more than 11 million users of our state application "Diia" have already seen this.
Ukraine became the first country in the world to introduce a digital passport of a citizen of its state. We've introduced a digital driver's license that allows you to travel or open a bank account online.
“Diia” includes a digital student ID, a car insurance, an electronic signature on a smartphone, a digital tax number, payment of taxes and fines and much more.
This is not an imaginary metaworld - these are real services that help real citizens in real time. Already today, now, 24/7.
And today, a residence registration is added to these functions - that is, the ability to change residence registration online.
In the 21st century, people can move freely around the country, regardless of passport stamps. "Diia" is first and foremost a social application for all citizens. Now it is not the woman in the office who will be able to assign or transfer the pension to our esteemed people, but the grandson on the sofa. We are already starting the launch of this feature, and "Diia" will cover all Ukrainians, regardless of age.
Independence is the opportunity to do business independently, honestly and transparently in an independent state. Business opening services in Ukraine will be the fastest in the world. You can already open a sole proprietor in 10 minutes. See and fill out a tax declaration, pay taxes.
We are building our own business, independent of the "wishes" of officials, which takes into account all the wishes of businessmen. To do this, we will finally launch "Diia City", which will allow Ukraine to create the most powerful IT hub in Central and Eastern Europe. Ukrainians and entrepreneurs from all over the world will be able to quickly implement the most ambitious innovative and business ideas and implement them effectively. In five years, "Diia City" will help double the size of the IT market - up to $ 11.8 billion, and increase the number of jobs up to 450 thousand. These will be some of the best conditions for running an IT business and creative industry in the world.
There are plans to launch important functions soon: an e-census, which will later lead to an e-voting. At the heart of our transformation is the people, and we need to know how many of us are there, where we live.
I am proud that Ukraine will be the second country in the world to conduct a census in cooperation with Apple in February 2023.
Our goal is that Ukrainians can get 100% of the state's services online - without officials, without queues, without corruption.
But the fight against corruption is both a fair and independent court. Judicial reform in Ukraine. There is nothing to be proud of here yet. We are just beginning this difficult path. We only voted for the first two laws. I thank every deputy who supported the laws on the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges. Thank you.
This is not the first time that judicial reform has been launched in Ukraine, but it will be completed for the first time. I thank all the deputies once again for their support of the bills, and I would also like to thank our international partners who support us on this difficult path. Thanks. And this path will be really difficult.
For the first time in 30 years, land reform has been fully voted on. I congratulate you! For the first time in 30 years we are starting a full-scale arrangement of the state border around the perimeter of our state. Finally, we passed the law on territorial defense, we approved the Strategy for the deoccupation of Crimea.
For the first time in 30 years, we have started a systematic fight against the oligarchs. And I am confident that Ukraine will win this fight. Ukraine will end with this.
But I do not want to end my speech with this topic - about the oligarchs. I don't want to talk about small things at the end. I want to say about the main thing: about the state in its true colours, non-expurgated, to speak to you absolutely frankly, honestly, because that's how we were elected, because that's what we were, and I want to believe that we remain so.
We must speak openly, in spite of all difficulties, tell the truth as it is, which we could tell or still can, I want to believe that.
And then - let's be honest. The war in Donbas has been going on for eight years. Eight years since Russia annexed Crimea. And I'm not afraid to tell that to everyone and tell that directly to Russians. That is why, at the same time, I am not afraid to talk to them directly. We are not afraid of direct dialogue.
We know which European countries support Ukraine, it is true, and we thank them. We know which European countries pretend to support Ukraine and our independence.
We know that our army is the best in the world and it will protect us. Everyone supports us, but no one but our army will protect us. It's true. And we must admit that without our army we will not be able to stop the war. And we must tell the truth that we will not be able to stop the war without direct talks with Russia. And today it has been recognized by all, all external partners. All external partners have acknowledged that, and some internal partners still do not. We must speak, knowing that we have a strong, powerful army. And we must not be afraid to tell each other the truth now. If we want to return Donbas - let's do so. And if we just want to talk about it, let's do nothing.
And let's put an end to this issue, simply and honestly. And let's finally understand - this is our state, let's fight for it, for our territories, by all means, all together with all politicians, regardless of the color of these politicians. And with all businessmen, regardless of their caliber, it's not too late.
We are a great country!
Glory to each of you!
Glory to Ukraine!