Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (24 August) on the Independence Day of Ukraine:
26 years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence. On 24 August 1991, Ukraine’s members of parliament voted by a large majority for a free, independent and sovereign state of Ukraine.
I warmly congratulate all Ukrainian women and men on their Independence Day.
Germany has always closely cooperated with and supported Ukraine. This year, we’ve already celebrated the 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. We followed the Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan with great empathy. We very much welcome that Ukraine has professed its commitment to our shared European values of democracy, the rule of law and freedom. Since then, much has been achieved in terms of reform, although more steps need to be taken. As of June, Ukrainian citizens are permitted to travel to the EU without a visa. This is a cause for joy.
At the same time, we must note that our common dream of widespread peace after the end of the Cold War did not become a reality. This is particularly true for people in Ukraine. We stand firmly by your side. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine are non-negotiable. We will not recognise Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Only yesterday, the sides to the conflict in eastern Ukraine agreed on a ceasefire for the start of the new school year. We greatly welcome this. It is my hope for the people there that this agreement will be more than mere lip service, considering so many similar ones have not held long in the past. People in eastern Ukraine finally need to see genuine progress on implementation of the Minsk agreements.
All Ukrainians deserve to live a self-determined life – in peace, security and freedom. Slava Ukraini!