Our twenty-seventh year of Independence is a special period of global history, the Year of Nelson Mandela. So I would like to speak today more about people, emphasizing how important for our world is humans and humanity. I would like to speak about Ukrainians who make the history of today, who change our history.
Oscar-winning animator of the Disney Studio Volodymyr Titla; a talented geneticist who developed the theory of Darwin, Theodosius Dobzhansky; scientist-mathematician, whose developments formed the basis of the world's first computer, Mikhail Kravchuk; the daughter of a Lviv banker who invented the principle of Wi-Fi, Gedi Lamar; North American legendary goalkeeper Terry Sawchuk; Kharkiv resident, who successfully decoded ancient Mayan writing, Yuriy Knorozov.
Ukraine is our people. I have to mention the Ukrainian army, which endures 5th Independence Day at war. The army over the past four years has finally become a force to be reckoned with.
Yes, Ukraine is our people. Today I have to mention a very special category of Ukrainians. While most Ukrainians will be free to celebrate 27 years of the country’s independence on Aug. 24, at least 183 Ukrainians are paying a high price for their compatriots’ liberty: They are being held in prisons in Russia, Russian-annexed Crimea, and Russian-occupied parts of the Donbas.
Meanwhile, some of Ukraine’s political prisoners have become symbols of resistance to the Kremlin regime — even though it may ultimately cost them their lives. And we have to mention them now and here – in the Nelson Mandela's year celebrating on South African land, where the great son of humanity and the great fighter for human rights was born.
For Ukraine this year is also highly prominent. In 2018 we celebrate the centenary of the independence of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the hundredth anniversary of the unification of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Western Ukrainian People's Republic that meant the beginning of a single Ukrainian congregation.
Now it's a history, but what about today? Today Kyiv has really become a very important center of the world diplomatic map. The intensity of contacts with our key partners only grows as well as the genuine interest in deepening the partnership with Ukraine. Global business giants are willing to bet on Ukraine and our links with the world become stronger and more fruitful.
Here in South Africa, we are developing constructive and fair diplomatic dialogue. We are happy to plan the next political consultations later on this year in Pretoria. We’ve developed quite wide legal basis consisted of 18 bilateral documents. This year we have signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Agency of Fisheries of Ukraine and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Republic of South Africa concerning the Scheme of International Scientific Observation of the Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
We have a number of successful joint projects with SA, one of them is a construction by the Ukrainian state-owned shipbuilding enterprise “Pallada” of a composite floating dry dock for one of Africa’s largest and internationally-recognized ship repair companies – the South African Southey Holdings Ltd. We are looking forward to continued mutually beneficial cooperation with SA side in this project.
We work together to promote and strengthen cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of South Africa in the spheres of trade, agriculture, space, aviation, nuclear energy, shipbuilding, etc.
The events of the Ukrainian Association in SA become more and more popular among native South Africans. From year to year Ukrainian writers take part in South African festivals, next week Zulu poet will participate in one of the biggest cultural events in Ukraine – Lviv Book Forum Festival. So, you see, our cultural ties are getting tight.
By concluding I’d like to say that nevertheless, Ukraine is still vulnerable, because of Russian aggression, it is no longer weak. I am convinced that peace, harmony, and prosperity will come to our home called Ukraine.
Happiness and prosperity to a free, independent, united Ukraine and to South Africa!