Victor Yushchenko: 'Our first task is to fight corruption in government'

From a speech by the president of Ukraine, given on the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution, in Independence Square, Kiev
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The Independent Online

I am proud that we are celebrating the first anniversary of our freedom. Only free people could gather in this square and find ways to settle the conflict that usually ends in civil wars in many countries. Most Ukrainian citizens regard Ukraine as their motherland: The events here in Independence Square helped millions of people to confirm their national identity.

Our major achievement has been to win freedom of speech. I am sure that very soon the press will really become the fourth branch of power. As head of state, I want journalists to be our partners. The Orange Revolution has helped protect people's right to elect their government. The campaign in next year's parliamentary elections will be fair and transparent from its first day. State offices, state institutions, computers and cars will not serve any political force.

There have been many social accomplishments in the past nine months. The Government has created 830,000 jobs, helping us achieve the lowest unemployment rate in Ukraine's history. We have made the term of military service shorter, and in 25 days we will withdraw our peacekeepers from Iraq. We are working to join the European Union, and at a summit on December 1, Ukraine is expected to gain market economy status and liberalized visa requirements for our citizens.

Among the major tasks ahead of us, we should first of all fight corruption. The Government has a clear plan to fight this evil through staff rotation. It also plans to revise regulatory acts and to repeal paid services at state agencies. Judicial reforms will also help us to fulfil these promises.

On educational reform, the government's task is to make higher education available and affordable for all school graduates. Those who win in education will win in the world.

I urge all citizens of Ukraine to never forget one in particular of our revolutionary values: "United we cannot be divided." Unity helped us defend our rights, and we must ensure that these values will be inherited by future leaders of our country.