Ambassador Nepop said the National Day is always a good occasion to sum up achievements and to define further goals, although at present these things were being gained despite the fact that almost every day Ukraine’s soldiers die from Russian bullets. Only the previous day one Ukrainian soldier had died and three had been wounded.

Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014 and has been fomenting unrest by militarily backing separatist forces in eastern Ukraine since then. The ambassador said Ukraine’s achievements today are despite 7 per cent of its territory – Crimea and part of Donbas – still being occupied by Russia, and 20% of the Ukrainian economy having been stolen or destroyed by the aggressor.

She said Ukrainian political prisoners remain in Russian jails, with Oleg Sentsov, Volodymyr Balukh and Oleksandr Shymkov continuing hunger strikes that have lasted for more than 100 days. Ambassador Nepop asked the many guests at the reception to commemorate all Ukrainian victims of Russia’s continuing aggression with a minute of silence.

The ambassador had opened her remarks by saying she is proud to be able to say that her country is showing serious results in reforms, in implementing the European and Euro-Atlantic integration course. Recently the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, had initiated the enshrining of these goals in the Constitution to make the integration course irreversible.

# Ukrainian Ambassador to Hungary Liubov Nepop

"At our reception you will see the exhibition ‘Yaroslav the Wise: Diplomacy through Dynastic Marriages’," Ambassador Nepop said. "It shows connection between Ukraine, Hungary, France, Norway and Sweden on example of the family of Kyiv Prince Yaroslav the Wise, who governed in the 11th century. The exhibition shows our common history, and I’m sure that our future should and will be also common."

"We continue our fight against the Russian aggressor, making our contribution to such a common future based on democratic values and principles. And we count on your solidarity with us in this fight."

"The Russian aggression continues since 2014 and we still don’t see the will of Russia to stop it. We need to stay united when we speak about sanctions against Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine."

"We have to be united to prevent building politically motivated pipelines like North Stream II or prolongation of the Turkish Stream. We need to be united to prevent the further using of the Russian church by Moscow as a political weapon to keep Ukraine under its influence."

The ambassador said that, yes, Ukraine is still vulnerable as it is under aggression, but it is not weak any more. "The Russian aggression taught us that if somebody attacks you, speaks with language of force and ultimatums, you have to do everything to become stronger to be able to defend yourself."

"Today we are much stronger, much more ready to defend our country and our national interests. We thank all our partners, including Hungary, in supporting us. We continue counting on you. And you can count on us."

Ambassador Nepop thanked the guests for their attendance. Independence Day is the main state holiday in Ukraine, celebrated each 24 August in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence of 1991.


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