Prime Minister Promotes Canadian Values on Historic Visit to Ukraine
Promotes Human Rights, Democratic Development and Holodomor in Ukraine
October 30, 2010-Winnipeg, Manitoba-The Ukrainian Canadian Congress congratulated the Prime Minister on a successful trip to Ukraine and for his commitment to human rights, democratic development and free and fair elections in Ukraine as expressed during his recent official visit to Kyiv and L’viv, Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress wishes to thank Prime Minister Harper for travelling to Ukraine and for sharing our community’s views on its concerns with the current political situation in Ukraine. The Congress was please to provide input into the development of the Prime Minister’s itinerary and messaging which were impactful on both the government and people of Ukraine,” stated UCC National President Paul Grod. “The Prime Minister spoke with conviction and authority to the government of Ukraine. He underscored our long friendship but insisted that friends must be able to speak honestly with one another in addressing concerns about local elections, Ukraine’s democratic development and eroding freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and clampdowns on media and academics.”
“This Prime Minister promoted Canadian values in Ukraine and stepped up when the Ukrainian Canadian community was looking to him for statesmanship. Prime Minister Harper has made a lasting contribution to Ukraine’s democratic development and reconfirmed Canada’s leadership on the world stage. The Ukrainian Canadian Congresswill continue to work with the Prime Minister and the government of Canada to ensurethat Canada remains vigilant in supporting democracy and human rights in Ukraine.”
In Kyiv, Prime Minister Harper met with President Yanukovych, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Lytvyn, Prime Minister Azarov and Opposition Leader Yulia Tymoshenko. In all instances, Canada’s positions were addressed professionally and forcefully. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Ukrainian government to promote Youth Mobility and enhance people to people interaction between Canada and Ukraine.
“Hats off to all the Canadian journalist who travelled with the Prime Minister for providing the Ukrainian media a lesson in independent journalism. They posed tough questions to both Prime Minister Harper and President Yanukovych, investigated the various human rights violations and addressed the difficult issues facing Ukraine,” said Grod. “The Canadian media were an outstanding example of the value of a free mass media, and something that we hope to see in Ukraine soon.”
“In addition to the working meetings with government leaders, Prime Minister Harper acknowledged the horror of the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33 at the Holodomor memorial and the tragic events at Babyn Yar,” stated Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij. “This was not a case of a politician going through the motions – the Prime Minister was deeply touched at the monument commemorating the millions of Ukrainians who perished during the Holodomor, and expressed the solidarity of Canadians with the longstanding struggles of the Ukrainian people against the Soviet and Nazi totalitarian regimes,” said Czolij.
In L’viv, the Prime Minister visited St. George Cathedral, the Memorial Museum Dedicated to victims of Occupying Regimes “Tyiurma na Lontskoho” and spoke at the Ukrainian Catholic University. At “Tyiurma na Lontskoho” the Prime Minister wrote the following in the book of the Memorial Museum Dedicated to Victims of Occupying Regimes:
“This is a grim and moving symbol of Ukraine’s oppression. It is important that the terrible things here not be forgotten or repeated. We are reminded that the heart can be broken, the body can be destroyed but the spirit of the oppressed is eternal and grows stronger.”
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has advocated for a strategy by the government of Canada to engage Ukraine and the visit by Prime Minister Harper is an important step in this process. The Congress strategy for Engaging Ukraine will be further discussed and elaborated at the Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians which is taking place in Edmonton, Alberta, from November 5-7, 2010.
Additional news releases and photos of Prime Minister Harper’s official visit are available at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress website at www.ucc.ca.