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16.09.2017

14th YES Annual Meeting: the headlines from day one

President Poroshenko and YES founder Victor Pinchuk open the day’s discussion – calling for the return of territorial integrity and unity and solidarity in the face of aggression

Kyiv, Ukraine, 15th September 2017: 350 Heads of State, politicians, economists, thinkers, and business leaders gathered at the historic Mystetsky Arsenal in Kyiv, to mark the opening of the 14th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting.

Day one of the event focused on the increased geo-political tensions involving Russia and North Korea, the global economy and the importance of a stable Ukraine to Europe during volatile times. Attendees heard from a number of high profile speakers including President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, former UK prime minister, David Cameron, former US Secretaries of State, John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suma Chakrabarti, 50th Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich and philosopher and writer, Bernard-Henri Levy, among others.

Opening the summit, Victor Pinchuk, founder and member of the board of YES, said “nobody knows the rules of the new world. Solutions from 10 years ago won’t work today”. Pinchuk continued “YES was created to connect Ukraine to Europe and the rest of the world. Ukraine needs European strategy to transform Ukraine. We need Yalta strategy to re-establish international law by returning territorial integrity.”

“At the end of the main Jewish holiday, Jews say: ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ This tradition comes from the time when Jews did not have their own state and they did not know when they would return to Jerusalem but they never lost their belief. I have a suggestion. Let us establish our tradition to say at the end of the conference: ‘Next year in Yalta.’ And, meanwhile, let us try to find a pragmatic way of how to get there,” he said.

Pinchuk then gave way for Poroshenko who echoed Pinchuk’s hopes for connecting Ukraine to the rest of Europe and countries across the globe. “The choice is clear, the path to victory is unity and solidarity. Disagreements are what our opponents are waiting for. I share the vision of Jean-Claude Juncker of a stronger, more united European Union that is capable of responding to the challenges of the 21st century.”

“In the occupation of Crimea, attacks in Donbas, endless cyber attacks, attempts to influence western voting, the Kremlin is trying to establish its own world order. History teaches us that Russia cannot be trusted. The Kremlin refuses to recognise its crimes so we need to stay united” Poroshenko continued before praising the US for its leadership in maintaining strong sanctions against Russia.

Poroshenko then praised the progress made within Ukraine to eliminate corruption at all levels before welcoming the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU and NATO in the future.

“Definitely, the situation with corruption has significantly improved. If you take any sphere of corruption, for example, energy and the purchase of gas from Russia. For almost two years, we have not bought a single cubic metre from Russia. We launched an efficient VAT refund mechanism. Yesterday, when I had a meeting with the business community, there was a completely different mood," Poroshenko said.

“Our historic place is in the united European family and the transatlantic western alliance. Our vocation is to become the eastern border of the European civilisation. We are heading towards Ukraine’s full membership of the EU and NATO”

Some of the other headlines coming out of the day’s debates were:

“The western response to Russian aggression to Georgia was weak and the Kremlin took strength from that. The entire Minsk process needs a restart as it doesn’t work.”

David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“Ukrainians should not lose faith in returning to Crimea and should find pragmatic ways to achieve this.”

Victor Pinchuk, founder and member of the board of YES

“The sanctions against Russia will not be lifted in the near future, but the country’s full isolation should not be hoped for either.”

Condoleezza Rice, 66th US Secretary of State,

“It is strategically important to ensure gas transit not just for economic reasons but for containing Russia’s further aggression against Ukraine. Ukraine needs to carry out a full-scale reform and involve European partners in the management of its gas transport system.”

Andriy Kobolyev, CEO of Naftogaz Ukrayiny

“Ukraine should move towards sustainable development, and the last impediments to investment have to be removed. Ukraine cannot postpone reforms any longer as changes are needed right now.”

President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suma Chakrabarti

“The decision by the US Congress to impose sanctions on Russia was a mistake.”

Robert Gates, former US Secretary of Defense

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