December 5, 2019
Dobriy den [Good day].
So, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here with you today for this 8th annual assembly of civil society in Ukraine. This is a great opportunity for us and a great opportunity for you.
So eight years ago when you started there were, I understand, about 450 people in this room and now there are 2,700 people in this room.
The United States is very pleased to co-sponsor this with other donors, and USAID has been a major force of support for civil society in Ukraine.
Ten thousand people – 10,000 people – have benefited from the kind of work that you are doing, the kind of training, the kind of support that you provide to them.
Civil society is a vital voice in the society and [for] the opportunities to make changes here in Ukraine, changes that we’re seeing today like we’ve not seen before.
Civil society faces challenges. It’s not all good. There are challenges to you, you face every day.
We all know of the challenges, we all know of the threats to activists, we all know of the attacks on activists. These are, of course, unacceptable. These need to be investigated. These need to stop.
The other big challenge, of course, is financial. Financial sustainability. And this is a problem that all civil society organizations around the world face.
But this administration – and the Minister described some of the opportunities and challenges, as well as plans for support, for civil society and youth. This is a new time for Ukraine.
Minister, you mentioned “assertiveness.” This is a great word. And assertiveness for civil society is an important component, an important characteristic of youth and civil society. This is a great concept.
So, I had an opportunity, like many of you here today, to go around to some of the booths that demonstrate what civil society is doing, what volunteer groups are doing.
They are assertive, Minister. I was able to buy one of the products here that I will give to Roman. Thank you, Roman.
But the other thing I would like to announce here today is that USAID is beginning a five-year $10 million program – Minister, along the lines that you have outlined – to support civil society. This $10 million program will be implemented by Ednannia that is represented right here in the front of the room.
Ednannia is working closely, in a consortium, with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research and the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law.
So on behalf of the United States government, I wish you great success. Minister, I wish you great success. Ednannia, I’m glad that you are working on this. This is a great opportunity for you today.
Thank you very much. Duzhe dyakyu.