Volodymyr Zelensky’s Inaugural Address: full text

Today Volodymyr  Zelensky has officially become president of Ukraine. During the inauguration ceremony, he took an oath to the people of Ukraine, after which he addressed the deputies. EMPR publishes the full text of his speech.

Dear Ukrainians!

After my election victory, my six-year-old son said: “Dad! They say on television that “Zelensky is President …”It means that … I … am also the President?!” Then it sounded like a joke, but later I realized that it was actually true.

Because each of us is President. Not the 73 percent who voted for me, but all 100 percent of Ukrainians. The victory is not mine, it is our common victory. And this is our mutual chance. For which we are jointly responsible. And just now – not only I have taken the oath. Each of us has put our hand on the Constitution and each of us has sworn allegiance to Ukraine.

Imagine loud headlines: “The president does not pay taxes,” “The president runs a red light under the influence,” “The president steals secretly, because “everyone does it.”Do you agree that this is a shame? This is what I mean when I say that each of us is the President. “From now on, each of us is responsible for the country we leave for our children.” Every one of us, in our place, will be able to do everything for the prosperity of Ukraine.”The European country begins with everyone.

We have chosen a path to Europe, but Europe is not somewhere there. Europe is here (in the head). And when it is here – then it will also be here – all over Ukraine. And this is our common dream.

But we also have a common pain. Each of us died in Donbas. Every day we lose each of us. And each of us is an IDP. Those who lost their own home … And those who opened a door of their own house, sharing the pain. And each of us is a migrant laborer. Those who did not find themselves at home but found a way to earn money in a foreign country…

Those who, struggling with poverty, are forced to lose their dignity. But we will overcome it all! Because each of us is a Ukrainian.

We are all Ukrainians: there are no bigger or smaller, right or wrong. From Uzhhorod to Luhansk. From Chernihiv to Simferopol. In Lviv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipro and Odesa, we are Ukrainians.

And we have to be one. After all, only then we are strong. And today I appeal to all Ukrainians in the world. We are 65 million. Yes, do not be surprised – we are 65 million. Those who were born on the Ukrainian land.

Ukrainians in Europe and Asia, in North and South America, Australia and Africa. I appeal to all Ukrainians on the planet! We really need you. I will gladly grant Ukrainian citizenship to all who are ready to build a new, strong and successful Ukraine. You must go to Ukraine not to visit, but to return home.

We are waiting for you. We do not need any souvenirs from abroad; please bring your knowledge, experience and mental values. All this will help us start a new era. Skeptics will say: it is incredible. It is impossible. But maybe this is our national idea? To unite and do the impossible. In spite of everything!

Remember the Icelandic football team at the European Championship. When a dentist, director, pilot, student and cleaner fought and defended the honor of their country. And they did it, although nobody believed.

And this is our path. We must become Icelanders in football, Israelis in defending our native land, Japanese in technology, Swiss in our ability to live happily with each other, despite any differences.

And our first task is to achieve ceasefire in Donbas. I was often asked: What are you ready for to achieve ceasefire? Strange question. And what are you ready for when it comes to the life of your dearest and nearest?

I can assure – in order to prevent deaths of our heroes, I am ready for everything. And I am definitely not afraid to make complicated decisions, I am ready to lose my popularity, my ratings, and if I have to, I am ready to lose my position without hesitation, if only it will help achieve peace. Without losing our territories.

History is an unfair thing. We did not start this war. But we have to finish this war.

And we are ready for dialogue. “I’m convinced that for this dialogue to start, we must see the return of all Ukrainian prisoners.

Our next challenge is returning the lost territories. In all honesty, this wording does not seem entirely correct to me because it is impossible to return what has always been ours. Both Crimea and Donbas have been our Ukrainian land, but the land where we have lost the most important thing — the people.

Today we have to return their minds — that’s what we have lost. Over the years, the authorities have not done anything to make them feel Ukrainians and understand that they are not strangers, but they are our people, they are Ukrainians.  And even if they are granted 10 different passports, it won’t change anything. For being Ukrainian is not a line in the passport — being Ukrainian is here.

I know that for sure. I know that from the soldiers who are now defending Ukraine, our heroes, some of whom are Ukrainian-speakers, while others — Russian-speakers. There, in the frontline, there is no strife and discord, there is only courage and honor. So, I want to appeal to our defenders now:

There can be no strong army in a place where the authorities do not respect the people who every day sacrifice their life for the country. I will do everything I can to make you feel respect. This means decent, and most importantly, secure salaries, living conditions, vocation leaves after the combat missions and your and your families’ holidays.

We must not just talk about NATO standards — we must create those standards.

Of course, besides the war, there are many other problems that trouble Ukrainians. Among them are the shocking utility tariffs, humiliating wages and pensions, painful prices and non-existent jobs.

There is also the health care that is seen as improving mostly by those who have never been to a regular hospital with their child.

And then, there are also the mythical Ukrainian roads that are being built and repaired only in someone’s prolific imagination.

Allow me to quote one American actor who has become a great American president: “The government does not solve our problems. The government is our problem.” 

I do not understand our government that only shrugs and says: “There is nothing we can do.”  Not true. You can.

You can take a sheet of paper and a pen and free your seats for those who will think about the next generations instead of the next election! Do it and people will appreciate that.

Your applause is pretty light…I guess not everyone likes what I’m saying? Too bad, since it’s not me, but the Ukrainian people who is saying that. My election proves that our citizens are tired of the experienced, pompous system politicians who over the 28 years, have created a country of opportunities — the opportunities to bribe, steal and pluck the resources.

We will build the country of other opportunities — the one where all are equal before the law and where all the rules are honest and transparent, the same for everyone. And for that, we need people in power who will serve the people.

This is why I really do not want my pictures in your offices, for the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.

I can go on, but Ukrainians wants actions, not words.

So, dear deputies!

You have appointed the inauguration on Monday, a work day, which has one benefit – it means you are ready to work. Therefore, I ask that you approve:

The law on removing parliamentary immunity.

The law establishing criminal liability for illegal enrichment.

The long-awaited Electoral Code and open-lists.

Also, please dismiss:

Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.

Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

Minister of Defense of Ukraine.

This is certainly not all that you could do, but for now, it will suffice. You will have two months to do that. Do it. And take all the medals for it — not a bad move before the snap parliamentary election.

I am dissolving the Verkhovna Rada of the eighth convocation.

Glory to Ukraine!

And finally:

Dear Nation!

All my life I tried to do all I could so that Ukrainians laughed. That was my mission. Now I will do all I can so that Ukrainians at least do not cry any more.



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