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Plenary Statement at the Copenhagen Conference on Reform in Ukraine by Minister Cannon T.D.

I am delighted to be here today to contribute to this important dialogue. I would like to thank the governments of Ukraine and Denmark for convening this conference. We must continue to acknowledge the progress that Ukraine has made in its reform programme. It is also an opportune moment to demonstrate the international community’s continued commitment to securing Ukraine’s long term future.

Together with the Association Agreement, the government’s reform programme provides a roadmap for Ukraine on its path to becoming a modern democracy. In the past year, and despite difficult challenges, Ukraine has made welcome progress on this journey, particularly in the areas of public governance and social reform.

Ireland channels its support to Ukraine through multilateral fora such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the EU. As part of a review of its diplomatic network, the Irish government has formally decided to establish a resident Embassy in Ukraine in the coming two years. This will enhance our political and economic relations and help to identify areas where we can provide targeted support to Ukraine.

Tackling corruption in all its guises lies at the heart of the reform effort. An independent, impartial judiciary is crucial in developing respect for, and trust in, the rule of law. I welcome the recent progress made on the establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court. We encourage Ukraine to continue to engage with experts, such as those at the Venice Commission, to ensure that the judicial system reaches the highest international standards. Ireland continues to actively support efforts in this area. The Irish judiciary has provided training on judicial ethics to their Ukrainian counterparts and subsequently hosted a study trip to Dublin in cooperation with the EU Advisory Mission. We are open to further structured cooperation in this important area.

All of us in this room have direct experience of the challenges inherent in introducing necessary reforms; we understand that change is often difficult and rarely popular. That is why successful reform programmes need to be underpinned by strong political commitment and resolve. Reforms also require the acceptance and forbearance of those who will be the ultimate beneficiaries – the citizens.

Change is never achieved overnight. Despite the remarkable progress to date, there is still much more to be done. As the elections approach, it is vital that the Government avoids any retrograde measures or backward steps. It must ensure that momentum is maintained, and indeed accelerated, under the current Reform Action Plan.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Ireland remains unwavering in our support of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and is fully committed to supporting Ukraine in its continued efforts to implement political, economic and social reforms for the benefit of the country and its citizens.

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