1. Ukraine’s economy is growing.
Ukraine’s economy grew in the second quarter of 2018 at a 3.8% annual rate. This marks the tenth straight quarter of growth that is a clearly sustainable trend. The GDP increase was helped by macroeconomic stabilization, improved investment climate and clean-up of the banking sector. Ukraine is demonstrating the best dynamics in growth among the emerging markets.
The Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union entered into force, and as a result, the share of exports to the EU is now almost 43%, compared with 32% four or five years ago. A clear European strategy has given Ukraine an opportunity to compensate for the huge losses that we suffered as a result of the politically motivated closure by Russia of its market and transit to third countries for Ukrainian goods.
Despite heavy security and defense expenses totaling more than 6% of its GDP, Ukraine is undergoing fundamental transformations on social, economic and political tracks. Ukraine is constantly implementing reforms – ranging from judicial, education, healthcare, public administration reforms to carrying out decentralization and fighting corruption.
2. Announcement (11/10/2018). At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 11th of October, 2018. From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod.
Presided by His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018, in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda.
The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length the ecclesiastical matter of Ukraine, in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed:
1) To renew the decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.
2) To reestablish, at this moment, the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv, one of its many Stavropegia in Ukraine that existed there always.
3) To accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.
4) To revoke the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through oikonomia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, elected by the Clergy-Laity Assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the First hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople.
5) To appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of Churches, Monasteries and other properties, as well as every other act of violence and retaliation, so that the peace and love of Christ may prevail.
The issue of the Tomos on Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine goes far beyond religion. It is similar to the strengthening of the army, protection of the language, struggle for membership in the European Union and NATO. This is another strategic benchmark in our historic way. Tomos is actually another Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine.
3. Russian’s aggression.
As a result of Russian aggression over 1.5 million people became internally displaced persons. They still can’t return to their homes. Russia constantly multiplies the human tragedy, which lately received a new dimension: ecological. It poisons the Ukrainian soil and causes an environmental disaster not only in the occupied Crimea, but in Donbas as well.
Under Russian occupation, Crimea has turned into a military stronghold threatening security and stability in the entire wider Black Sea region. Russia’s aggressive policies as well as its arrogance in using lethal weapons multiply the threat.
Since the first day of the illegal occupation of Crimea, Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians have faced repressions and discrimination. There are many cases of murders, tortures, harassment and arrests under fabricated charges. The list of hostages and victims of the Russian occupation regime in Crimea is getting longer almost every day. The Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identities seem to be a criminal offence in today’s reality of the occupied peninsula.
The developments in Crimea prove that repressions and blatant violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the peninsula will continue until Russia reverses its illegal occupation. Ukraine again urges the Russian Federation to stop its aggression, including by withdrawing its armed formations from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and fully implementing its commitments under the Minsk agreements.
4. Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by Russia.
Ukraine regularly raises the issue of its citizens illegally detained by Russia and its occupation administrations on fabricated charges and judged in the absence of elementary standards of justice. They remain among the main victims of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, who continue to be exploited by Kremlin for its own political ends. Recently, Volodymyr Balukh received the final verdict of 4 years and 11 months in prison (merely for flying a Ukrainian flag above his private house in the occupied Crimea); Mykola Semena was banned from leaving the Crimean peninsula to mainland Ukraine for medical treatment; Roman Sushchenko was transferred to a prison colony; Oleg Sentsov was denied an appropriate medical treatment and forced to end his hunger strike after 144 days to avoid a torture of force-feeding. Over 70 Ukrainian citizens remain political prisoners of Kremlin. The pre-trial detention of four Crimean Tatars, who had been arrested on trumped-up charges in Bakhchisaray in May 2016, was extended again until January 2019. Ukraine calls upon the OSCE participating States to continue to firmly address this issue with the Russian side in bilateral contacts and in multilateral fora, seeking immediate and unconditional release of illegally detained Ukrainians.
5. Russia escalates the situation in the Sea of Azov.
After occupation of Crimea, Kremlin aims now at occupation of the Sea of Azov between Ukraine and Russia. Having illegally constructed a bridge across the Kerch Strait, Russia launched a systematic disruption of freedom of international navigation through the Kerch Strait for Ukrainian and foreign ships. Such brutal actions must be rejected as illegal, including under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. They require a strong response, including an enhanced sanctions policy and other targeted measures.
Growing concern is the escalation by Russia of tension in the Sea of Azov, where the Russian Federation stopped in the last 6 months over 200 vessels bound for Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. These interruptions to commercial shipping caused economic and trade disruptions resulting in commercial losses for the ports employing thousands of people. These actions of Russia are inconsistent with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and breach the navigational rights of Ukraine and of the flag States of the stopped vessels. Ukraine strongly condemns these actions of Russia, which create yet another dimension of the ongoing Russian aggression against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
6. Deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in the occupied Donbas.
Ukraine has been calling to deploy a UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas since February 2015. Ukraine hopes that the UN will help settling the conflict by deploying an UN-mandated multinational peacekeeping force in the occupied Donbas. The UN peacekeeping mission should have broad powers and be deployed throughout the conflict zone, in particular on the uncontrolled section of the Russian-Ukrainian border. A mission, with a strong mandate and broad responsibilities to help bring peace on the Ukrainian soil.