Ottawa, Ontario – Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued this statement to mark the 24th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence:
“I am pleased to extend my best wishes to everyone in Canada and around the world celebrating the 24th anniversary of the Republic of Ukraine’s independence.
“On August 24, 1991, Ukraine’s Parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union. Canada became the first Western country to proudly recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty, and since that time Canadian-Ukrainian relations have only grown stronger, particularly of late as Ukraine has fallen victim to the Putin regime’s aggression and illegal invasion and occupation of Crimea.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves as he boards a plane in Ottawa before visiting Ukraine in June 2015. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
“Our Conservative government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ukrainian people in the face of Putin’s aggression, imposing sanctions against more than 285 individuals and entities associated with the Putin regime. Moreover, Canada has contributed non-lethal military assistance, significantly enhanced bilateral assistance to Ukraine, is developing and delivering military training and capacity-building programs for Ukrainian forces personnel, and most recently, extended Operation REASSURANCE until June 2016.
“The Ukrainian people have shown tremendous strength and resolve against the Putin regime, demonstrating courage and determination. Our Conservative government’s position on Ukraine is clear: we recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and will never recognize the illegal Russian occupation of Crimea or any region of that country.
“I was pleased to have visited Ukraine four times as Prime Minister. In addition, I hosted Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine, earlier this summer, and Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, in September 2014. Certainly, the relationship between our two countries has advanced beyond its historical and cultural roots to embrace cooperation in the political, economic, security, development, and commercial spheres. Of particular note, I was especially pleased to welcome the completion of negotiations between Canada and Ukraine towards a free trade agreement just over one month ago, that will create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Canada has benefited greatly from the contributions of our dynamic Ukrainian-Canadian community, today numbering over 1.2 million people, in the building of a strong, proud and free Canada.
“Once again, I extend my best wishes to everyone in Canada and around the world celebrating Ukraine’s Independence Day.”