- Documents on Democracy
On June 7, newly elected president Petro Poroshenko was sworn into office. (For more on recent political developments in Ukraine, see the articles on pp. 17–89 above.) Below are excerpts from Poroshenko’s inaugural address:
The return of Ukraine to its natural, European state has been long-awaited by many generations. The dictatorship that ruled Ukraine in recent years sought to deprive us of this prospect; people rebelled. The victorious revolution of dignity has not only changed the government. The country has changed. People have changed. The time of inevitable positive changes has come. To implement them, we need first of all peace, security and unity. . . . I have become president to preserve and strengthen the unity of Ukraine—to ensure lasting peace and guarantee reliable security. I know that peace is the main thing for which the Ukrainian people aspire today. . . .
Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle down our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be Ukrainian soil. Yesterday, in the course of the meeting in Normandy, I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukrainian soil. Period. There can be no compromise regarding Crimea, European choice, and state structure. Anything else shall be discussed and negotiated. Any attempts at external and internal enslavement of Ukrainians meet and will meet the most determined resistance. We want to be free.
To live in a new way means to live freely under a political system that guarantees the rights and freedoms of person and nation. I would like to emphasize my commitment to the parliamentary-presidential republic. No usurpation of power! European democracy for me is the best form of government invented by mankind. It is the European choice which tells us that significant powers must immediately be delegated from the center to local governments. Reform on decentralization will begin this [End Page 184] year with amendments to the constitution. Newly elected local councils will receive new powers. Still, Ukraine was, is, and will be a unitary state. Dreams of federation have no grounds in Ukraine.
Early parliamentary elections are an important part of the public request for a full reset of government. Let us be honest. The current composition of this distinguished assembly does not match the mood of society—for it has changed significantly since 2012.
On January 15, Ilham Tohti, a professor of economics at Beijing’s Minzu University, was arrested on charges of inciting separatism. Tohti, a Uyghur born in Xinjiang, is the founder of Uyghur Online, a website dedicated to fostering understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. In April, the website China Change published a translation of his autobiographical essay entitled “My Ideals and the Career Path I Have Chosen.” Excerpts appear below:
People in Xinjiang today generally look back nostalgically at ethnic relations during the planned economy era [1949–76] as well as the Hu Yaobang and Song Hanliang era [1976–89]. During the planned economy era, the government distributed resources equally and fairly, creating a positive sense of equality among ethnic groups. In addition, at that time the population was restricted in mobility and there were few opportunities for group comparisons that could result in a sense of inequality. During the Hu Yaobang and Song Hanliang era, the political climate was relaxed. On the surface more people seemed to be voicing discontent publicly, but people trusted each other and felt least suppressed, and social synergy was the strongest. . . .
As a Uyghur intellectual, I strongly sense that the great rift of distrust between the Uyghur and Han societies is getting worse each day, especially within the younger generation. Unemployment and discrimination along ethnic lines have caused widespread animosity. The discord did not explode and then dissipate along with the July 5 incident and during subsequent social interactions. Instead, it has started to build up once again.
The situation is getting gradually worse. Yet, fewer and fewer people dare to speak out. Since 1997, the primary government objective in the region has been to combat the “three evil forces” [terrorism, separatism and religious extremism]. Its indirect effect is that Uyghur cadres and intellectuals feel strongly distrusted and the political...