On July 16, 2015, Ukraine observes the 25th anniversary of a crucial turning point in its history – the adoption of the Declaration of the State Sovereignty. Against the backdrop of violent clashes in some other former Soviet republics that marked the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine officially declared its decision to gain independence in internal and external affairs, break away from its Soviet past and restore its statehood peacefully.
Endorsed by the overwhelmingly vast majority at the Parliament of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic the Declaration became a cornerstone document for building a re-emerging nation state. It defined basic principles and guidelines inherited further by Ukraine’s Constitution, national legislation and international agreements:
- people - all Ukrainian citizens of all ethnic groups - declared as the only source of power;
- supremacy and independence of power, its indivisibility and full authority;
- independence and equality in international affairs;
- legally defined state borders that cannot be change without people’s consent;
- equality of all citizens before the law;
- economic independence as well as free cultural and inward development.
Next year, the Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence, which later gained clearly wide support from the Ukrainian people at the national referendum. Shortly after, Ukraine was recognized as an independent state by the world and established diplomatic relations with almost every country.
The Constitution of the independent Ukraine dates back to June 28, 1996. It was regarded then to be one of the best in the world. Nevertheless, new social environment that developed in Ukraine over the years demanded changes in the national legislation, including state’s basic law. In particular, an empowerment of local communities was deemed as necessary.
These constitutional changes are expected to be voted by the end of the current year (in fact, they will be voted twice as envisaged by Ukrainian legislation). More and more often, they are referred to as a part of Ukraine’s commitments under the Minsk agreements – mutual obligations between Ukraine and Russia, which are supposed to end bloodshed in eastern Ukraine if all parties comply with them.
However, it is worth remembering that an intention to decentralize powers in Ukraine emerged long before Russian occupation of Ukrainian Crimea and Kremlin’s aggression that triggered turmoil in eastern Ukraine. Pending issue of fair balance between state and local authorities topped Ukrainian political agenda from time to time for years. Ultimately, after the Revolution of Dignity of November 2013 - February 2014 a newly elected Ukrainian President committed himself to ensure redistribution of powers according to the best European practices and Ukrainian people’s expectations.
Moreover, such an approach to running the state best corresponds Ukraine’s centuries-old traditions of governing and addressing community issues because independence, freedom and responsibility for nation’s future will always remain the basic values for every Ukrainian citizen.