On January 21, 1999, the President of Ukraine decreed the "Day of Reunion of Ukraine", a government holiday, celebrated every year on January 22 to mark the political and historical significance of the 1919 agreement.
Ukraine marks the 99th anniversary of signing Unification Act (“Act Zluky”) on January 22, 2018.
“Act Zluky” was signed by the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR) and the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR) on 22 Jan 1919 at Sofia square in Kyiv and symbolized the unity of two separate republics that appeared on Ukrainian territories after the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It was preceded by the signing (January 22, 1918) of the Fourth Universal of the Central Rada, which declared the Ukrainian People's Republic a sovereign and independent state. The Western Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed in November 1918. The process of unification of Ukraine was completed on January 22, 1919.
The union of the UPR and WUPR became a model of civilized, non-expansionist gathering of territories in a single sovereign state.
The Act stated:
‘The territory of Ukraine, divided over the centuries into the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (Galicia, Bukovyna, Hungarian Ukraine) and Dnieper Ukraine will now become united. Dreams, which the best sons of Ukraine fought and died for over centuries, have come true. From now on there is one untied and independent Ukrainian People’s Republic.’
The unification had a practical and political dimension, as both states needed the concentration of armed forces and mutual assistance to protect their territories from foreign military intervention, which at that time became an aggression. The fact of the legitimacy of the final reconciliation process that preceded the Unification Act also was very important.
This was very important Act because people of united Ukrainian territories were not involved in a fratricidal war, during which Ukrainians were killing each other, fighting on opposite sides for the interests of the different colonial empires, as during World War I.
The unified Ukrainian state, however, didn’t last long.
In December 1920, the Ukrainian SSR was established as a part of the Soviet Union comprising mostly of the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, while the territory of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic became part of Poland.
In 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic became also part of the USSR.
The most significant and memorable action marking Ukraine’s Day of Unity took place on 21 January 1990, when anticipating collapse of the USSR Ukrainian patriots united to build human chain between eastern and western Ukraine.
This chain became a symbol of united Ukraine. According to the different estimates, 1-3 million Ukrainians joined their hands that day to create a single chain unifying Donbas, Kyiv and Lviv.
Since then, human chains became traditional element of celebrating the Day of Unity all over Ukraine.
The Act of Zluky was deeply determined historically and relied on the long-standing dream of the Ukrainian people about an independent, united national state. It became a powerful expression of the will of Ukrainians to ethnic and territorial unity, a testimony of their self-awareness - an important milestone in the process of becoming a political nation. The idea of the unity of the Ukrainian lands acquired state status, in the next decades remained a unifying factor and perhaps the only common provisions of the program objectives of all branches of the national liberation movement. The Unification Act granted the completed form to an independent Ukrainian state, contributed to overcoming the remnants of federalism in the mentality of the national political elite.
The celebration of the Day of Unity, honoring the founders of the Act of Unification, is not only a public need but also our moral duty - to preserve the light memory of countless victims that were given by the Ukrainian people on the altar of independence, unity, statehood of Ukraine .