KYIV – On June 28, Constitution Day, President Petro Poroshenko attended the convocation at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NUKMA) and congratulated 688 graduates at a crossroad in their lives, as they “make a huge step into the future.”
This year, the convocation acquired special significance with the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, which is being celebrated throughout the year with a series of programs, including exhibits, publications, academic conferences, concerts.
The convocation was attended by a large audience of graduates, students, their families and faculty; as well as special guests, including President Poroshenko and several Ukrainian government officials who hail from Kyiv Mohyla Academy: Minister of Education and Science Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Agriculture and Food Oleksiy Pavlenko, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Rostyslav Pavlenko, Deputy Minister of Education and Science Inna Sovsun, and Kyiv City Council Deputy Serhiy Husovsky
Given that the event took place on Ukraine’s Constitution Day and in view of the fact that Pylyp Orlyk, the author of the first Constitution of Ukraine – Europe’s first constitution – graduated from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the president dedicated most of his speech to the necessity of constitutional amendments, among them provisions for decentralization.
“I deliberately and voluntarily agree to provide a significant part of powers and financial resources to the level of communities. The central government will have only functions of control,” Mr. Poroshenko said.
At the same time, he emphasized that decentralization will not weaken central authorities in the issues of defense, foreign policy, national security, rule of law and compliance with civil freedoms. He added that decentralization has nothing in common with federalization.
President Poroshenko also stated that the abolition of parliamentary and judicial immunity and reform of the judicial system are a priority.
The president assured his audience that he will continue to uphold democratic principles in the government. “On Constitution Day, I would like to reiterate my commitment to the parliamentary-presidential model that was restored in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity,” he said. “There are numerous examples in history when democracies became victims of predatory neighboring authoritarian regimes that weakened democratic countries by organizing political strife there. We’ve learned historic lessons and will not allow their repetition,” the president stressed.
President Poroshenko noted the central role of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the history of Ukraine and congratulated the academy on its 400th anniversary, which will be marked in October. “You proved that even at such a serious age the academy can be a leader in innovations that are crucial for successful reform, modernization, and implementation of the European choice and Westernization of Ukraine.”
President Poroshenko said: “If so many hetmans graduated from your academy, sooner or later a former student of this institution will become president of Ukraine… You are lucky to live in an independent state with European prospects.” These words were especially well received by the audience.
As host of the gathering, NUKMA President Andriy Meleshevych stated: “Pylyp Orlyk, who attended Kyiv Mohyla Academy, wrote the first Constitution of Ukraine and the first constitution of Europe in 1710. On this very day in 1992, President Leonid Kravchuk announced the Constitution of independent Ukraine at our university. Today, five legal experts from our university are actively working on reforms of the nation’s Constitution. As throughout our history, with our faculty, students and alumni, we continue our role in building Ukraine.”
In his statement, NUKMA Honorary President Vyacheslav Bryukhovetsky said: “Ukraine is going through a difficult period at this time of its history, but it is at such times that we are all called to test our resolve and determination. Our students and graduates are members of ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] against the Russian invasion. Regardless of status, age or position, members of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy are fighting for the same principles and rights as past generations. Time passes quickly, and very soon your children will ask you: What did you do for Ukraine? Work, fight to defend and build our country!”
The 400th anniversary celebrations will take place in Kyiv. Among the highlights will be the publication of the second volume of the Encyclopedia of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (1819-1924), a fund-raising gala dinner at Ukrainian House on October 1 and an official concert on October 15.
Marta Farion is president of the U.S.-based Kyiv Mohyla Foundation.