My dear Ukrainian Community,Soon we will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine – the principal document that defines the country’s political system, outlines the basic rights and freedoms of Ukrainians, regulates the most important public relations and affirms the democratic principles of the country’s development.
Our Constitution is based on centuries of historical experience and a Ukrainian constitutional tradition. It has its origins in the “Rus’ Truth” of Yaroslav the Wise and Pylyp Orlyk’s Constitution of 1710, which, according to historians, is the first European constitutional act in the modern sense of the word.
The Constitution of Ukraine was adopted in 1996 and in its key provisions is based on these historical documents. In the section on the determination of rights and freedoms it is considered one of the most progressive in the world. At the same time, the experience of state building over the past decades has shown that since the adoption of the Fundamental Law, given today’s dynamic environment, the Constitution of Ukraine requires certain changes.
Some of its provisions, in particular those concerning the judiciary and the separation of powers, have caused an imbalance and led to a serious crisis in government, and therefore have been the subject of justified criticism both within the country and by the international community.
The Constitution is a living thing which exists and develops together with the state. With every twist and turn of history, with each new revolution, Ukrainian society progresses to a new level of development and becomes more democratic. Today Ukrainians cannot allow the judiciary to remain dependent on executive levels of government, corrupt prosecutors and judges cannot remain immune from prosecution, and the issue of the irrational allocation of powers and anti-corruption policies cannot continue to be ignored.
These days there is much talk on the subject of whether the Constitution can be changed or not, whether or not it is necessary to make amendments and, accordingly, whether the principal law of the state needs to be adjusted in times of military action and armed conflict.
Article 157 of the Fundamental Law states: “The Constitution of Ukraine shall not be amended, if the amendments foresee the abolition or restriction of the human rights and freedoms of people and citizens, or if they are directed at the termination of independence or the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
No one is seeking to revise these principles.
Ukraine is now probably experiencing its most difficult time since independence – its unity and territorial integrity are being tested, but it is also being tested on its compliance with contemporary world realities and its movement forward toward the future of the state as a whole.
This is a serious step which must be based on the consolidated will of the people. The principle of public consensus should lie at the heart of the constitutional changes, the unification of political and social forces around the notion of the country’s development, eliminating those factors which create tension within the state.
We are changing our country, so naturally its constitution also needs to change. Had we done nothing, we would have continued to live in the year 2013, without any hope whatsoever of change.