Ladies & Gentlemen, Exactly one year ago a regular passenger Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airlines – flight MH17 – was on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. 283 passengers. 15 members of the crew. Citizens of 10 countries. 80 children, three of them toddlers under the age of 2. Doctors, scientists, politicians, civil activists. Daughters, sons, grandfathers and grandmothers, spouses.
Unfortunately, this civilian aircraft and 298 people on board became a target of a ruthless terrorist attack, launched from a territory occupied by the Russian-backed militants in the East of Ukraine. A highly technological weapon, with which the aircraft was shot could have come into hands of the terrorists only from Russia. It would not have happened without participation, without a direct order from the highest political and military leadership of the neighboring state. Exactly a year ago a camouflage of the ugly hybrid war launched against Ukraine was taken off.
The Ukrainian people took this catastrophe as a personal tragedy. A year ago thousands of people all over Ukraine expressed their definite protest against the terrorists. Ukrainians voiced support and sincere condolences to families and beloved ones of the victims. With tears in their eyes they brought flowers and toys to embassies of the Netherlands and other countries who suffered most. Today our people recall this tragedy and share the grief and sorrow of the families, who lost their loved ones.
Hardly anyone can feel for the families of the victims of MH17 flight more than Ukrainians. Due to Russia’s aggression, we have thousands of Ukrainians who lost their lives, thousands of people have been wounded. Many Ukrainian cities and villages are destroyed. More than a million and a half Ukrainians had to leave their homes and flee for safety.
We believe that we have enough strength to stand against the enemy. With support from all free nations of the world we have enough strength to overcome it. The bits of Donbas, the entire Crimea – will be back, in Ukraine. We will resurrect everything that has been destroyed, we will mend our wounds. And in the fields of the Ukrainian village of Hrabove there will be a memorial to the 298 innocent victims of the barbarian act of terrorism which took place a year ago. A memorial to the victims of a crime. A crime, which not only needs to be investigated but punished for.
Our moral duty to honor the memory of the fallen ones is to ensure a fair punishment for those guilty in downing the aircraft. This crime represents a threat to the whole international community. Justice has to be restored and the readiness to defend the basic values to be demonstrated. This is an act of atrocity that can’t be forgiven by anyone in the modern world.
Recently, together with Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and the Netherlands, Ukraine asked the UN Security Council to establish an international criminal tribunal on those responsible for crimes connected to the downing of the aircraft. Just as in the course of the past year, Ukraine is ready to continue to provide all the support, information, necessary to bring those responsible to justice.
A year ago we made an oath that those responsible for the tragedy would be punished. Those are not empty words. The murderers should know that the punishment is inevitable.