"One of the most significant events in the history of Ukrainian statehood and the national liberation movement took place exactly 101 years ago. 'The age-old dreams, for which the best sons of Ukraine lived and died, have come true.' This is a quote from the Unification Act that announced the reunification into a single, independent state and was solemnly proclaimed by UNR and ZUNR leaders on Sofiiska Square in Kyiv on January 22, 1919. In all corners of Ukraine this was met with enthusiasm: at last there was a chance to build a united and independent country. Unfortunately, it was lost. The ambitions of the then politicians prevented them from achieving true state unity. Unity is not in words but in deeds," he said.
He recalled that soon the leaders of the Ukrainian People's Republic (UNR) left Kyiv under pressure from the Bolsheviks, most of the territory of Galicia was occupied by Polish troops. Northern Bukovina was occupied by Romanians, and Zakarpattia went to Czechoslovakia.
"It's been over a hundred years now. Have we made any conclusions from this story? It teaches us a simple but vital principle for Ukraine: only together are we strong," Zelenskyi said.
According to him, the topic of unity hurts every Ukrainian. In today's world, the sense of a nation as a whole comes not only from common traditions, culture and religion. There are also values that are acceptable for every corner of Ukraine and according to which Ukrainians could have been identified in every corner of the planet in the future, Zelenskyi said. He added that these are values of integrity, good manners and tolerance, values of freedom and democracy, the desire for economic well-being and prosperity, the desire to be wealthy, values of respect for the law, private property and respect for one another.
"I am Ukrainian because I live by the law. I am always ready to protect my home country when necessary. I am a model for the post-Soviet space: in defense of my rights, in defense of free speech, a state governed by the rule of law, civil society, zero tolerance for corruption. I am Ukrainian because I am a responsible citizen. I pay taxes. I do not run a red light, I park my car properly, and I never drive in a state of alcoholic intoxication. I care about the environment. I am learning to think critically. I am Ukrainian because we are the best in sport, science and IT. I lead a healthy lifestyle. I learn foreign languages. I support equal opportunities for the realization of men and women. I respect the rights of representatives of all national minorities and all religions," the president said.
According to him, this list can be supplemented. And every Ukrainian must do this in order to be competitive in the modern world, he said.
"To be strong, we must become united. To become united, we must be strong. So that Ukrainians become first. Yes, it is a dream. But a shared dream has always been a driving force for us. The force we need so much now. Congratulations on Ukraine's Unity Day!" Zelenskyi said.