Much has been said about the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden to Ukraine, but not all: something stayed out of the focus of the broad public. After the official meetings with politicians and public, the American official did not go home right away. Biden wanted to learn more about Ukraine – visit the spiritual places of Kyiv. Hanna Hopko had the honor to be his tour guide in Ukrainian capital.
Hanna, what main signals from Biden did you hear during the public meeting before the excursion?
“He said about the importance of reforming the country, support of the international community, and creation of certain pressure in order to change the system in Ukraine. By the way, Biden mentioned one of our [Reanimation Reforms Package. – Author] laws on transparency of governmental purchases. It is important to bring the money of oligarchs back to Ukraine, as well as public control over the implementation of the reforms (here we need a close connection of the public with the people who make decisions abroad). The American politician talked much about the need to combat corruption.
“There is still a window of opportunities in the presidential campaign, therefore it is important for us to approve a number of draft laws regarding decentralization of the power, regional development, administrative reform, purification of the law-enforcement system, prosecutor’s office, and judges. The external and internal pressure is needed for the system to start bulging at the seams, so that the groundwork for further changes was laid.”
Have you felt that the Americans have a serious intention to help us, or they are still waiting for presidential elections?
“By the way, one the key moments mentioned was the change of election legislation, which will make it possible for a new alternative to come to power, which will have no oligarchs behind it. So, we need transparent and honest elections.
“Of course, Americans are closely examining us. It is not without a reason that during his speech Biden said that everything depends on us, because democracy is not the end, it is an ongoing path during which changes are important. Americans don’t as much expect as they are assessing whether Ukrainians are able to reorient from the revolution of dignity to revolution of efficiency after so many victims of the Maidan, and prove that not only can they throw down the regimes, but also change systems, work with different approaches, and carry out the reforms.”
Let’s talk about the excursion. What was Biden you saw like? What did you talk about?
“Biden produced a very positive impression on me. He is easy to communicate with, he is open and intelligent, he quickly picks up needed messages and keeps up the conversation with interest, he is an educated person and has a good sense of humor.
“During the tour we were talking more about geopolitical things in the context of our country’s history. For me it was important to bring to him the message that Ukraine is a country with a long history, rich culture and traditions, which stands every chance to get on its feet. For example, when we visited St. Sophia’s Cathedral, I told Biden that there is mosaic which was created back in the 11th century, when Moscow did not even exist, and which was restored for the money of the American government.
“I tried to get to him the thought that Maidan is able to win back Ukrainian traditions, fight for own identity and presence in geopolitical field via modernization. During the tour I also told him what role St. Michael Cathedral has played during the recent events: I underlined that it does not matter whether you are an ethnic Armenian, Russian, Jew or Ukrainian, it does not matter what church you attend, during the Maidan we were all united by St. Michael’s Church. That was a good opportunity to show that Ukrainians are united in their impulse to fight for their own future.”
What was Biden’s reaction to historical facts, like about Sophia of Kyiv and Moscow, which did not exist in the 11th century?
“He was pleasantly surprised and smiled. That was my response to the reproaches of Putin and his lobbyists who say that Ukraine is an artificial state. I also thanked the ambassador for the help in restoring of the mosaic of St. Sophia Cathedral, which only confirms that our history is very ancient. Biden said as well that he felt that I love my country. I said that I love Ukraine and want the world to love it.”