During his working visit to Zhytomyr region, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Korniienko took part in the opening ceremony of modular pre-school No. 8 in Ovruch.
The kindergarten was built with the assistance of our friendly Estonia. Only one year has passed since the first visit of the Estonian Centre for International Cooperation and Development to Ovruch, and now the official delegation has gathered to solemnly open the doors for little Ovruch residents. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Estonian delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Margus Tsahkna, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, Head of the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with the Republic of Estonia Arsenii Pushkarenko, Ukrainian MPs Halyna Yanchenko, Vitalii Bezhin, Roman Hryshchuk, as well as representatives of local authorities.
“We are very grateful to Estonia for this project and for Zhytomyr region,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, “I remember a little over a year ago, Arsenii Pushkarenko and I were on our first trips to Tallinn. We were telling, convincing, showing. And I want to say that it took a lot of courage back in May, when it was still unclear how it would end and how long Ukraine would last, to invest not only resources and money, but also heart and soul, to come here, to look at the facilities, to see and agree on how it would be.”
Oleksandr Korniienko expressed his gratitude for the support not only from the Estonian side but also from the entire coalition of partner countries for keeping the issue of Ukrainian children on the international agenda. “We are working hard to ensure that our children, both temporarily displaced and those who stayed where they live, gradually return to normal life. We are talking about rebuilding and returning the education sector to normal functioning. Of course, this also applies to children who have left Ukraine. We don’t want to lose them too. We are grateful that our brotherly countries are very hospitable, but we would like Ukrainians to return home.”
The First Deputy Chairman of the Parliament also spoke about the deported Ukrainians: “After deportation, russians change the surnames of our children. In the terms of international law, this is called genocide. It is written directly in the Genocide Convention, in Article 2: “Forced transfer of children constitutes a crime of genocide”. This is what hurts the most and what we will fight for. Until the last child is returned. I am sure our soldiers are ready to fight for this to the last drop of blood.”
For more than nine years, Ukraine has been standing up to russia thanks to three things: the strength of the people who do not want to submit to the aggressor, the courage of the defenders who repel horrific attacks around the clock, and international support –armed, financial and humanitarian, said Oleksandr Korniienko. And now, according to him, another important systemic support has been added – geopolitical: “Our partners see us as members of the European Union, our partners see us as members of NATO. I think together we will definitely achieve this.”
The Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said that as a father of four, he could not imagine the horror that Ukrainian children are going through. “That is why we must not be silent, but always continue to speak not only about the horrific crimes committed by the putin regime, not only about russian aggression, but also about the fate of these children. After all, every mother or father, no matter what country they are in, will always feel the horrors that Ukrainian parents are going through.” Margus Tsahkna called the opening of the kindergarten in Ovruch a symbol of the Ukrainian’ struggle for their desire to be free. “I understand that our efforts are just a drop in the ocean, but without such drops there would be no ocean. And it seems to me that we are showing a very powerful example of how to organise appropriate cooperation between nations, between governments, between municipalities,” he said.
Arsenii Pushkarenko, the Deputy Head of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation, Head of the Group for Interparliamentary Relations with the Republic of Estonia, noted that Zhytomyr Oblast is very lucky to have such determined partners. “I look at our national flags of Ukraine and Estonia, and I think that russia was hoping that there would be a russian tricolour in Ovruch, Kyiv, and many Ukrainian cities. But on our land, there will be only our national flag and the flags of our friends.” The MP is convinced that thanks to partners like Estonia, the war will end in Ukraine. “It’s good that there are countries that realise that we are paying a high price for all of us,” he said.
During the working visit, the parties signed a memorandum on the restoration of the next object – the bridge in Malyn destroyed by a russian missile.
At the same time, the Estonian side decided to donate special vehicles and laboratory equipment to Zhytomyr region to record environmental crimes for future compensation.