President Victor Yushchenko and First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko hosted a reception for one thousand guests on Friday to mark the 16th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, according to the President`s press-office.

In his speech, Yushchenko said he was “proud of the Ukrainian state and its people.” 

He said Ukraine’s democracy was facing many formidable challenges, both “inherited and acquired,” but added that they could not “outweigh the nation’s craving for change.”

The president expressed confidence the country’s long-lasting political crisis would be resolved after a snap parliamentary election in September and that “truly democratic forces” would work hard and in unison to benefit their people. 

“The period of political uncertainty has finished…,” he said, urging Ukraine’s new government to introduce political, constitutional and social reforms. “I firmly demand this and I am confident in our results.”

Yushchenko thanked his fellow citizens for their “wisdom, hard work and faith in their prospects” and Ukraine’s foreign partners for supporting important changes in the country. 

“Ukraine deeply appreciates its responsibility for the region’s and Europe’s stability and development. We are moving forward. The state is becoming stronger. The people are becoming more confident in their abilities.”