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Zelenskyy offers Ukraine national idea in New Year's speech

"Let us learn to live together in respect for the future of your country."

Zelenskyy offers Ukraine national idea in New Year's speech
Photo: The president's press service

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has congratulated Ukrainians on the New Year in a 13-minute video clip in Ukrainian, in which he also said some phrases in Crimean Tatar, Hungarian and Russian.

His key message was that Ukraine should overcome its current divisions to become one.

The president noted that all Ukrainians are different, "not perfect and not saint because they are just people with their shortcomings and whims."

"But our passport does not indicate whether you are a right or wrong Ukrainian, there is no line to say that you are a patriot, maloros [little Ukrainian, the term used in the Russian empire], vatnik [proponent of pro-Russian or Soviet ideas] or [Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan] Bandera. It says: a citizen of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said.

"How can we, so different, live on together? To fence ourselves off with a huge fence? Someone convinced us that our differences matter. What if it is not so?" he asked.

He argued that Ukrainians actually have a lot in common.

"We are equally proud of the great Ukrainians. Would we stop respecting them if we knew who [poet Taras] Shevchenko or [poetess] Lesya Ukrayinka voted for in elections? If [philosopher Hryhoriy] Skovoroda or [hetman Bohdan] Khmelnytskyy had different views on NATO? Would it matter to us which church [cosmonaut Leonid] Kadenyuk and [fooball coach] Valeriy Lobanovskyy go to? What do [aircraft designer Oleh] Antonov or [rocket engineer Serhiy] Korolev think about customs clearance of cars? And what [actor Bohdan] Stupka or [Leonid] Bykov think about the Normandy format [on Donbas]. We value them for something else. Because we really value something else," Zelenskyy said.

"In the new year, we need to be a united country every day. It should become our national idea to learn to live together in respect for the future of our country. To love Ukraine means to love all Ukrainians, no matter where in our country they are born," he said.

"In the new year 2020, I wish all of us mutual respect, health, prosperity and many reasons to smile," the president said.

Zelenskyy's clip also featured stars of show business, sports and politics.

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