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At the 16th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting in Kyiv

Dear Ukrainian friends and friends of Ukraine! 

I am very happy to be back at this conference with you and also happy to see free mister Sentsov here. I believe many of us here have called for his freedom and freedom for other prisoners. Many of us have used hashtags #freesentsov. And now it has happened.

On the other hand, let us not forget that this is only the first step, but the run is a marathon – 42 kilometres.

At the moment it is not yet easy to say that we have taken a really long step forward, but I know that somewhere around the 21 km mark, the political elite of this world might feel that we are closer to the finish line then we actually are.

At that point we must remember that Crimea is still occupied, this is something we need to solve and it takes strategic patience.

It may take 50 years — the Baltic states were occupied 50 years, but this was never recognised and this is what gave us back our freedom. So, I wish you all the happiness and I wish us all strategic patience in that question.

While preparing this speech, I realised that while political thinkers of the Baltic states are often invited to share their reform experience, our experience is, to a certain extent, rather irrelevant. It is true that its technicalities are still relevant, but their meaning to the outside world, if repeated, will be totally different.

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