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Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch ’76 presents Vance Lecture

Kathryn Li '20

Kathryn Li '20

Kathryn Li, Editor

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On the evening of Wednesday, October 3rd, United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch ‘76, presented a Vance Lecture on Ukrainian and U.S. relations. Ambassador Yovanovitch expressed her happiness to be home again after so many years, and introduced her speech passionately, “I want to strive to make situation in Ukraine real to students here at Kent.”

Prior to her appointment as Ambassador to Ukraine in 2016, Ambassador Yovanovitch served as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia (2008-2011) and the Kyrgyz Republic (2005- 2008), among other positions.

During the first part of her speech, Ambassador Yovanovitch explained the history behind Ukraine’s current status, touching on the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 in which citizens took to streets to protest, “demanding representation and freedom, Rule of Law, and an end to corruption.” This was after then president Viktor Yanukovych, “refused to sign documents to bring Ukraine closer to Europe.” Yanukovych ultimately fled the country, “taking with him three billion dollars and leaving the country bankrupt.”

“Ukraine has changed,” states Ambassador Yovanovitch. She describes the emergence of a national identity, and says she is optimistic about Ukraine’s future. “There has been political reform as well as a generational change that is driving Ukraine forward.”

The ambassador stressed that providing U.S. aid to Ukraine, “a young democracy,” is vital to national security. “Ukraine matters, it lies at intersection of two ways for the world,” which she states are the western-American model, versus the old Soviet model.

“The United States must do its role in securing Ukraine as a Nato Nation,” and it does so by providing one billion dollars in monetary aid, provide training to armed forces, and helping in humanitarian efforts.

As “Europe is America’s biggest trading partner,” Ambassador Yovanovitch expresses her hopes that the U.S. can gain a strong ally in Ukraine, after helping it become a strong country that “can contribute trade and military to us.”

Ambassador Yovanovitch’s presentation was followed by a Q&A session where students posed questions on U.S. foreign policy priorities, relations with other major foreign powers, as well as challenging viewpoints on the political state of Ukraine. She ended with a hope that, “we can find international diplomacy as a path to peace” and encouraged students to take advantage of “the gift of a Kent School education” to pursue any interests not only diplomacy, but public service in general.

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Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch ’76 presents Vance Lecture