After three months of political turmoil in his country, Petro Poroshenko officially became the fifth president of Ukraine on Saturday and declared that he would not compromise on Crimea.
In his inaugural speech Poroshenko said that he would be looking for closer ties with Europe and would also try to settle issues with Russia. The 48-year-old billionaire, a chocolate tycoon, was elected in May In addition to the annexation of Crimea he has had to contend with sections of eastern Ukraine demanding to secede.
“Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be Ukrainian soil," Poroshenko said in a speech, according to Reuters.
The swearing-in process followed Poroshenko’s meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Friday, when the leaders met in France for events commemorating the end of World War II. Although the violence in eastern Ukraine has not subsided despite government military operations, both the sides indicated that they might start cease-fire talks.
“There can be no trade-off about Crimea and about the European choice and about the governmental system. All other things can be ... discussed at the negotiation table. Any attempts at internal or external enslavement of Ukraine will meet with resolute resistance," Poroshenko said, according to Reuters.
Since the “chocolate king” has been elected as the leader, action by the Ukrainian military has intensified against the separatists. Poroshenko in his speech Saturday appealed to the pro-Moscow rebels to lay their weapons down and maintain peace in the region.
“I am urging everyone who took up arms to lay them down. In response, I guarantee -- first -- that those who do not have the blood of the Ukrainian military and civilians on their hands and those who had nothing to do with funding terrorism will be free from criminal responsibility,” Poroshenko reportedly said, according to the BBC, adding that he will also make a controlled corridor through which Russian fighters who are present in the region can return home if they wish.