President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine is confident his country will reach peace soon, despite nearly five months of civil conflict between the government and pro-Russian separatists.
During his first major news conference in Ukraine since taking office in June, Poroshenko said he had "no doubts" that peace would be restored soon to his country. He presented "strategy 2020," a six-year program of reforms that will increase the country's defense beginning as early as November. His plan includes reforming all major government agencies in the country and readying it for membership in the European Union by 2020.
Ukraine's parliament and the EU last week approved an agreement that places the country on the path toward membership.
"I have no doubts that my peace plan will work and that the most important, most dangerous part of the war is already over," he said Thursday, according to one of Russia's largest newspapers.
More than 3,000 people have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict since mid-April, when Kiev began a military operation against Russia-supported rebels in the southeastern regions of Ukraine.
The conflict has cooled recently as both sides have made progress toward peace, including the exchange of prisoners and a cease-fire agreement on Sept. 5. In a separate pact reached last weekend, all sides consented to remove heavy artillery from the front lines and to create a buffer zone to help enforce the cease-fire.
During his inaugural address in June, Poroshenko called on armed groups to lay down their weapons as he assumed leadership over a country brimming with violent unrest. He was elected on May 25, three months after the former president, pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country in the wake of massive street protests.
During a recent interview, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said he thinks Poroshenko is the "best president" for Ukraine during this time of conflict.