The words you have expressed pierce our souls and hearts and make us measure the gravity and seriousness of the moment. Make us measure the gravity and seriousness of the issue, the seriousness and seriousness of the decisions we will have to take together.
Because, once again, blood and war are on European soil.
Five days ago, Vladimir Putin launched a brutal, massive invasion of Ukraine. An unjustified and unprovoked war based on despicable lies. And he did it for one reason only. Because in Maidan, you, dear Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and you, dear people of Ukraine, you made the choice of freedom, democracy and rule of law.
It is not only Ukraine that is under attack. International law, rules-based international order, democracy and human dignity are also under attack. This is geopolitical terrorism, pure and simple.
We must support Ukraine, and we are supporting Ukraine. We must protect peace. We must protect democracy and international law.
Our transatlantic alliance is strong, united and perfectly coordinated. We are also working closely with the members of the G7 and with the United Nations. And more and more countries are engaging in an anti-war coalition along with people from around the world, with one common message: Russia, stop the war. Go home. Let’s talk.
We are putting maximum pressure on Russia and its leaders. We are stepping up to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. I salute all of you, President Zelenskyy and the brave people of Ukraine, for your courage and composure. It is also our duty to rise to this historic moment.
We promised together that we would react quickly, that the consequences for Russia would be massive and severe, and our actions have matched our words. We have responded with massive and unprecedented sanctions. We imposed sanctions on political and military leaders, on oligarchs, on Vladimir Putin and on Sergei Lavrov. We are also taking powerful measures to severely restrict the use of the foreign currency reserve of the Russian Central Bank. We are excluding key Russian banks from the SWIFT system. We are also imposing severe sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s economy.
But ladies and gentlemen, we must be honest and frank about each other. These sanctions will also mean a cost to ourselves. And this cost to ourselves, we have to bear it. We must assume it because what is at stake is our values, our convictions and our common future.
So, ladies and gentlemen, of course, supporting Ukraine means mobilising financial resources. We are doing it, we will continue to do it. And we call for an international donors’ conference.
It is, of course, to be engaged, especially with our Member States at the direct borders: they are going to be confronted, and already are, with people fleeing war and seeking refuge, a safe haven. It will be Europe’s honour and dignity to show our solidarity with the Ukrainians and with all those who are mobilised to assume this responsibility. But of course, solidarity will also manifest itself through defensive military means that are and will be delivered. And so this Saturday morning, in perfect coordination with the High Representative, we decided to activate the European Peace Facility, with the support of the Member States, to support these defensive military means that are so necessary for the resistance efforts of the Ukrainian people.
President Zelensky a few moments ago looked us in the eye. He opened his heart to us. He referred to this announcement, which has now been sent to us officially. The european Union’s application for recognition of Ukraine’s candidate status. It will be up to us Europeans to also rise to the occasion. And of course we know that this is a difficult subject because it concerns enlargement. And we know that there are different opinions within the European Union, which can sometimes be nuanced on this subject.
It will be up to the European Commission to issue an opinion, from which the Council will not escape its responsibilities. The Council will have to seriously analyse the symbolic, political, strong and, I believe, legitimate demand that has been expressed. It will then be necessary to give the direction and make the choice that will be the right choice, with composure, with determination, in the face of this request that is expressed today, eyes in the eyes and with an emotion that touches each and every one of us.
I would like to close these few words by telling you that certainly, when this war was unleashed, Vladimir Putin imagined that he would break European unity. He was wrong. Probably, he thought he would face inaction, passivity, looking for excuses not to decide. And he was wrong.
When he launched this action, probably, he imagined that in a few moments he would take control of Ukraine. He was wrong because the Ukrainian people, with bravery and courage, are resisting.
Probably, he imagined that by carrying out this attack, he would also deal a severe blow, perhaps even a fatal blow, to what we embody: democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Let us make sure that here too, he is wrong.
And as I stand before you today, I think of those words in 1961 – and I want to quote him – of General de Gaulle, who said ‘any retreat has the effect of overexciting the aggressor, of pushing him to redouble his pressure and finally, facilitates his assault. All in all, the Western powers have no better way to serve world peace than to stand upright and firm.”
“Right and firm”: this is exactly the posture of President Volodymyr Zelensky. It is also the posture that it is up to us to adopt: to be upright and firm and to see in the face, in the eyes, in the voice of Volodymyr Zelensky, the voice, the face and the light of freedom, hope, security, stability and European values. Thank you.
Source: Remarks by President Charles Michel at the extraordinary debate at the European Parliament on Russian aggression against Ukraine – Consilium (europa.eu)
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/nl/illustrations/vrijwilliger-handen-vrijwillig-hulp-2653999/