Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Address to the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia

delivered 26 May 2022, Kyiv, Ukraine


[as translated from the Ukrainian language by the Ukrainian Govt]

Dear Mrs. Speaker, Mrs. Ināra!

First of all, thank you for such kind words, thank you for your arrival, thank you for this support.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister!

Dear deputies of the Saeima!

Dear Latvian people!

I am glad to have the opportunity to address you today and, above all, to thank you for all the help that Ukraine has received from the Republic of Latvia and from many ordinary citizens of Latvia.

You perceive our struggle for freedom as your own struggle. And this is true -- because right now in Ukraine the fate of all of us, all Europeans, is being decided.

It is the strength of weapons in the war that Russia has launched against our country, against Ukraine, and at the same time against the freedom of all its neighbors, that determines what will dominate in Europe for decades to come. Either it will be justice for every nation we strive for with you, or Russia will manage to make the words "occupation," "repression," "deportation" main again for different nations. I am grateful to you for the determination you’ve stood up for justice with.

As early as 6pm on February 23, "Stingers" from Latvia arrived in Ukraine. The weapons we received from you, from the first hours of Russia's full-scale aggression, began to save the lives of our people.

While many others hesitated, looking for excuses, you were among those who acted. And continue to help us to the maximum now. In the defense sphere, with the support for sanctions, humanitarian support and extremely warm attitude to our citizens who have found temporary shelter in Latvia. Ukraine will always remember your help. I am grateful to you for this, grateful for this help!

So why did it happen that someone resolutely chooses the path of action and support, and someone does everything to really do nothing?

Why can those who do not have great resources show great courage, and some quite powerful actors in global relations do not find in themselves a percentage of the power you have?

Why can they tolerate criticism for cowardice, double standards and hypocrisy, even accusations of direct indulging in Russian aggression just to stay away and maintain contacts with Russia?

There are various answers to these questions.

Of course, often the answer is just money. There are those who are just looking for benefits and are able to think only about profits, interest and account statements.

There are those who hope in vain that they will be able to pacify Russia if they remain silent and do not really fight aggression. But, in fact, these are not decisive factors. They are an add-on. The basis of everything is contempt for values.

There are people -- and many of them among the powerful of this world -- who believe that not all nations matter. Who believe that a nation can simply be forgotten to try to keep peace. Even the temporary peace, even the illusory one. Even peace at the cost of tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands deported or millions deprived of their homeland. They are OK with that. Peace at the cost of the lives of others. But this should not be normal!

In the past -- and even in the very recent past -- this disrespect for certain nations has led to terrible and insidious conspiracies and pacts that deprived statehood, destroyed borders and inflamed the appetite for war. Millions of people died because of it. The lives of generations have been poisoned. And it seemed that at least Europe and the Western world drew conclusions from their experience.

But now we hear again that Russia should be given what it wants. That supposedly it is necessary to accept that some nations may be deprived of part of their foreign policy rights, because certain, as they say, "historical force" wants it. There are quite serious talks about drawing some dividing lines along the body of a sovereign state in order to allegedly "appease" the aggressor. And allegedly concessions, concessions and concessions again are needed -- of course, at the expense of the state, which was attacked, so that the aggressor allegedly mercifully stops.

And this is about Ukraine, which has been defending itself for the fourth month already in a full-scale war against the second strongest army in the world.

And what will happen if Russia starts a war against states that have less internal potential for defense than Ukraine? Will the world help such states? Or will they be given up without any disputes at all?

And it's not just some speculation -- it's a reality. This is our reality.

In Russia, they openly say that they will not stop in Ukraine. They need the Baltic states, Poland, and other European countries. That is why we must restore full respect for the fundamental values on our continent. We must fight absolutely clearly and at all levels for the principle: Every nation matters. The interests of any nation cannot be ignored, betrayed or exchanged for something in a relationship with those who want to make that nation dependent on themselves.

When this principle is truly respected by all, in full, then European unity will work. And then Russia will stand no chance either in the war against Ukraine or in the war against any other European country.

When Ukraine is told that we should not be given all the weapons we need to win, they actually mean that our nation is allegedly less important than other nations who have already been given or can use such weapons.

When we are told that we have to give away part of our land because it is supposed to be a "necessary compromise," it means that our people are considered less worthy of having their interests taken into account.

Moreover, when they ask us to wait “a little longer” in the European Union's reception room -- years or decades -- not agreeing to give us full membership, and some still doubt the candidate status for Ukraine, it only emphasizes that the principle of respect for every nation does not work. And it must work.

Because if Russia starts a war, say, against any state, God forbid Latvia, all NATO members will have to decide whether to defend Latvia. If Russia provokes an emergency crisis on the borders or inside a country of the European Union, all EU members will have to decide whether to provide help.

And what will they be able to decide if there is no respect for each nation? We must do our best to never see the obvious answer to the question asked this way.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

On March 1, at a meeting in Riga Castle, a decision was made to award me the Order of Viesturs of the first degree -- the highest award of the Republic of Latvia. It is a great honor for me.

But I perceive this as a distinction not of my personal activity, but of our common struggle.

The struggle of the Ukrainian people for independence. The struggle of the Latvian people for freedom in Europe. The struggle of all Europeans, who truly respect our common values, for Europe to be truly strong and truly united.

We need this unity to guarantee the security of both Ukraine and every other state that may be threatened by Russian aggression.

We need the strength and unity of Europe for Russia to pay for this war -- to pay the full price, in particular through sanctions and the confiscation of its assets. Having experienced these losses, it must learn that war creates the greatest problems for the aggressor first of all.

It is necessary not only to finally agree on the sixth sanctions package against the Russian Federation, including the embargo on oil, oil blends and petroleum products. But also to prepare the seventh sanctions package -- with even more powerful restrictions on Russia for terror against Ukraine. Just like Latvia, the whole of Europe must restrict Russia's energy weapons. Fully.

And, of course, we need the full potential of Europe to bring to justice those who organized and are carrying out genocide against the people of Ukraine in a competent court. And I am grateful to your state, to your President, Mr. Levits, for initiatives that will help bring Russian war criminals to justice.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Dear Latvian people!

Our parents hoped that the war would not hit our generation. That you and I would not be threatened by what previous generations had to endure. Occupation, repression, deportation.

We have everything we need to eliminate these threats. And I'm sure we'll do it. Together. And guided by our values.

Paldies, Latvija!

Glory to Ukraine!

Original Text Source: president.gov.ua/en

Flag of Ukraine Source: goodfreephotos.com/ukraine/other--ukraine/flag--of--ukraine.jpg.php

Page Created: 3/??/22

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Used in compliance with the terms found here and licensed under CC 4.0 International. Flag of Ukraine = Public domain.
































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