Mr. President of the Paneuropean movement of Austria Karl von Habsburg,
Members of the Board,
Or should I just say: fellow Europeans!
At the onset, I would like to pay tribute to Otto von Habsburg, who dedicated his life to promoting the Paneuropean movement and contributed immensely to piercing the Iron Curtain at the time. He was also one of the first to identify Putin as the greatest threat to Europe -- as early as in 2005.
His prophecy has become our grim reality. Today, Russia is hitting peaceful Ukrainian cities with missiles and drones in a genocidal war of aggression. This war is also part of Putin’s wider strategy to destabilize and destroy the European Union. Russia turns food and energy into weapons and directs them at innocent people in Europe and across the world. Putin wants to steal the well-being and stability from every European household, he also plays hunger games with Asian, African, and Middle Eastern families by threatening exports of Ukrainian grain. He resorts to nuclear blackmail to scare the West and sow doubts whether the support of Ukraine should continue.
But we should not give in to fear and blackmail. Each time we, Europeans, have stayed firm, principled, united, and strong, Putin always backed down. On the contrary, any sign of weakness is an invitation to Russia for further terror and atrocities. This is the reason why the support for Ukraine must be sustained and strengthened, and no steps back in the sanctions regime on Russia are acceptable.
Right now is the time to embrace the goal of Ukrainian victory and work toward it collectively rather than looking for premature peace deals with Russia. Moscow has not changed its tone of ultimatums and is not ready for serious negotiations right now. They make statements designed to seem as if they are ready to talk, but this is just a smokescreen for their continued aggression. No one should be fooled by them.
What will bring real peace is the Ukrainian victory. This goal is fully achievable, and we have proved it with successful Kharkiv and Kherson counteroffensives this autumn. An essential condition on the path to victory is to abandon fear.
Ukraine’s victory will also be the victory of Europe and the West. It will restore peace and security in our continent for decades to come. Furthermore, it will ensure a long period of international stability, because it will prove that aggression is not an effective tool to achieve goals in the 21st century. This is the outcome we should all be seeking and the way to a real, lasting, and just peace.
We are grateful to all of our partners who have stood with us all the way. I am also grateful to Austria for its vast political, humanitarian, and financial support. Even though Austria is a neutral country, it has found a way to clearly stand on Ukraine’s side. This will always be remembered.
We need the support of our international partners to continue. This includes defense assistance, further isolation of Russia, financial support, and urgent assistance in recovering our energy system damaged by Russian strikes. I once again emphasize that supporting Ukraine is not charity. By helping Ukraine, European partners are also helping themselves. They invest in long-term security and stability in Europe.
We need a victory, not a draw. If we allow Russia to get a pause now, Putin will create a giant ticking bomb of a frozen conflict in the middle of Europe ready to explode at any moment. This would be a strategic mistake for Europe to seek such an outcome. I call on all of Ukraine’s partners: do not propose that we make compromises with our consciousness, territorial integrity, or sovereignty. For these would also be your compromises with your own security. We in Ukraine are enduring enormous pain and we want peace as no one else. But we also know that wars like this must end with the victory of good over evil. Let’s work together towards this end.
I once again congratulate the Paneuropean congress with its centennial. Let the next hundred years be an even greater success.
Thank you all for your attention.