Your Excellency Madame President Sandu, Mr Merz, Professor Dr. Lammert, Distinguished guests,
Thank you for inviting me to address you today as well as for the strong Ukrainian focus of this year’s Day of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Strong presence of Ukrainian speakers in the program is really inspiring, it corresponds to the time we live in and proves that today the heart of Europe beats in Ukraine. A heart that bleeds, but also a heart that Putin was not able and will not be able to stop.
It is a sad thing to say, but the era of peace in Europe is over, and so is the era of half-measures. I know this is something very painful to hear, especially for Ukrainians and for Germans. This invokes the most horrible memories. But the understanding of this grim reality is sobering. We must act decisively to put the criminal who shook the very foundations of peaceful Europe in his place. Ideally, behind bars. This is why Ukraine pursues the idea of establishing a Special Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine to put Putin and his entourage on trial.
None of us have been choosing this war. Neither Ukrainians, nor Moldovan, nor Germans, nor other Europeans. We have always craved peace and normal life. Putin wanted this war and to restore the Russian empire and eliminate Ukrainians in the process. We have been left with no other choice than to fight and ultimately prevail.
Pragmatically speaking, the kind of attack Putin undertook on February 24th could have been successful for him in only one case: if Ukraine collapsed in a few days. Putin counted on Ukraine’s weakness. The plan was absolutely criminal, but Putin was confident he would get away with it, because the world will have to adapt to a new reality.
Now that Ukraine survived, we have every moral right to hit Russia as hard as we possibly can and defeat it. We must all embrace the goal of Ukrainian victory, which we are able to achieve with lasting support. Ukrainian victory will restore justice and peace in Europe, protect the stability and well-being of every European household.
The European landscape changes dramatically. Ukraine and Moldova will be members of the EU. Sweden and Finland are joining NATO. Common European security is a vital need that unites us all. I am glad that no-way-back-policy in relations with Putin’s Russia seems to have become German political mainstream.
How could Putin’s Russia become such a monster? Frankly speaking, decades of failed policies led to this moment. What we need today is not only to recognize mistakes of the past, but swiftly correct them with actions.
I am grateful to the current Christian Democrats leadership and personally to Mr Merz for the profound comprehension of this key issue. We need all pro-European political forces united. No matter the government or opposition.
Ukraine can win this war. The cause for Good to prevail over Evil have never been clearer - and this something that lies in the very core of the Christian Democracy.
Yes, the coming winter will not be easy. Yet, it should not change the attitude towards Russia after what it has done. If we show weakness, Russia will destroy the normal and stable life of every European household.
It is necessary to stop Moscow now and prevent it from bringing any more harm to any European country, including Germany. It is necessary to stop Russia so that no one blackmails Europe with energy and inflation anymore.
Of course, every war ends with diplomacy. But it must end on Ukrainian terms. To reach this point we need your support. So yes, it is still about weapons. Germany can bring the victory closer by further strengthening support of Ukraine.
Main battle tanks and armored fighting vehicles, additional howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems and anti-aircraft guns will help to improve the situation at the front line, while supply of ground-based air-defense systems will help protect civilians from devastating Russian strikes.
Increasing sanctions pressure on Russia remains an effective tool to bring the peace closer. We are grateful to Germany for the restrictions that have already been introduced against the aggressor.
The efforts in this field should be further strengthened by complete embargo on Russian energy resources, disconnection of all Russian and Belarusian banks from SWIFT, ban on Russian propaganda in Europe, all German companies leaving Russia, and a visa ban for Russian tourists.
The crimes of Russians in Ukraine cannot go unpunished. We expect Germany to support all efforts aimed at bringing perpetrators to responsibility.
Some years ago, one leader of the Christian Democrats said: “If Europe fails on the issue of refugees, then it won't be the Europe we wished for”.
Since that time Europe managed to develop its shelter policies, and I am grateful to Germany for embracing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.
Today, I wish to hear from Germany another line, namely: “If Europe fails to secure Ukrainian victory over the aggressor, then it won't be the Europe we wished for”.
And one more line should be added then: “The Europe we wish for is worth our fight and our suffering”.
Thank you and Slava Ukraini!