Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 20.02.2019
“There can be no just Europe without an independent Ukraine. That there can be no safe Europe without a safe Ukraine. To put it simply: there can be no Europe without Ukraine!”
These are the words of Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. He spoke them to the Ukrainian people through their democratic representative assembly, the Verkhovna Rada. They are a translation of his words into English, as President Tusk addressed his hosts in parliament in their native language, in Ukrainian. With his words and the way he spoke them President Tusk praised and honoured the Ukrainian nation.
Donald Tusk appreciates the heroism and the sacrifice that got Ukraine where it is today. Five years ago, 20 February 2014, was the worst day of the Revolution of Dignity, when most of the Heavenly Hundred were shot by Russian-aided Berkut snipers in central Kyiv. It was also the start of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, when it began the invasion of Ukraine in Crimea.
“The 'Heavenly Hundred' have entered the pantheon of not only Ukrainian, but European heroes. And to all the mothers of the fallen, I want to promise you that Europe will remember your children,” said President Tusk.
In his speech, the ‘President of Europe’ praised Ukraine as proud and indomitable, “in defiance of the malign intentions of an aggressive neighbour, and in defiance of the indifference and hypocrisy of many important actors on the global political stage.” He was alluding to the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine and the Kremlin-appeasement factions that hold sway in many Western capitals.
President Tusk regrets that Ukraine fights for Europe almost alone. “You persevered, even though your friends and allies do not always offer you enough assistance,” he told his Ukrainian audience. “The feeling of being alone in times of threat is sometimes worse than the enemy's attack.”
The President of the European Council made it clear that he is not one to stand by and abandon Ukraine. He was unequivocal “Europe will never recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea and will not drop the sanctions unless Russia fulfils its commitments.” Those commitments – such as expressed in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances – are that the Russian Federation not only respects but guarantees Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Good can prevail over evil.” Donald Tusk gave a stirring defence of European ideals and effusive praise for Ukraine’s heroic fight for those ideals. Ukraine is the quintessential European nation.
“I will always remember seeing the blue flags with their yellow stars on Khreshchatyk during the revolution, the 'Ode to Joy' playing then in so many places across Ukraine. I often say to my colleagues in Brussels: do not teach them Europe; learn from them what Europe means. Today I would like to repeat to you the words I once said to EU leaders: only those who stand with Ukraine can truly call themselves European.” – Donald Tusk