Speech by President Séamus BOLAND on the situation in Ukraine and the adoption of the EESC resolution 'Ukraine: from relief to reconstruction – proposals by European civil society'

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Plenary debate on the situation in Ukraine and the adoption of the EESC resolution 'Ukraine: from relief to reconstruction – proposals by European civil society', with H. E. Ambassador Vsevolod CHENTSOV, Head of the Ukrainian Mission to the European Union, Marta BARANDIY, representing Promote Ukraine, and Mariya KOROLCHUK, representing the Community Organised Relief Effort (CORE) and Funky Citizens

Your Excellency, dear civil society colleagues,

I find myself in the unenviable situation of being the co-author of not one, but of two EESC resolutions on the aggression against Ukraine launched by the Russian Federation, led by its President, Vladimir Putin. And I choose my words carefully, as in this 21st Century war on European soil, misinformation and disinformation play a crucial role.

But even well respected media outlets now speak of the potential threats of nuclear attacks; or of a breakdown in 'Arctic dialogue', which habitually takes place between Russia and the 7 actual or would-be members of NATO. And in all of this cacophony, what comes to mind is a quotation by Albert Einstein, who ominously said: I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Perhaps we should also recall the words of Jean-Paul Sartre who wisely stated: Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.

It is precisely for these reasons, that in the draft resolution we have called on the EU to forcefully express its full support for a rapid ceasefire and for the peaceful resolution to the war. This war contradicts the history, philosophy and identity of the EU. It is a threat to our values and to the democratic rights and freedoms of all Europeans, which are defended daily by civil society organisations.

Coming from civil society myself, it is my firm belief that these actors must be at the centre of the programming, implementation and monitoring of EU and national humanitarian assistance to Ukraine – both during the war and in the re-building of the country. EU funds for humanitarian assistance must be increased and disbursed particularly at the regional and local levels.

It is also imperative that all refugees, irrespective of their ethnic origin, gender or disabilities, should be treated equally and with respect. In the war zones, at the borders and in the host countries. Above all, we must not allow these individuals to fall into poverty or to be misused by criminal gangs. We have a responsibility to each and every refugee under European soil!

Ladies and gentlemen, 2022 will be remembered as the year when Europe went to war again. Allow me to recall that this is also the European Year of Youth. As such, young Ukrainians and youth organisations should be directly involved in rebuilding the country, in collaboration with youth organisations from our Member States. In all of this misery, we do need to keep hold of some hope and our young encapsulate that hope! Thank you for your attention.    

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Speech by Séamus Boland

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