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Zelensky: We must teach Russia to respect others and seek a path to peace

16 Feb, 2024
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Zelensky: We must teach Russia to respect others and seek a path to peace

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The address by the President at the opening of the international exhibition “Crossroads: Sweden – Ukraine through a 1000 years”

"I am grateful for your attention to Ukraine and our people, and for your crucial support in our fight for freedom.

This battle lasts for centuries, sometimes flaring up in fierce confrontations, and at other times pausing, as if freezing, only to ignite again later. 

This battle is not between nations or ideologies but represents a struggle between two sides of the human soul – one that respects life and sees others as equals, and other that only respects itself, taking others as threats. 

Every continent and era have suffered from the outbreaks of this battle. Sometimes life prevailed, – in other times, a disrespect for all the living was above. 

Exhaustion from losses has sparked a dream of eternal peace, prompting nations to learn how to extend periods of peace. Some have succeeded, while others have simply been unlucky with their neighbors.

Ukraine never desired the ongoing war, which feels anachronistically out of place in the 21st century, reminiscent of the 19th or even the 17th century. The unprovoked and criminal Russian aggression is a reflection of the evil part of the human soul that seeks dominance, showing contempt for life, and failing to learn from history despite frequently invoking it.

Our nations, Ukrainian and Swedish, had to defend against such an evil before. 

We’ve seen how other nations, under the influence of the worst in human nature, like Russia today, have waged wars against the freedom of others.

However, Europe has learned to overcome this – to subject the evil that can arise within the human soul to rules of peace, conscience, and respect for others. 

Europe has learned to build peace, and we must preserve this experience – the architecture of cooperation in Europe and the Atlantic space that works for our collective security. 

We must strengthen our alliances and partnerships to ensure they are capable of protecting life in both the present and the future, making the 21st century distinct from the 19th or 17th – marked by peace. A reliable, lasting peace that no revanchist can destroy.

Dear Sweden! 

It depends on us what life will be like, how history will be remembered and what history books and exhibitions will speak in the times of our children and their children. Will it be a life of respect and serenity, or Europe bleeding again because of the sick ambitions of some evil soul? 

We must teach Russia to respect others and force it to seek a path to peace. It is possible. 

Remember – history marks not those who had it easy and surrendered, but those who faced difficulties and still withstood. 

Together, Ukrainians and Swedes have a common history for over a thousand years, preserving our culture and way of life, learning to value peace. And we will overcome these current challenges with dignity, courage, and cooperation. We will not let anyone else write our history. 

Thank you, Sweden! "

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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