President of Ukraine

No one can be left alone with war and its consequences in mind and soul – speech of President of Ukraine at third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen

6 September 2023 - 19:30

No one can be left alone with war and its consequences in mind and soul – speech of President of Ukraine at third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen

Glory to Ukraine!

Dear our guests,

Dear our first ladies and gentlemen,

Dear Olena!

Dear Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette,

Everyone present.

I am very pleased to welcome all of you – thank you for the invitation – to welcome everyone to the third Kyiv Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen! I am glad that Ukrainian soft power manages to be effective.

Decisions always propel history forward. But each of these strong decisions is primarily the energy of the emotion flared up before its adoption, effectively paving the way for the decision.

It can be a very strong outburst. Or it can be barely noticeable, but no less important emotion. There are very special emotions that bring people to the square and add new colors to the streets with flags and slogans. And there are emotions that are important to be felt by only one person or one parliament, and then history becomes entirely different.

Ukraine knows how to make history different. In particular, through the diplomacy of emotions – the soft power of our state, which can speak to the soul of every nation. Speak in a way that in a world suffering from an excess of aggression, it is possible to fill the deficit of solutions that benefit people. It is the people who benefit. And after the people, the states benefit.

And for decisions to be implemented, one probably cannot build anything solely on the foundation of emotions. And just making decisions is not enough. Systematic action is always needed to turn the emotion into decisions, and decisions, in turn, into concrete results. Our soft power has such a systematic nature. And this is what truly strengthens Ukraine.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am pleased that this format – the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen – has truly become a platform for coordinating the soft power of Ukraine and our partner states. And today, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the United States, Lithuania, Estonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Armenia, Moldova, Poland are represented here. I want to thank them. Public leaders from various countries, including from the United Kingdom, from France. I thank all of you for making this format happen! We thank you.

The format has indeed become a reality. And the summit, and Olena's team, and Olena – thank you for organizing it. It is very important.

The summit shows the world how significant the potential is in people who may not govern institutions but possess a power greater than any institution can provide – the power of sincerity. Although first ladies and gentlemen of states may not be politicians in the conventional sense, they often find such arguments and tones that politicians genuinely cannot. And it works. And this is the result.

By the way, thanks to Olena and her communication efforts in America, significant progress has been made in the issue of modern air defense for Ukraine. Achieving this required a lot of teamwork – of course, at various levels of the state – and the element of soft power played a role in opening up space for others.

Another example. Political. The Republic of Korea. Essentially, relations between our states have been restarted. The most successful visits by representatives of Ukraine – our government and the visit to Seoul by the First Lady and the Ukrainian delegation – laid the groundwork for this. Meetings, interactions with Korean politicians and society. It is what opened a new history. And this continued with the visit of the President of the Republic of Korea to Ukraine during the war and our important agreements.

The previous Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen was dedicated to Ukraine's reconstruction after hostilities. It is a colossal scale of problems and a truly tremendous need for global support. I am grateful to the states, thankful to the leaders who have already declared their participation in Ukraine's recovery and transformation after the war. Our foreign policy is working to make Ukraine's recovery a truly global project. And here, I want us to thank Mette – she is here. We will have the first office for recovery. It will be in Mykolaiv. Thank you so much Mette!

In addition to the level of states and international organizations, there is also the level of social leaders and businesses – philanthropists and companies that are guided, in particular, by moral motives for their choices. Thanks to our soft power, Ukraine now has such allies in recovery.

And thanks to the ability to work systematically and make decisions a reality, among the various concrete results of our soft power, there are, in particular, the ambulances purchased for Ukraine, for our people, for our heroes, for our military. And I believe it would be fair to applaud and support them – those who defend Ukraine every day.

And to thank the leaders for what you do. And indeed – shelters built in schools already guaranteeing protection for children, and equipped hospitals already operating for the Ukrainian strength.

This Summit opens another very important space – a space for action, and in my opinion, it is no less extensive than the points I mentioned earlier. The topic of mental health and the government's attention to this issue is much more than medicine, therapy and practices that should be accessible to people in today's society. Especially in a society that is going through the most difficult times – going through a war. It is about what society can and should do. And what society should definitely be wary of.

I not accidently began today with an emphasis on the power and importance of emotions. Mental and emotional burden is one of the heaviest baggage left by war. And, unfortunately, not everyone can bear this baggage. We know from the history of wars how such baggage really became a burden, both for individuals and for societies. A devastating burden.

Just as every decision that moves history forward is preceded by some emotional outburst, pushing the decision into life, emotions can break any story. Break the story of a person, break a story of a family, a story of life, a story of peace.

Post-war peace is vulnerable to emotions. To the accumulated pain of war that stays with people for a long time and becomes even more unbearable over time. War is a challenge that never completely disappears even after the end of hostilities and peace taking root. War smoulders as long as it can hit people from within. As long as they suffer because of the war. As long as the losses caused by war hurt. That's why no one should be left alone with war, with its consequences. With what war does to a person's mind and soul.

Every city and village in Ukraine erased by Russian artillery is reflected in scorched souls. Each loss of a comrade in battle can become a chasm between the warrior and the society that continues to live its life and does not notice this. Every time a child sees blood from injuries, he or she sees the worst of the adult world far too early. Unfortunately, there are countless such horrific, tragic examples.

People's resilience has its limits. Everyone has their own limit. But in everyone, that limit lies in emotions, in that invisible baggage of feelings that prompt a person to act. To act one way or another – for good or for evil, for the benefit or harm. To the detriment of yourself or, God forbid, your loved ones, society. Whether it will be one way or another is determined by a person's inner world, their mental health.

It is worth taking care that it is a person's health, not a chronic illness of war.

And I am grateful that this Summit and such a representative discussion is dedicated to the topic of mental health. It is a special direction that requires a special approach. New attention – and not only the attention of our state. New institutions. A new field of rehabilitation. Staff training and expanding therapy. A new social policy. A new international collaboration, not just assistance. New arrangements. Unwavering respect for people and better understanding of people and unwavering sincerity. That is, alongside other work – the diplomacy of emotions and systematic efforts of soft power, directed not just for the sake of external relations, but for the sake of people's inner world. So that people can prevail. People! Together with their state.

War always discards the non-essential, war always discards the hollow. But it also leaves people with what they need to know how to discard. To discard what destroys. Destroys lives. It is necessary to build a system that saves from these ruins. And let every emotional outburst help to make the movement forward brighter!

Thank you for your attention!

Glory to Ukraine!