First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska opened the Asian Leadership Conference, which has been held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea since 2005. The event aims to engage world leaders in preparing future generations by creating a platform for discussing the most pressing global issues. The conference is organized by the South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, one of the oldest and most influential newspapers in the country.
The conference serves as a platform for many well-known international business and entrepreneurship experts, representatives of global business and financial institutions to speak and exchange views.
This year's 14th event is titled "Asian Leadership. The Era of Upheaval: The Road to Collaboration and Innovation" and is dedicated, in particular, to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In her speech at the opening of the conference, the President's wife emphasized the humanitarian consequences of the Russian attack and addressed the people and leadership of the Republic of Korea.
“I often have to tell the world what Ukraine is going through because of the Russian attack. How children study in bomb shelters, how people spend the night in the subway because of missile attacks, how no one knows whether they will wake up in their own bed in the morning. But I do not need to explain this to the people of South Korea. Because you know and remember what it is like to fight for your lives and freedom. Looking at beautiful Seoul today, it is hard to believe that it was once in ruins,” Olena Zelenska said.
She spoke, in particular, about the situation in Kherson, which was under Russian occupation, was liberated, and now experiences dozens of Russian attacks every day.
“The Russians recently shelled the station when a regular passenger train was departing, its crew were wounded. But this train went on its way and arrived on time. It was greeted with applause. This is the image of the whole life of Ukrainians now. Every day we risk being killed in our own homes, at our own workplaces, but we do our work. Like that train, we have to keep going,” the First Lady noted.
Olena Zelenska emphasized that Ukraine's victory over the invader is necessary not only for our country.
“We have no right to be a victim for the sake of others. We must win so that no dictator can blackmail neighbors with nuclear weapons or impose his will on other states. So that no bigger neighbor thinks it has the right of power to offend a smaller one,” the First Lady emphasized.
Other speakers also took the floor at the opening of the conference including: Sang-Hoon Bang, CEO of Chosun Ilbo, President of South Korea Yoon Suk Yeol, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
In particular, Yoon Suk Yeol said: "I would like to ask the international community to once again condemn Russia's actions on the territory of Ukraine. The international community should support Ukraine. This means supporting peace and ensuring world order. This will help maintain stability in the world."