Thank you very much for this opportunity!
Mrs. President Čaputová!
Mrs. President von der Leyen!
Mr. Prime Minister Heger!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thank you for the honor of speaking to you today.
This year, for the first time in its history, the Bratislava Forum is organized in such a way that its panels will be held not only on land, but also on water. On a ship on the Danube.
And it seems to me that this image is important. Because today discussing the challenges to European security and stability, the threats to all humanity in a comprehensive way is simply impossible without taking into account everything that is happening on water.
One of the most important targets for the Russian army in Ukraine today is bridges across rivers. There are occasions when the Russian army strikes missiles three times at the same bridge to completely destroy it.
It is impossible to overestimate the threat that Russian aggression has created for the water potential of our entire part of Europe - the center and east, the Black Sea basin.
The nature of the fighting of the Russian army is frankly barbaric. They just destroy absolutely everything. Both residential buildings and industrial enterprises are being brutally bombed. In particular, environmentally hazardous chemical plants, metallurgical plants, etc.
Fighting in Donbas has created a threat of groundwater pollution since 2014. If the flooding of coal mines in Donbas continues - among them, for example, the Yunkom mine, where an underground nuclear explosion took place in 1979 - poison and even radioactive contamination can get not only into the rivers of Ukraine, but also into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Of course, speaking about the security challenges associated with our waters - the waters of rivers, the waters of the seas, it is impossible to avoid the blockade of Ukrainian ports by the Russian Federation. Because of this act of aggression by the Russian state, the world is on the brink of a food crisis.
And it's not just a food problem. This is a shortage in the market. This is a catastrophic rise in prices for basic products. This is a threat of hunger for tens of millions of people in different countries. If this is not prevented, we will get the problem of political chaos in some countries in Africa and Asia. Consequently, the migrant crisis in Europe, when people from countries suffering from hunger will seek salvation.
Also, the food crisis will inevitably lead to large-scale protests in European countries. Many governments will have to explain to protesters on the streets of various European cities why our continent has been taken hostage by one state - Russia - and one person - in Moscow - who ordered the naval blockade of Ukraine.
And now I have mentioned only a few consequences and only in one area of many in which we have extreme threats. Extraordinary challenges. How should we respond to all this?
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let's remember the Danube River again. It equally enriches different nations and different cities. Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Linz, Regensburg, Belgrade, Izmail and others. Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Moldova and Ukraine.
For the Danube to remain clean and safe, for its economic potential, including transport, to work in full, the cooperation of all countries to which nature has given this river is needed. Therefore, unity is needed. Mutual understanding is needed. We need the ability to speak and negotiate for the common good. And these, by the way, are the key things for a peaceful and free life in Europe. This is what Slovakia can do. This is what Ukraine can do. This is what other partner states can do. And this is what Russia deliberately ignores.
Does it try to hear someone? Understand? No.
Does Russia recognize common interests? No. It sees only its own, and treats them quite specifically. Not as the interests of the entire Russian people, but as the selfish desires of a handful of state owners.
And how does Russia perceive the very concept of unity? Only as an attempt to subdue others, to make them dependent on it, to destroy their identity. This is how they interpret unity - when the other and any diversity is simply destroyed.
And this is exactly what they are doing on the territory of Ukraine. They are trying not just to kill people, but to erase the very fact that there is our state, that there is Ukraine. And that Ukraine seeks to be a full-fledged part of a united Europe.
This is an openly anti-European policy of Russia. And such a policy obliges Europe to react, to react in a principled manner.
First, to support Ukraine even more actively. With weapons, finances, politically. We are grateful for the help we already receive. To everyone who helps us. But arms supplies need to be increased. Because it is on the battlefield in Ukraine that it is decided whether freedom in Europe will be preserved for all nations without exception.
And right now on the battlefield in Ukraine is a situation that could provide a turning point in the confrontation. Right now, these days, when Russia will lose the war against Ukraine, the freedom of Europeans will win for decades to come.
Secondly, these are sanctions. The main purpose of the European Union's sanctions packages is not just to harm Russia, but to make Europe independent of Russia, to sever all critical ties between Russia and European countries that Moscow uses as a weapon, including the energy one.
That is why I consider it unacceptable when so much time is spent discussing the sanctions package, in particular the sixth one. These are all our people, these are all our days. More than a month!
Of course, it is good that the sixth sanctions package has finally been agreed. But it must start working immediately so that it is possible to move on to the preparation of the seventh sanctions package. Every remaining link between Europe and Russia is a rope that the Russian state will try to turn into a stranglehold.
Thirdly, we must strengthen the unity of Europe, true unity. And the main step in this direction should be to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate for membership in the European Union, and subsequently full membership. There can be no temptation in Russia to assume that European countries will not support Ukraine in this matter.
Because if Russia feels that Europe is weak and can leave Ukraine without the obviously necessary decision on candidacy, it will be one of the biggest destabilizing factors for the continent during Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We must respond to all the challenges and dangers that the Russian Federation has created against us. Politics, economics, military sphere, food, environment, migration - there is no area of our lives in which there is no catastrophe, crisis or threat of catastrophe or crisis due to Russia's actions.
The quality of our answers directly depends on only one thing - our unity. Any division in Europe is a chance, a chance for Russia. For it to continue its aggressive policy.
I believe you are aware of this. So, I believe that we will be able to protect our continent and our people from everything that threatens us today. But we also have to think about tomorrow. About what will happen after the victory, together with you, we believe in our common victory over tyranny.
That is why Ukraine is already working on a large-scale United 24 initiative. It is a system of tools that can, when fully built, protect not only our state, but also other nations from the threat of armed aggression, natural disasters and anything that can destroy lives.
We aim to make sure that every state that needs help can receive it in 24 hours. Unfortunately, there is no such tool in the world today. Although it is obvious that there is a need for it.
So, I urge you to familiarize yourself with how the first element of this future infrastructure works. Fundraising platform that allows you to accumulate funds from different sources for different needs, including defense, infrastructure, medical, social. Anyone without any bureaucracy can decide for themselves how to help a state in need.
Gradually, we will add other tools to United 24. Diplomatic instruments, sanctions, technical tools - together with you. They will significantly upgrade the existing global security architecture. I am sure that the need to update it will also be one of the key topics of your discussions.
So, pay attention to the Ukrainian proposals. And do not forget that the state, for which anything is a weapon or a way to aggression, is trying to destroy us all. Including your peaceful and beautiful Danube.
Defend us! Defend yourself!
Glory to Ukraine!