President of Ukraine

Speech by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the States General of the Netherlands

31 March 2022 - 13:31

Speech by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the States General of the Netherlands

Mrs. Speaker!

Dear members of parliament!

Mr. Prime Minister! Mark!

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense!

Dutch people!

I have the great honor of becoming the first foreign head of state to address the House of Representatives of the Netherlands and your people. In this format, at such a time.

I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity. For the fact that in these critical circumstances in which my country and our entire continent found themselves, I can explain to you directly what is happening and why it is so important to be together now for all of us, for all Europeans. For all who value peace on our planet. Peace for which millions of people have fought, generations of Europeans. And which was destroyed by one decision, in one moment.

So much has been done since World War II so that what Ukraine is experiencing right now never happens again. But everything repeats. Unfortunately. Only so far for one European country, not for the whole continent.

But World War II began with the destruction of individual states as well. And then it led to the tragedy of Rotterdam, the terrible bombing of London and the massacre that engulfed all of Europe.

If peace on the continent had not been preserved, if the great war had returned with no less brutality than 80 years ago, no one could have a reason to believe that certain state borders would manage to deter aggression.

Especially since many in Russia want to carry this aggression further, further to Europe. The shadow of those ruins of Rotterdam is already hanging over many European cities. Ukraine is just the beginning, if Russia isn’t stopped. If we don't stop it immediately!

36 days! 36! That is how long our state, our people have already been fighting alone against the army, which was considered among the strongest in the world. Russia has been preparing for this campaign against us, against freedom, against our people for decades. They have accumulated as many resources to spend on war, on death, as not every European country can spend on life.

And now these Russian resources are working at full capacity and, by the way, tirelessly. They work in such a way that... No matter how scary it may sound, people are already getting used to it. The world is beginning to adapt. They start to ignore everything they hear about the war. They are getting used to the news about the new bombing of our peaceful cities. About new missile strikes. They are getting used to the updated lists of those killed. Daily reports of the number of destroyed houses and shelled cities and communities no longer evoke emotions.

For many others, the war in Ukraine is becoming routine. Unfortunately, this is true. Routine. But not for those whose lives are in danger every minute.

Who, as residents of our city of Mariupol, has been under complete blockade for more than three weeks already. Without everything: without life, without food, water, basic medicines, without communications. Who is forced to stay in basements, hide anywhere just so as not to die under fire.

But not for those whom Russia has taken to its territory. Simply deported, as the Nazis did in the occupied countries. Thousands of Ukrainian children and tens of thousands of adults were forcibly transported to the territory of the occupying state. Unfortunately, we do not know anything about the fate of most of them.

How to return them? Will they lose touch with their relatives? Will Russia give back these people, these children? These are horrible questions for us. And for some it is becoming a routine that one should not even pay attention to.

We are now at a time when we need to act even faster, even more powerfully than during the first month of the war. When the peoples of Europe, the peoples of the world saw what Russia was doing. And they are all full of indignation, full of desire to help. It's true.

But people's attention and emotions do not focus on the same thing for long. If the situation is not resolved, people may switch to something else.

We have no right to give this war another 36 days! We must all work together to make Russia seek peace as soon as possible!

Hundreds of children were killed. Thousands of people were killed. Tens of thousands of houses were destroyed. Burned cities, villages. Russian occupiers rape women in occupied areas. They loot everything they can, everything they find. They even kill not to achieve any military success anymore. Not to sow terror. They started killing because it is fun for them! Entertainment for people who have as many weapons as they want and no deterrents.

We will never accept this! And we will never stop defending ourselves!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Dutch people!

I know that tomorrow your country will celebrate 450 years since the beginning of the armed uprising against tyranny. A fundamental event for your state, for your society.

Under normal circumstances, in my address to you, I would talk about it as you are used to hearing it. As about history, a historical moment. As about your heritage. As about the achievements of generations of people who lived 450 years ago.

But today, as my country struggles against tyranny, I will speak about it solely as about a current event, as about something that must happen here and now. The faster the better.

What was the goal of the founders of the Netherlands? Obviously: freedom, democracy, human dignity, cohesion, cultural, religious diversity.

Since then, the path to everything that shows modern Europe has continued. To the free life of dozens of different nations together - in a single space. To tolerance, which provides an unprecedented level of human respect for each other in human history.

And all this is now under attack again. All this now needs to be defended again. To be defended in the east of Europe, to be defended in our state, in Ukraine. So far only in Ukraine… So far there is a chance to stop the tyranny on our land and drive it back, beyond our Ukrainian border.

I am grateful to you, politicians, I am grateful to all ordinary people for the extremely strong support of my state, our people at this time. For leadership in sanctions. For the principled stance in business activity related to the Russian Federation. For the help you provide to Ukrainian immigrants who have felt family care in your society. This is all extremely valuable!

But Russia does not cease hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. Exactly on the territory of Ukraine. And we have to do much more to restore peace. To protect freedom. To save us as a state. And to really ensure one vital fact: there will never be another war in Europe. Never again!

In 2014, the world did not fully understand why the Russian occupiers came to our land. Then - to the land of Crimea, partly - to the land of Donbas. And you felt it. After they shot down a Malaysian Boeing flying from Amsterdam.

There can be no doubt that this is a totally unjust war. This is a war that the Russian state cannot be forgiven. Hundreds and hundreds of crimes for which everyone must be held accountable. All those who gave criminal orders. Everyone who carried out these criminal orders. And all those who provided political cover for these criminal orders.

Your city, The Hague, the capital of international justice, knows exactly how to do it. I'm sure they will do it! To assert international law. To assert the rule of law. To assert justice that is clear to everyone on Earth.

But for that to happen, sanctions need to be stepped up. Together with other EU countries, you have to do everything possible so that Russia does not have the resources to continue this war, the war in Europe, and so that there is no political opportunity to hide criminals.

Close your ports to Russian ships! Together with all other EU countries. Stop any trade with this country that has forgotten all the lessons of World War II!

Get ready faster to give up Russia's energy resources, so that billions, billions of euros for them do not go to arms production and mass killings in Ukraine.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Dutch people!

Tyranny must lose. Tyranny must always lose.

And for that to happen, freedom must get all the weapons it needs to win, to defend itself. The weapons that are available on the continent. The weapons you have.

Ukraine is grateful for the support it has already received from you. From your society. From your state. This support is truly unprecedented. It is truly the support of a leader. But the war is so intense, Russian troops are so active that we need more.

"Stingers" and "Panzerfausts" allow you to hold on, to fight. However, this is not a weapon of victory. We desperately need weapons that can make our skies safe, that we can use to unblock our cities where Russia is artificially creating famine.

We need weapons that can drive the occupiers out of our land. Aircraft, tanks, NASAMS air-defense systems and Spike anti-tank systems, shells, missiles and more. You have this list. And I hope you will find an opportunity to help us as much as you can, to help us with that.

The second point. I urge you to influence international institutions! The crimes of the Russian occupiers must be punished. Deportations, massacres, destruction of civilian infrastructure, bombing of hospitals - all this must be answered by the democratic community.

Imagine: Russian troops are deliberately destroying our agricultural sector! They are mining fields, they are blowing up agricultural machinery now. They are doing everything to destroy our potential, agricultural potential, and provoke a food crisis. Not only in Ukraine - in the world.

And they are doing it in a country that could become one of the most powerful agricultural centers in Europe and the world.

But I am confident that we will be able to overcome all this. I am confident that together we will be able to build even more potential. And become a truly global agricultural power.

Third. We already have to think about rebuilding Ukraine. About how we all - not only Ukrainians, but all Europeans - will return to a peaceful life.

I dream of this day. The day when Ukrainian immigrants who arrived in the European Union after the beginning of the Russian aggression will be able to say "thank you" and return home. Return to rebuilt cities, to restored Ukraine.

And I invite your country to join this project - the project of reconstruction of Ukraine. I urge you to choose a city, a region of our state that can see your care, can feel what you can do.

And for everyone in your country who still has doubts to definitely feel that we, Ukrainians, can be with you - in the European Union.

I am convinced that this will reinforce our common European home. And will make the European project even more perfect.

I believe that this will happen very soon! Because it is absolutely rational. With our potential, with our people, with our ability to defend freedom. And you know this perfectly well! And you know very well, my friend Mark, that our accession to the European Union depends very much on you, on your country.

I want to thank you for everything!

Thank you, the Netherlands!

Glory to Ukraine!