President of Ukraine

Europe and other parts of the world should not be a place where the ambitions of tyrants destroy the lives of nations - speech by President of Ukraine at the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen award ceremony

14 May 2023 - 22:49

Europe and other parts of the world should not be a place where the ambitions of tyrants destroy the lives of nations - speech by President of Ukraine at the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen award ceremony

Thank you so much.

A great honor to be here.

Madam Mayor, Mr. Linden, 

Dear Olaf, dear Ursula, Mateusz, Roberta! 

Dear colleagues!

Thank you very much for your kind words about Ukraine and our heroes, and our soldiers, and our children. Thank you very much! They are real heroes! Thank you for Europe, which is now finally able to fulfill the dream that was laid as the basis of European unity!

It is an honor for me to represent the Ukrainian people here today. And each day. Millions of people who are fighting and working for our values and freedom – and for our free Europe. All Ukrainians, each of our heroes deserve to stand here and receive this award.

But since the millions of people just will not fit in this hall, let our language which represents all our people be spoken here today.

The Ukrainian language has never been spoken in these walls – by the awardee. Now, when Ukraine is returning to its native European home, I believe that the Ukrainian language will be spoken here on many occasions from now – while recognizing special contribution to the European unity. 

Ukrainians will always make Europe stronger!


All of us in this room, all who stand with us in defense of freedom and Europe, are more than leaders and politicians, civil society activists and diplomats. We are all founders of peace. Exactly the founders of peace. This is our primary duty to our countries, to our Europe, and to our history.

It is peace that we will leave to our children and grandchildren as a legacy of today. We do not have and do not want any other alternatives. But in order to leave peace as a legacy, we must reach the day when we can say that we are ending this war with our common victory.

Dear Europeans!

History is built on victories, although it also remembers defeats. There were illusions that other bricks for history than victories were possible, but such illusions resulted in the disappearance or, at best, many years of silence in history of those who professed them. Illusions turn into deaths.

The peace of our parents' generation is the peace that was left as a legacy by those who defeated the penultimate great aggression in Europe. And the peace of our children's generation is the peace that we are gaining right now in the battles against the last aggression in Europe.

The battles are taking place more than 2,000 kilometers away from Aachen - on the land of Ukraine, in our skies, in our Black Sea... and in European destiny. This battlefield is the fate of Europe.

Today's Russia has waged aggression not only against us as a free and independent state, not only against a united Europe as a global symbol of peace and prosperity. This is Russia's war for the past. By overcoming kilometers of Ukrainian territory, Russia was trying to overcome years of European history. Our history, the very 73 years when The Charlemagne Prize is awarded here.

We are faced with an aggressor who is willing to go to any lengths of cruelty and meanness to claim that history allegedly does not change... As if it was once, so it will be again. As if whoever has the power will have the territory, any territory the aggressor wants. As if the one who is capable of greater meanness has more rights to Europe. As if civilization is worth absolutely nothing - this is what Russia is manifesting with this genocidal aggression.

We are faced with an aggressor for whom our common European striving for peace and rules means nothing and who wants something for Europe that no free nation, no honest leader, no one in this room would agree with.

We are united in the belief that Europe and all other parts of the world should not be a place where the ambitions of tyrants destroy the lives of nations.

And we must become winners so that it is our view of life that will remain in Europe.

Dear Europe!

Ukraine is offering you a victory that will turn into peace and save you.

Ukraine is offering a victory not just in this war alone, but over aggressions and annexations, the burning of cities, deportations, and the catastrophe of genocide anywhere else on earth. We are offering and bringing closer a common victory over those who have taken all this old evil from the pages of the past to destroy our future, which all of us - all of Europe - dream of for our children.

Russia, of its own free will, has embarked on the path of evil. Our will is enough to cut off this path and the path of any similar aggressors who might someday try to follow Russia.

We will accomplish this task. But only together!

Dear Olaf!

I am now addressing you personally, and through you I am addressing your entire state, the powerful Germany.

Ukraine and the whole of Europe - we honor your choice to be for Europe, to be with Europe. When you saw the Zeitenwende, you acted as a defender of Europe should act.

Europe will always be grateful to you and this German government.

Grateful for your effectiveness in helping Ukraine, for your and your colleagues' effectiveness in defending your country, and for the strength you and all of Germany give to Europe.

Brilliant German IRIS-T that have already saved thousands of lives of our people from Russian missile terror. Powerful German Marders help save the lives of our soldiers as they put pressure on the Russian occupiers. Sturdy German Leopards provide us with the protection we need.

And it is very important that Germany helps not only militarily, but also with its leadership in the economy, in the humanitarian sphere, and in diplomacy.

Last year, Ukraine presented ten points of our Peace Formula, and I believe that Germany will also become one of the leaders in its implementation.

This Russian aggression takes place on our land. And it is our people who are dying every day in the confrontation with this evil, which, by striking Ukraine, strikes at the very idea of a peaceful Europe, at the very idea of a rules-based international order.

We see this evil of aggression closer than anyone, so we also see better than anyone how to defeat this evil, how to prevent its replication in other parts of the world or at other times. And we invite the world to join our just and fair principles of peace.

Everyone who joins our formula actually makes it their own. And I am sure that the Ukrainian formula for peace can become a German formula for peace, a European formula for peace, a formula for peace for the world.

The only one who does not accept it is the aggressor. And it is because he is the aggressor that he does not accept it. But what is most important is that he is alone, and we are not afraid of him. And he does not accept this because he is not interested in peace. This is it.

There were hundreds of rounds of negotiations between 2014 and 2022 in various formats with Russia after its occupation of our Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and the incitement of a hybrid war against Ukraine in Donbas. There were all these negotiations.

And you, Olaf, Mr. Chancellor, you remember, and our ally President Emmanuel Macron, and other conscientious leaders of the world spent hours and hours talking to Putin, trying to avert this modern-day catastrophe.

But Putin has chosen catastrophe. Alone.

Now everyone understands what we understand. Putin is a catastrophe. This is the answer. Putin is an aggression, and he does not want anything else for himself and his people. His formula has become death.

How can one talk to it, explain to me, how to talk to it? In its long history, humanity has never known anyone who could reach an agreement with death.

The one who brought death, the one who embarked on the path of genocide, the one who wants to destroy us, the one who wants to destroy the Europe we value must ask for mercy. And then there will be our response - a tribunal.

Our determination will lead to the fact that we will also see Russia's interest in our efforts for peace. And it will happen. When there is no source of death there.

We can win! And we are already bringing the victory closer, as it has been repeatedly proven by the tears of joy of children and adults, women, men, young and old, whom our soldiers liberated from Russian occupation. Wherever our blue and yellow flag returns to the liberated land, Europe returns. Our Europe! The values return that you - just like us - defended on your squares and enshrined in your constitutions.

It is a fact that freedom for our people whom Russia tried to enslave is ensured by the bravery of our warriors and the weapons, including yours, of all those who help us defend ourselves. And now only weapons will stop this death. And this is a fact.

That is why it is important to be firm and resolute in helping Ukrainian soldiers with weapons.

It has often been said, including here in Aachen, during the award ceremony of this prestigious prize, that Europe must become one of the world's superpowers. Unlike other similar powers, Europe has this potential only when nothing but European Unity becomes a superpower. And we see it now: the superpower of European Unity. We see it thanks to Ukraine and thanks to each and every one of you. Thank you.

Your solidarity and leadership, dear colleagues, in particular your solidarity and leadership, Ursula, with which the European Union has responded to our courage, reflected the basic principles that Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Jean Monnet sought for Europe. They would be proud of each and every one of you who is defending Europe together with Ukraine!

Ukrainian courage and your solidarity have given Europe a unity that has never been seen before.

The time has come to enshrine this strength of our unity with the decision on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. You know that Europe is not complete without Ukraine in the European Union. And I thank you, Olaf, I thank every leader in Europe who supports the completeness of the European project.

There is no rational reason why our soldiers, who are fighting so heroically and successfully for our common freedom, our common values, are not yet in the same organization as all other soldiers of the Alliance.

Judging by the results of our actions, Ukraine is already in the Alliance, but the de jure decision has not yet been made. This decision should be made! And it is worth defining an algorithm - it motivates our soldiers. And this is important!

In addition to strengthening the entire Euro-Atlantic region with the courage of Ukrainians, our accession to the Alliance will definitely yield another historic result - NATO flags next to the flags of Ukraine on our eastern border will become a powerful lock that will keep Russian imperialism in the past forever. In the past that cannot be returned, because without control over Ukraine, Russian imperialism is dying.

And there is another prerequisite for our common victory, which Ukraine is offering.

Europe's longest-lasting peace and most reliable security have been ensured by building ties between the peoples of Europe instead of barriers.

And when we now see, instead of strengthening our ties, any fresh barriers that are so reminiscent of old mistakes, whether they are barriers in politics, or barriers in economics, or in trade, we see a threat not to one European nation, but to the whole of Europe.

Mateusz! I am very grateful for the great support from Poland to Ukraine. Thank you very much! And it is very important for us to maintain this unity.

Any seeds of misunderstanding between anyone in Europe should not give rise to conflict! And this is in the fundamental interests of our peoples. Europe gains strength and prosperity every time there is minus one barrier on the continent.

Dear participants! 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today I spoke only about what is necessary for our common victory, and therefore only about what is necessary for sustainable peace for all of us.

I dream of Europe becoming victorious! I know that Ukrainians can win! I urge all of you to become winners together with us, together with Ukrainians!

This time has come! It is now being decided what the outcome of this war will be and whether this is really the last aggression in Europe.

Everything depends on our unity, on our speed, on our determination to win.

So my main appeal to you today is to be worthy of Charlemagne's character! Win!

Establish peace, which will be the fruit of our common victory and which we will leave to our children and grandchildren as our main legacy, the legacy of Europe!

And if anyone still has doubts about whether to support the Ukrainian people, please, here in Aachen or in any other city of our beautiful free Europe, please go outside, look around you, feel the main thing we strive for, the thing that is given to us all by peace and respect in Europe. Feel the freedom that is simply there!

And we are fighting for it. And we will win.

Glory to all our warriors who are in combat today for the sake of Ukraine, at combat posts and on combat missions!

Glory to all who train Ukrainian warriors!

Glory to all who help, who work, who fight!

Ukraine will win! Europe will win!

Peace will prevail!

Glory to Ukraine!