President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in the Europe Unity For Well-Being event initiated by Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv as part of the EUniWell Alliance of European Universities.
The Head of State dedicated his speech to bravery, as it is important in all spheres of life: in the life of a person, in the life of a state, and in the life of the entire European continent.
"Would we be here today if 80 years ago the free peoples of the world had not shown enough bravery to destroy the evil of Nazism? Obviously, if there had been a lack of bravery then, we would not be here today," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to him, after the Second World War, the space of freedom in Europe and almost everywhere else in the world was steadily expanding, as people were becoming braver. However, as the Head of State noted, freedom had to be fought for because there were opponents of freedom and autocrats who believed that they could afford not to give people this or that right.
"All of you can look at the path that your countries have taken in the struggle for freedom for people, in the struggle for our Europe, which we know and value, and see that it was the path of courage - of specific courageous people who built our community of free nations," the President said.
He emphasized that these days we cannot give in to the illusion that the battle for freedom is over and that bravery will never be needed again.
"This brutal terrorist war waged by Russia against Ukraine is a reminder to each of our countries, to each and every one of you personally that you may need courage today just as courage was needed at any other time to protect freedom and our European values," the Head of State emphasized.
According to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, personal bravery grows into the bravery of societies, peoples and states, and as a result, into the bravery of the continent.
"Europe is exactly like that now - brave. It makes decisions, supports the defense of freedom, and puts pressure on the aggressor. What makes this happen? The bravery of leaders. And the bravery of ordinary people who are followed by leaders," he explained.
The President expressed his belief that it is through courage that Ukraine and its allies will win this brutal war unleashed by Russia and overcome the Russian ideology of hatred for European freedom.
"Moreover, our victory now, when Russian aggression has affected only Ukraine, will do what we failed to do in the decisive decade before the Second World War. We will destroy the total evil at its roots, when it has not yet had time to spread aggression to other nations of Europe," the Head of State emphasized.
At the same time, he said, even after our victory, we must not lose bravery.
"You must not lose your bravery! No one knows the time when they may have to defend freedom. No one knows for sure what threats to freedom may arise in a year, in five years. If you have to defend freedom, please be brave! Please do not surrender your values to those who seek to destroy them. Fight so that the space of freedom does not lose anything. If people hadn't done this before us, we wouldn't be here today. If we don't do this, will freedom survive after us?" the President of Ukraine said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy wished every student to find a field in which their courage could bring more freedom and opportunities to the whole of Europe.
"I sincerely wish your generation to pass on to your children an even freer, more united and more secure Europe than we can provide now and will definitely provide," the Head of State noted.
Answering the students' questions, Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukrainians are now defending European values in the fight against Russia, so Ukraine can be considered a pillar of the democratic world.
"Ukraine is a wall between absolute autocracy and democracy. And that is why we must endure. In order to be a true pillar of a powerful and independent Europe in the future. That is why we are holding this wall firmly," the President said.
According to the Head of State, Europeans must also realize that citizens of Ukraine, despite having once been in the USSR, are Europeans by their very nature, profess the same values and, most importantly, defend them today. That is why EU citizens should continue to support Ukraine and help in the fight against the Russian aggressor.
"Not on the battlefield in Ukraine - we can handle that ourselves. But it is very important that you put pressure on your societies, stay united in helping and supporting Ukraine, and condemn Russia's aggression. And put pressure on your political leaders who should help Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia should be powerful, weapons should be transferred without delay, help for Ukraine in its defense in the information space should be total," Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized and added that Russia is waging a war not only against Ukraine, but also against Europe.
The President emphasized that the war must end with the withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian territories and not turn into a frozen conflict in Europe.
"We want to push Russian troops out of our territory. We do not want any further continuation of the war. We just want to be free and remind that we are not in President Putin's puppet theater. We are a self-sufficient state," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
He also noted that after the war is over, Ukraine, a future full-fledged EU member, will need to rebuild, as many cities and communities have been destroyed by hostilities.
"All this will require help: in work, in development, in contribution to the renovation of Ukraine. Therefore, we invite energetic people, students with their ideas and knowledge to Ukraine to restore our country," the President said.
The Head of State congratulated everyone on Europe Day and invited them to celebrate this day in peaceful Ukraine next year.
The EUniWell Alliance unites 11 European universities (total number of students is 337 thousand): Linnaeus University (Sweden), University of Nantes (France), Semmelweis University (Hungary), University of Birmingham (UK), University of Cologne (Germany), University of Florence (Italy), University of Konstanz (Germany), University of Murcia (Spain), University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine), National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations INALCO (France). The event was broadcast to all 11 EUniWell universities.