President of Ukraine

Address by the President of Ukraine on the occasion of the Day of Dignity and Freedom

21 November 2023 - 09:01

Address by the President of Ukraine on the occasion of the Day of Dignity and Freedom

Dear Ukrainian people! 

European people!

Today we celebrate the Day of Dignity and Freedom. It is a public holiday established in honor of the beginning of two revolutions – the Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity 10 years ago.

10 years ago, we started a new page in the struggle. 10 years ago, Ukrainians launched their first counteroffensive. Against lawlessness, against the attempt to deprive us of our European future. Against our subjugation.

10 years ago, people united not only against something, but above all for themselves. Everyone for everyone. All those who after the arbitrariness of force felt that they are also being beaten, that they are also hurt, that these are blows to justice and truth, to freedom, to our common tomorrow. What will it be like if we remain silent, swallow it, and fear instead of fighting?

And then, in fact, the first victory in today's war took place. The victory of non-indifference. The victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity. The victory of people's resistance, civil society, the feat of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and all those who fought for freedom in the capital and other regions.

Our people have a long way behind them, which we have already passed. Behind me today are the flags of Ukraine and the European Union. And today we have the right to say: this is not just an adornment of the square, a decoration, a fiction, this is a real symbol of Ukraine's inseparability from Europe, the right to which the Ukrainian nation and the Ukrainian state have been proving all this time.

Year after year, step by step, we do everything to ensure that our star shines in the circle of stars on the EU flag, which symbolizes the unity of the peoples of Europe. The star of Ukraine.

20 years ago it was a romantic dream, 10 years ago it was an ambitious goal, and today it is a reality in which it is no longer possible to stop our progress and completion of all mandatory stages. Therefore, our candidate status and further accession negotiations should certainly result in Ukraine's full membership in the EU. And we are doing all this despite the war. When our people are defending themselves and Europe right now. Because we have dignity and we will not allow our freedom to be taken away from us. Because we have to protect our freedom in order not to lose our dignity. Because we know and remember one of the important wisdoms we learned long ago: how important it is not to be afraid, how important it is to fight.

And every time they try to take something away from us, more and more people stand up to resist it. When the barricades of Maidan turn into the trenches of Donbas, and then into resistance along the entire frontline – north, south, and east. When the defense of democratic values turns into the defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity. When opposition to dictators inside the country becomes resistance to occupiers and terrorists from outside. When the whole country rises on February 24, when our entire nation rises to new barricades. Struggling and fighting. Knowing what for. Remembering everything. Having survived multiple "winters on fire". Both 10 years ago and last year. Yesterday and today. We fought and we are still fighting. Both in the center of the capital back then and on the outskirts of Bakhmut now. On Hrushevskoho Street then and near Kharkiv, near Kherson, near Avdiivka now. All those who bravely went to battle for freedom with wooden shields back then, who defended the country in the first days of hostilities in the east, and all those who have been defending us in all directions since February 24. All those who were not afraid of rubber bullets or stun grenades then, or all the weapons and equipment of the so-called second army of the world today. Those who were not afraid and are not afraid to go out for freedom, wrapped in the Ukrainian flag. On Independence Square in Kyiv back then, on Freedom Square in Kherson last year. All those who selflessly pulled out the wounded on Instytutska Street back then, and all those who are doing it now on the battlefield. Everyone who knows and proves that we must struggle and fight – everyone for everyone. In every episode of confrontation. For one building or for the whole region. For one street or for the left bank of the whole country. For one barricade or along the entire state border of Ukraine.

And today a new round of our history is being written. And today it is up to our generation to determine the direction it will take. What will be written about us in history books. What our descendants will say about us. "They fought but failed" or "They fought and won"?

Like every state, ours has dark and bright pages in its history. Times of prosperity and times of discord. Periods of glory and periods of ruin. Which can last for decades. They can swing from side to side, like the history of the place behind me. From the middle of the XIX century, when European Square became Tsarskaya Square. And later - the Third International Square. And during the occupation, it was planned to be renamed in honor of Hitler. And even after the Nazis were expelled, it does not become European again, but turns into Stalin Square, and later Lenin Komsomol Square. And all this is not just plaques on buildings, it is the consequences that a wrong turn at the crossroads of history can have.

When statesmen are replaced by windbag politicians. When they fight for chairs, not people, when their own egos become more important than their own country, when they do not stand up to the end and the prefix "in exile" is added to the status of "leader," "head," or "hetman." When the enemy manages to split the internal unity. When we quarrel, and then get tired and desperate. And then we survive. In new periods of new captivity and statelessness. When the enemy manages to undermine international support and solidarity. When the civilized world begins to seek compromises with terrorists and make concessions to tyrants. Then we all definitely lose. Ukraine. Europe. The whole world. We lose, naively thinking that there can be a draw with them. A draw is impossible.

We are strong. We have to be strong. Because people believe in the strong only, and only the strong create the future. Only the strong can be united. United to become free. Free to be worthy. For the sake of new times. When the central squares of our cities will receive new and forever unchanged names. In honor of the heroes. In honor of the liberators. Of Mariupol, Berdyansk, Melitopol. In honor of the liberation of Donbas and Crimea. In honor of the reunification of Ukraine within its borders. When in history books, years and centuries from now, the period of independence since 1991 will be written about as a continuous one.

Years and centuries from now. When listening about Ukraine as an integral part of Europe, all future generations will ask in schools: how could it have been otherwise? When in our calendar alongside the Days of Independence, Statehood, Unity, Dignity and Freedom, the Day of Victory appears. Victory of Ukraine. Of decent and free people. With a capital letter.

Happy Dignity and Freedom Day, great people! Great with a capital "G". Strong people of a strong country! 

Glory to Ukraine!