Volodymyr Selenskyj thanks the Germans in the Bundestag

Volodymyr Selenskyj thanks the Germans in the Bundestag

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is speaking to the Germans for the second time. Two years ago he made harsh accusations – this time in the Bundestag he is putting gratitude above differences.

What a difference. The Ukrainian president has not even spoken for a minute and you already suspect that this time everything will be different.

He wanted to thank the Bundestag, said Volodymyr Selenskyj at the beginning of his speech, “that humanity prevails in your hearts.” The hall in front of him is well filled, only the Sahra Wagenknecht coalition stayed away from Selenskyj’s appearance. Only four representatives from the AfD came, behind them many empty blue upholstered chairs.

Germany did not stand aside but helped Ukraine, says Zelenskyj.

In front of him, in a semicircle, grouped around three bouquets of flowers in the Ukrainian colors blue and yellow, sit the representatives of the constitutional bodies. Among them are the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor, both of whom have a difficult history with the Ukrainian President. One because of his previous Russia policy as Foreign Minister, the other because of his supposedly too hesitant aid in the first months of the war. Manuela Schwesig is also there, the acting President of the Federal Council, who as Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania long believed in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline and maintained dubious contacts with Russia to achieve this.

But all of this may not be forgotten at this moment, but repressed. This time everything should be different. Zelenskyj says bluntly: “Thank you, Germany.”

The second speech to Parliament – ​​the first on site

The appearance in the Bundestag this Tuesday is the highlight of Zelensky’s visit to Berlin. It is the first time he is here in person. Three weeks after the Russian attack, Zelensky had already spoken to the MPs, but at that time via video from Kyiv. On March 17, 2022, his speech contained little thanks, but many accusations against Germany. He criticized economic relations with Russia, “with a state,” as he said at the time, “that is simply using you and some other states to finance the war.”

Selenskyj said at the time that it seemed to him as if the Germans were once again behind a wall that was growing larger with every decision that was not made. In his view, this meant the lack of arms deliveries to Ukraine, but also too lax economic sanctions against Russia. He asked MPs and the government insistently: What is Germany’s historical responsibility worth 80 years after the Second World War? He received no answers.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz sat on the government bench and listened with a stony face. The plenum applauded after the speech, but there was no reaction, let alone a discussion. Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt came under criticism because she simply continued the session along the agenda. The next topic at the time: compulsory vaccination.

Russia must pay for the damage, demands Volodymyr Selenskyj

This time everything is different. “The divided Europe was never peaceful, the divided Germany was never happy,” says the president. That is why the Germans can understand so well why Ukraine does not want to be divided. Those Ukrainians whose relatives remained on the battlefields deserve a dignified end to the war. And the person who started the war must be held accountable. Russia must pay for the damage. There must be no ruins, says Zelensky. Available Russian money must be used for this. Putin “relied on murder, not on contracts.” Russia must not be allowed to march through Europe again. It is in our common interest that Putin loses personally.

Again he uses the image of a wall, which he finds particularly suitable for speeches to the Germans. But this time he uses it quite differently, with a positive note:

Before 1989, no one expected that the Berlin Wall could fall so quickly. Change and peace are possible: “There are no walls that do not fall,” says Selenskyj.

No one had expected how long Ukraine would be able to defend itself, said the President. This was made possible by the help of Germany and other allies. He specifically mentioned the Patriot missiles from Germany, which had “saved thousands of lives”. He thanked them for this, said Zelenskyi, and suddenly applauded his audience at the lectern.

Long applause at the end of the speech

“We want to give diplomacy a chance,” said Zelensky, referring to the upcoming conferences on Ukraine and the G7 summit in Italy, where he is also expected to attend as a guest. They must work together and Ukraine must become a “member of the European security area” – a term for two institutions: the European Union and NATO.

Everyone in the room knows that it will take some time. Even Zelensky. But on this day, unity comes before differences. The applause at the end of the speech is long. The Germans seem almost relieved that things were so different this time.

Source: Stern

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