Speech to support people in Ukraine
This morning I woke up by a nightmare of me and my brother looking outside our parents’ house, and seeing military fire all over the sky. I guess my mind internalised a video from Kyiv I saw yesterday. And I know why. A friend from Ukraine sent me the following words:
“If the EU stays quiet now, another war will happen in your lifetime, possibly even in your country. Your family and kids might have to wake up to the sound of sirens. They might have to sleep in bomb shelters. Believe me, it's scary.”
It does scare me. It feels as if a tank has entered the hallway of my house. Putin is attacking Ukraine, which means Putin is attacking Europe. That is how I feel it, and if enough people feel it that way, that’s how this war will end up in history books. And if enough people feel it that way, it is also a sign to our governments and the European Union that our membership of NATO doesn’t define what we stand for. If we choose European solidarity, we go beyond arbitrary alliances where one country is a member and one country is not. [Inserted ad hoc] I know historically NATO isn’t arbitrary, but standing here amongst fellow students that I spoke with at the University of Twente, it sure feels arbitrary that we are not helping Ukraine.
We are standing here with generations who are used to live in a Europe at peace. But now we see that peace is not a given. Peace is not for free. Freedom can be taken away from you overnight. You show an extremely important sign by standing here. You use the right to demonstrate on the streets, but we also know that not everyone is able to do that, without getting arrested immediately. You are also standing here for them. For people who feel like showing solidarity, but who don’t live in a free democracy that allows them to do that. I want you let you all know that images from these kind of demonstrations are also shared to Ukrainian people. So you directly help people in Ukraine by just being here and standing here.
My last thought yesterday was about globalisation. It is a vague term, with positive and negative connotations. but now I realised what it means for me. Through meeting friends from all over the world during lectures and events here in Enschede, I’m enriched by diversity, and cultural differences. But I also realise that we all want the same. To live in peace and security. To have the freedom to choose our own path. And meanwhile, share love and joy with each other. You, the Ukrainian and broader international community in Enschede invited everyone to be here today. By being in our lives, more than anything, you broaden our perspective of ‘us’.
This is the time to show what European solidarity means. To show what Europe stands for. We stand next to Ukraine. And that is also what we do here. We stand next to each other.
Thank you very much for that.
I was offered to speak at the demonstration in Enschede, February 26 at 13:00 in Enschede. After the speeches of council member Marjarita Jeliazkova and our mayor, Roelof Bleker, I was announced by the organisation as: “Our next speaker is Erik Kemp, the lead candidate for Volt Europa in Enschede.”
Changes on this page
- 28-2-2022: In the text, I changed Kiev to Kyiv, after someone told me that the way of writing matters for the people in Ukraine. I checked Wikipedia for background knowledge, and changed it afterwards.