Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is a key player in the defense of Ukraine and increases the morale of his citizens and soldiers through speeches that are promoted on social media networks. Always in a military t-shirt, Zelensky has had the virtue of finding the right message for each forum, as he demonstrated again last week when he spoke via videoconference before EU leaders.
He told them that sanctions against Russia have come “a little late,” although he ended his speech by saying that his country “believes in the European Union.”
“They have approved sanctions. We are grateful. These are powerful steps. But it was a little late. Because if it had been preemptive, Russia would not have gone to war,” Zelensky told the European Union heads of state and government.
A month into the invasion, Zelensky sent the EU a clear message: “During this month you have compared these worlds. You saw who is worth what. And you saw that Ukraine should be in the EU in the near future.”
But the novelty of Zelensky’s speech is the review he gave to each EU country, with special attention to Hungary. Zelensky specifically asked Viktor Orbán to remember the tragic moments of his life and decide who he is with.
Orban and the shoe monument in Budapest
“Hungary… I want to stop here and be honest. Once and for all. You have to decide who you are with. You are a sovereign state. I’ve been to Budapest. I love your city. I’ve been many times, a very beautiful city and very hospitable. And the people, too. You have had tragic moments in your life. I visited your promenade. I saw this memorial… Shoes on the shore of the Danube. About mass murders. I was there with my family.”
“Listen, Viktor, do you know what’s going on in Mariupol?” asks Zelensky.
“Please, if you can, go to your promenade. Look at those shoes. You will see how mass murders can happen again in today’s world. And that’s what Russia is doing. The same shoes. In Mariupol, there are the same people. Adults and children. Grandparents. And there are thousands of them. And these thousands are gone,” he continues.
“And you hesitate whether to impose sanctions or not? And you hesitate whether to let weapons through or not? And you hesitate whether to trade with Russia or not? There is no time to hesitate. It’s time to decide now. We believe in you. We need your support. We believe in your people.”
The Shoe Monument in Budapest is located at the edge of the Danube. It is an artistic work that aims to remember the barbarism that took place in the city during World War II.
The Jews of Budapest were tied in pairs, and after shooting one of them, they were thrown into the river. The row of shoes is intended to remember those people as if they had not disappeared, as if their shoes were still waiting for their owners to come back out of the water after taking a bath.
Europe according to Zelensky
“Lithuania is with us.”
“Latvia is with us.”
“Estonia is with us.”
“Poland is with us.”
“France—Emmanuel, I really believe that you are with us”
“Slovenia, you are with us.”
“Slovakia, you are with us.”
“Czech Republic is with us”
“Romania knows what dignity is and will be with us at the crucial moment.”
“Bulgaria is with us.”
“Greece, I think, is with us.”
“Germany… a bit late”. “We believe that Germany will also be with us at the crucial moment.”
“Portugal, well, almost…”
“Croatia is with us.”
“Sweden: yellow and blue must always be together.”
“Finland, I know you are with us.”
“Holland is with the rational, so we’ll find common ground.”
“Malta, I think we will make it.”
“Denmark, I think we will make it.”
“Luxembourg, we understand each other.”
“Cyprus, I really believe you are with us.”
“Italy, thank you for your support.”
“Spain: we will find common ground.”
“Belgium: we will find arguments.”
“Austria, along with Ukrainians, is an opportunity for you. I am sure of it.”