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Prime Minister at the presentation of the Knight of Freedom Award to the People of Ukraine: Ukraine is invincible!

Date

2022 10 05

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Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, attending a Warsaw Security Forum, delivered a laudation speech at the Knight of Freedom Award ceremony. This year, the Award has been given to the People of Ukraine for their remarkable bravery in the fight for the most important principles of democracy: freedom, security, and justice, and unprecedented endurance in facing the Russian brutal military aggression and avid imperialism. It was accepted by First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska on behalf of the Ukrainian nation.

In her laudation speech, Prime Minister Šimonytė recalled the history of the liberation of Lithuania and the other Baltic States from the Soviet Union - the peaceful crowd that demanded freedom on the Baltic Way and defended it on 13 January.

‘And I learned one thing very clearly: a country is only as strong as the resolve of its people to fight for their freedom and to defend their homeland. Today I can say with full certainty – ‘Ukraine is invincible!’, said the Prime Minister.

According to Ingrida Šimonytė, whoever chose to be blind, can now see, with full clarity, that the people of Ukraine will be standing for every inch of their territory and the right of each and every child of Ukraine to be raised in a free and independent homeland. That Ukraine will win this war in the end.

‘Many have feared that Kyiv would indeed fall – if not in three days, then in a couple of weeks. Many have feared that people of Ukraine might not persevere, even with all our heartfelt support and all the help we could give. But the army of 44 million did not fear. Ukraine has shown to the whole world how the “2nd mightiest army in the world” chokes on the bravery and courage of the freedom loving people. Whoever chose to be blind, can now see, with full clarity, that the people of Ukraine will be standing for every inch of their territory and the right of each and every child of Ukraine to be raised in a free and independent homeland. That Ukraine will win this war in the end – or else, it will not be the end’, said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in her laudation speech.

Gradually, our fear paled against the admiration of the bravery and courage of the people of Ukraine, added the Prime Minister.

‘Because it takes courage to take up arms and fight for your country. To give up safety abroad and return, in millions, to join brothers and sisters in arms – in full and conscious readiness to sacrifice their life for their country. 

It takes courage to remain in the cities and villages; to provide medical care for people in bomb shelters; to rescue victims from the wreckage; to extinguish fires; to demine and repair destroyed bridges, roads, and houses; to deliver food and teach children under falling Russian missiles. It takes courage to fulfil everyday tasks such as farming, planting, and harvesting – risking being blown on a landmine any minute. 

It takes courage to keep the state functioning and reforms ongoing, even speeding them up to fast forward Ukraine on the path towards EU and NATO membership. 

It takes courage to stay as a walking target and lead the fight, refusing the offer for a ride and asking for weapons and ammunition instead – as your husband, Madam Zelenska, did. As did all the leadership of Ukraine.

And it also takes courage to leave home to bring your children and elderly to safety. To travel thousands of kilometres, often under shelling, and to start a new if temporary life in a foreign country, submitting to the good will of complete strangers’, said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, adding that Ukrainian bravery is changing the world, making every country and every person decide on which side of the history they want to be. 

‘I only pray that we, in the West, maintain a fraction of this courage to keep our unity and not tremble under Russia’s constant bullying, energy blackmail and nuclear sabre rattling’, said the Head of Lithuania’s Government. 

‘I think it is only fitting and symbolic that you, Madam Zelenska, are receiving it on behalf of your nation. Because even though you might have not chosen this role, today you embody every woman of Ukraine who puts fear aside and does her own part in helping Ukraine win. And you carry this task with patience and grace I truly admire. 

This award might be one of the many the invincible people of Ukraine will rightfully receive. But the biggest award of all – I have no doubt – will be the one of their own making. The victory of good over evil. The victory of Ukraine’, said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. 

Founded in 2005, the Knight of Freedom Award is presented annually at the Warsaw Security Forum by the Kazimierz Pulaski Foundation. It was previously awarded to Lithuanian Presidents Valdas Adamkus (2009) and Dalia Grybauskaitė (2019), also to former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny and others.

Full speech in Lithuanian and English languages.