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François Bayrou: "This assault had the effect of an electroshock"

Monument of Independence in Kiev, Ukraine
Andreas Wolochow / Shutterstock.com

"The presence of each of you is a sign of the considerable emotion felt by the French, all Europeans and many public opinions in the world, in the face of the insane decision taken by Vladimir Putin, locked up in the solitude of his dictatorship, ready to do anything for an insane project, an expansionist, imperialist project, which we have already seen in our history, which is to take over neighbouring territory, as was done four or five centuries ago.

War is obviously the means chosen. A war of conquest, disregarding all the principles that the peoples had established after the Second World War and between the First and Second World Wars, in order to give themselves principles to respect. Respecting independence, respecting the freedom of peoples and the integrity of states. This is what Vladimir Putin has decided to break. When we reread history, we see that this plan has been in motion for years, even since his appointment. This plan consists of laying down milestones, taking decisions that are linked to each other and seeking out relays in public opinion to defend indefensible theses. This military conquest, this invasion of an independent country, Ukraine, recognised by the international community, is having the effect of an electroshock on all the peoples that we constitute in the great European group and in the European Union of course. Finland and Sweden, for example, decided to leave the neutrality that had been imposed on them for decades, shocked as they were by this offensive. There is only one people on whom it could not have had this effect. It is the Russian people because they have no information. We contacted friends who explained to us that in Russian public opinion, it is said that this is an operation to maintain order in Donbass. And nothing is said about the assault on Ukraine, the assault on Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. This is obviously something that is all the more shocking. That is why we all have a responsibility. All of us, as French citizens, as European citizens, as citizens of the world, who refuse to see the nightmares that we have already, alas, experienced too much of in the past century.

There is a second point. Elsewhere in the world, other powers are dreaming of repeating an operation like this one. This is why our alert, our mobilisation, our protest must be amplified, because I am not sure that we are at the end of this tragedy. So thank you all for being here.

Obviously, we will look for more direct ways to help the Ukrainian people. First of all, because we can participate in transmitting relief, aid and additional material resources to help the Ukrainian government and people. And because we will have to take in refugees. In the last few days, I have received several proposals from our fellow citizens who say they are ready to receive refugees who may need our help and attention.

I want to say one last word: this gathering also has the sense of admiring support for the Ukrainian leader who is resisting. President Zelensky's courage honours the mission of a statesman, equal to history. And I am proud that European leaders have taken decisive steps. For a very long time, it was deplored that European governments were timid, hesitant in many areas that concern defence and freedom. There is an columnist who has said that in 24 hours, we have taken more important steps than in forty years, in the solidarity of the European peoples and in the realisation that freedom must be defended. That is why I am particularly happy about your presence, about the presence of the elected representatives. Thank you all because what you are doing here goes far beyond the usual gestures in the usual situations. We are in an extraordinarily dangerous situation and your presence is for me a determining sign of our mobilisation. Thank you all and long live free Ukraine.

François Bayrou
Pau, le 28 février 2022