Recently, Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia Dr. Mykola Kulinich visited Western Sydney University at the invitation of Sev Ozdowski Ph.D. and delivered there a public lecture entitled “Ukraine in Europe: Today and Tomorrow.” He told the audience about Ukraine’s European choice, its achievements in recent years, and strategic plans for the future. The lecture also discussed the annexation of Crimea and the war between Ukraine and Russia, which had killed over 10,300 people, injured many more and displaced over 1.8 million from the Donbas. We asked the chief of our diplomatic mission in Australia to share with readers of The Day the main theses of his speech in front of Australian students.
1. For Ukraine Euro-integration is not simply a slogan, it is a return to its historical, geographical and civilization identity. For according to these parameters, Ukraine was always a part of Europe (Geographical centre of Europe situated in Rakhiv). And as I always repeat we are not neighbor of Europe we are neighbor of EU.
2. Ukraine has at last understood that European integration is not a single-step action, but more an in-depth process. People have understood that our progress depends on fundamental internal transformations. That our goal is not exclusively formal membership, but the achievement of a level of standards which are indicative of EU membership.
3. You all know how the Russian Federation acts in the information field, in the nourishing of radical nationalist movements, using Russian speaking minorities to provoke contrived tension on the borders of the EU and NATO (though its own citizens within Russia have real problems in everyday life). This is done in order to weaken Western institutions, to undermine the transatlantic partnership, to use the informational openness of democratic societies to manipulate politics and discredit the idea of a united Europe and a strong NATO in the eyes of the Europeans themselves, and in the eyes of those who seek to become a part of a united European family.
And it is not just an attack on Ukraine, the EU or NATO. It is a war against the basic values and principles of democracy. An attempt to cast doubt on the democratic type of decision-making in a global scale.
4. Today we are ridding ourselves of the postulate that there is no alternative to economic dependence on the Russian Federation, replacing it with a European scale of values. The eradication of notions imposed upon us by Russia is going on simultaneously with changes of game rules in Ukrainian society. In other words, we are changing the game rules to change people’s mentality. Re-thinking is a key concept for protecting freedom and democracy.
5. In 2008, during the NATO Bucharest Summit, Ukraine approached its Western partners to provide a Membership Action Plan (MAP). It was refused, but however agreed that membership can be possible in the future. This action was wrongly interpreted by the Russian Federation as NATO’s willingness to accept the concept of “zones of influence.” An immediate consequence of this was the Russian war with Georgia in August 2008.
6. We are very sure that Ukraine can be not only recipient of European security but contributor to it.
7. Since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, our Armed Forces went through deep reformation. Now Ukraine has one of the largest standing and capable Armed Forces in Europe. Ukraine demonstrates its resilience to combat a hybrid warfare unleashed by Russia against our country. Strong Ukrainian Army, our unique combat experience in fighting against Russian hybrid aggression is a beneficial asset for Allies. Ukraine is de facto NATO’s Eastern flank.
8. I am convinced that, achieving criteria of NATO membership with the transformation of our economic, political and legal system we will also represent added value to the Alliance.
9. “Skripal case” became wake up call for Western democracy. The barrage of lies and threats with which Russia responded to being called upon to explain itself seem to have mobilized the West into a surprisingly vigorous and unified response.
10. We are not calling anyone to go to war, but are seeking for support.
11. We really appreciate the Australian government support for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
12. We will not let the third forces divert Ukraine from its European path, or stop the EU and NATO from enhancing and strengthening their role.
13. The time has come to defend what’s ours. That is why each of us must make a choice.
Ukraine has made its choice, a choice for democratic values and freedom. Ukraine is making its way to Europe.