The Ukrainian President spoke online before the Bundestag.
Speaking by video link to deputies of the German parliament, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that for many years Germany had made a choice in favor of economic benefits instead of supporting the values of freedom, and despite all warnings, continued to build “Nord Stream-2.” As you know, its commissioning was suspended only on February 22 after Russia recognized the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR. Thus, Zelenskiy believes, Germany actually helped isolate Ukraine and build a “wall” between it and Europe.
“During the three weeks of the war for our lives and our freedom, we became convinced of what we felt before, and what probably not all of you noticed – you are again behind the wall, but not behind Berlin, but behind the one that is in the middle of Europe between freedom and non-freedom, and this wall is growing with every bomb that falls on our land, with every decision that could help, but has not been made,” Zelenskiy said.
Also in his speech, the President of Ukraine mentioned the Holocaust and said that his lessons are now useless. “Every year in Germany, politicians say “never again.” Now I see that these words are worthless. People are being destroyed in Europe,” he said.
Zelenskiy reproached Germany for delaying Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the European Union, guided by its political considerations, did not impose preventive sanctions against Russia, and those that the European Union adopted after the Russian invasion were not enough.
Addressing German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelenskiy called for “destroying the wall erected between Ukraine and Europe, demonstrating his leadership and doing everything to stop the war.” Zelenskiy’s speech in the Bundestag was greeted with applause, and the vice-president of the Bundestag, Katrin Goring-Eckardt, said that “Putin tried to deprive Ukraine of the right to exist, but he has already failed.”
At the same time, the number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe is growing every day. More than 147,000 Ukrainians fleeing shelling have already been registered in Germany alone. Almost 2 million are located in Poland, as well as the majority in Hungary, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia. In total, more than 3 million people have left Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
The European Union has adopted an act on temporary assistance to Ukrainian refugees, according to which people fleeing the war immediately receive the right to residency and work. This, according to experts, is much more effective than the usual asylum procedure, when you need to wait from 4 to 6 months for a work permit, depending on the European country. At the same time, it is still not easy to find housing, find a job, get documents and send children to school.
“There are a number of challenges that lawmakers should and are already paying attention to,” says Marie de Somer, head of the migration program at the European Policy Centre (EPC). – Firstly, what to do with the language barrier, and secondly, how to recognize qualifications for work. We should also not forget that there are a lot of women and children in this migration wave. They leave the country without their husbands and partners, and this leads to the fact that there is an extra need for a new social system of child care – quality services where women could leave their children and go to work. This is an absolutely new challenge in this context, and it needs to be done so that the labor market is accessible to Ukrainian refugees.”
One of the main humanitarian issues currently being discussed in the European Council is what to do with the education of Ukrainian children fleeing the war. There are two main directions so far: to create Ukrainian schools that will teach children in their native language, or to try to integrate Ukrainian children into local education systems, pre-teaching the language spoken in the country. Legislators have yet to work out all this. In general, experts say, it is difficult to predict what measures will be effective now, since it is unclear when the war will end and when people will be able to return home.