by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the 25th Anniversary of the European Prayer Breakfast at EU Parliament
Thank you Peter.
Julia, Gor, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to join you today – in prayer and in giving thanks for the many things for which we can be grateful.
In dark times like these, it is easy to forget to give thanks. And hope can feel like naivety. But we must not, we cannot, give in to despair.
Psalm 100 says, ‘For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.’
‘His love endures.’
It endures through times good and bad. Through peace and war. Through freedom and oppression.
I know this to be true.
I grew up, like many others here, under Communism. We had no rights, no freedom. Our rulers chose themselves, and opposition was met with brutality and barbarism.
But we endured. Even in the darkest of days, we had hope. We hoped that one day we would be free. Free to choose. To think. To speak.
And that day came. The wall fell, and so did Communism. We had new opportunities and we seized them. Democracy, membership of NATO and the European Union. Cementing our freedom, our security and our prosperity.
Now President Putin is seeking to turn back time with a war of aggression against a peaceful nation - sovereign, democratic Ukraine.
Many thousands are dead. Homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed. Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure aims to use winter itself as a weapon of war.
It is during times of war that the light is hardest to see. But that is when we must depend on our inner compass to guide us down the right path. When we must come together, show solidarity and draw most deeply upon our faith.
Our faith that good will prevail, that freedom will prevail, that one day Ukraine will prevail. NATO and the EU are working together to make that day come as quickly as possible.
We have supported Ukraine since it first gained its independence. We increased that support after Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. And since Russia’s fully-fledged invasion in February, NATO Allies are providing unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support.
Just last week, NATO Foreign Ministers met in Bucharest and pledged further assistance. With more weapons to help Ukraine defend itself. And more non-lethal aid, such as fuel and generators, as part of NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package. To help Ukraine make it through the long winter months.
NATO is not a party to the war, but we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. We are united in our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their right to live in peace and freedom.
We will not back down. Because if we do, the lesson learned by President Putin and other authoritarian leaders is that they can achieve their goals through aggression and violence. They will be emboldened to use force again, making our world more dangerous. This cannot happen.
NATO’s support, Europe’s support, North America’s support, but mostly the extraordinary bravery, skill and determination of Ukraine’s armed forces, is giving its people the most precious gift of all – hope.
Hope that the war will end. Hope that Ukraine will prevail. And hope that one day it will stand tall and free within the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.
History shows us that hope can become reality. My own experience tells me that. Let’s all make sure it does once again. For Ukraine. And for all of us
Thank you, and God bless you.