Marking a year of war against Ukraine, a public discussion with Sakharov Prize Laureates and Members of the European Parliament took place at the University of Malta.
It was addressed by Sakharov Prize Laureates 2022 Oleksandra Matviychuk, human rights lawyer and Chair of the Centre for Civil Liberties, and Yaroslav Bozhko, spokesperson for The Yellow Ribbon Civil Resistance Movement, both speaking online from Ukraine, and MEP Cyrus Engerer (S&D, Malta), LIBE Committee member and shadow Rapporteur on the Reception Conditions Directive. The panel included also the EU Asylum Agency’s Head of Communications Anis Cassar, Dr Valentina Cassar, International Relations Senior Lecturer specialising in nuclear politics, US and Russia foreign and security policies, and European security and defence issues, and Ukrainian journalist Inna Honcharuk-Plikhivska.
The discussion opened with a video message recorded for it by EP President Roberta Metsola, who highlighted that “by choosing to open up their borders, their homes and their hearts to our Ukrainian friends – Member States, local communities and even individual European citizens – have triggered what can only be described as a remarkable display of European solidarity. And yet, the reality is that the war in Ukraine remains on-going. We will be called upon to do yet more. But the Maltese have always been known to be people of generosity, ones that you can rely on, and that empathise with the most vulnerable people on our planet. So I am convinced that we will continue playing our part in supporting Ukraine and its people.”
For Sakharov Prize Laureate 2022 Oleksandra Matviychuk, human rights lawyer and Chair of the Centre for Civil Liberties, “after the year of large-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine, we can declare that Russia is a vivid example that a state that kills journalists, imprisons activists and disperses peaceful demonstrations poses a threat not only to its citizens, but to the entire region. Therefore, human rights must be as important as economic benefits or security in political decision-making. The values of modern civilization must be protected”.
Yaroslav Bozhko, political analyst and spokesperson for the Yellow Ribbon Civil Resistance Movement, also a Sakharov Prize Laureate 2022, observed that “this war became a challenge for all Western principles as a whole. We all need the creation of new rules for the entire Western civilization, which will ensure security and protection of human rights in the world. Whether such terrible events will continue in the world will depend on the conclusions drawn from the war in Ukraine”.
MEP Cyrus Engerer (S&D, MT) highlighted that “we are a Union built on the premise of peace between powers that were at war, and our mission should always be to strive for peace globally. At the same time we must stand for what is right and therefore be clear in our declarations and that the unprovoked Russian aggression on Ukraine is not only unjust but also violates the principles of the UN Charter, its values and the rule-based international order that all nations, including Russia, agreed to. There is one solution to the war in Ukraine – the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”.
MEP David Casa (EPP, MT), speaking in a video message, underlined that “the European Parliament stands united when it comes to supporting Ukraine’s fight. The European Union has welcomed more than 8 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children. Close to 5 million people so far benefitted from temporary protection and similar protection schemes across Europe, including Malta which currently has around 1700 Ukrainians registered under temporary protection.Our support will not diminish. It is a dark time for Europe and it is even darker for Ukraine but it is a time when we are standing united. United for Ukraine, united for Europe and united for our way of life.”
The discussion was moderated by Professor Anna Khakee, Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Malta, and opened by the Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta Dr Mario Sammut. This event was organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta in cooperation with the Department of International Relations at the University of Malta.