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Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski

October 26, 2009

Videogreeting to the conference
For Our Freedom and Yours! For Our Common Future

Publicized on October, 25, 2009 in Lviv

I want to send my greetings to the participants of the conference which has such an evocative title “For Our Freedom and Yours! For Our Common Future!” These are words that have a lot of meaning for me. I am very conscious of the fact that the independence of Central Europe was one of the major watersheds in modern history and the fulfillment of hopes for many millions. The same is true specifically the independence of Ukraine. I am one of those who have always believed that the independence of Ukraine is something that wished the people of Ukraine are entitled. Something that will have to happen and something that - which happens and when it happens – will mean the end of the imperial system, that for so many years has been depriving the Ukrainians of their right to freedom.

I say this with a sense of real satisfaction. In part because I am also an Honorary Citizen of the city of Lviv or Lw?w, how I have known it in my childhood. And when I have received that Honorary Citizenship some years ago in Lviv, in Lw?w, I told to participants that that city has a special meaning for me because my father as a very young man fought in this city of Lviv or Lw?w for the control over the railway station. And the fight – the conflict – was between Poles and Ukrainians and my father fought on the Polish side. But he always told me and I remember that vividly that war between the Poles and the Ukrainians was a fraternal war which benefited neither people nor the Poles nor the Ukrainians. But it benefited an imperial state that wanted to control Poland and was still controlling Ukraine.

Today the situation is entirely different. And it is different in part because we do live in an age in which imperial systems have come to end and in which independence of nations is now a universally recognized right and an independence of nations is necessary element in the creation also a civic society and democratic systems. A genuinely civic society and a genuine democracy cannot exist within an imperial system. And hence, deliberation of peoples who have been denied of their freedom ultimately is also deliberation of the people that have been denying freedom to others. And this is why I see in an independent democratic Ukraine a future for Russia which is more promising than the present. A future in which Russia is a genuinely democratic state, a state that accepts the reality of the independence of other nations living in its neighbourhood, respects that independence, doesn’t wish to deprive the peoples involved of that independence.

And so, not only in the historic but even in geopolitical sense the existence of the independent Ukraine is an important element contributing to the further evolution of Russia that can play its rightful place in the community of nations as a major power. But the power which is also respected for its democracy and for its acceptance of the reality of political, cultural, national pluralism in the space of the former Soviet Union. To make that possible Ukraine has to remain independent and has to strive to preserve that independence because today it is somewhat endangered. Twenty years after independence Ukrainian independence today is less secure than it was twenty years ago. And that is something that Ukrainians have to understand, have to access and from which they have to draw conclusions regarding the national unity, regarding the national independence, regarding their right to be part of a larger Europe. To make that possible regional cooperation is also important and this is why this conference which talks about the common future, as well as about our freedom and your freedom is an important regional contribution to making a more secure Ukraine more likely.

So I want to salute the organizers of this event, the fathers of the city of Lviv to which I have such affection, the participants of the conference and wish them every success in contributing to the independence and democracy in Central Europe, in Eastern Europe, eventually in Russia as well. This is a common objective that does unite us, it is an objective that is attainable and Ukraine will play an important role in the fulfilment of these ambitious goals.

Good luck to you and thank you!


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