Below is the full text of his statement:
Distinguished Mr. President!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
On behalf of Ukraine, I congratulate you Mr. President on the election as the president of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. Ukraine supports the implementation of all ambitious priorities of this Assembly.
Let's be candid, all present here have different interests, views, values and issues, but there is a thing which unites us all. Each and every of you, Ladies and Gentlemen, had that very first statement delivered from this rostrum.
Please, recall the feelings you experience that very moment. Every one of you, reputable and respectable today, used to be a starting, but I am confident, honest politician. And at that time, the cocktail of pragmatism, skepticism and tough geopolitical reality had not yet extinguished your eagerness, romanticism and steadfast faith in the ability to change the world for the better.
Please, recall how important it was then to convey the problems and troubles of your own country and your own nation. How important it was then to get your message across and be listened to.
I am experiencing the same feelings today.
I am going to tell you a story. The story of a person for whom being listened to became the sense of his life. That's because that man had divine voice. He was called the best baritone and countertenor of the world. His voice sounded in Carnegie Hall here in New York, in Notre-Dame de Paris, Covent Garden Opera in London, and Grand Opera in Paris. Every one of you could have listened to his incredible singing, but, unfortunately, there is a thing that will not allow you to do so again. I looks like this and I will show you. That is.
12.7 millimeters, which not only ended his career - it stopped his life. By the way, it costs only ten U.S. dollars. And this is, unfortunately, the price of a human life on our planet.
There are thousands of such stories. There are millions of such bullets. Welcome to the 21st century. A century of opportunities where there is an opportunity to be killed instead of "being listened to and being heard."
A man I've just told you about was Vasyl Slipak. He was a Ukrainian and soloist of the Paris National Opera who was murdered in Donbas, defending Ukraine against Russian aggression.
The war in Donbas has been lasting for five years. Five years have passed since Russia occupied Ukrainian Crimea. Nowadays, when there are thousands of pages of international law and hundreds of international organizations tasked to protect it, our country with arms in hands, losing its citizens, has been defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
More than 13,000 dead, 30,000 wounded, 1.5 million people forced to leave their homes. These awful numbers are reported here annually with only one correction, a small one – they keep growing each year.
Ending the way, recovering all occupied Ukrainian territories and restoring peace are my primary objective, but not at the cost of the lives of our citizens, freedom or the right of Ukraine to make its own choice.
That is why we need wide international support. I do realize that every country present here has its own challenges to tackle. And the problems of others should not worry you more than your own ones. But I understand, this is life, but in the modern world where we live, there is no more somebody else's war. And none of you will safe until Russia is waging war against Ukraine in the center of Europe.
And a thought that all of this has nothing to do with you or will never touch your interests could be fatal. You cannot think globally while turning a blind eye to small things or, as someone may believe, to trifles. Because that is how the foundation of two world wars was laid down. And, as a result, millions of human lives have become the price for negligence, silence, inaction or unwillingness to relinquish own ambitions. Do the horrible lessons of history begin to fade away from mankind's memory?
Ukraine remembers them. Ukraine has always demonstrated to the world its readiness to ensure peace in a civilized manner, and we made particular steps towards international security. For example, when it abandoned its nuclear arsenal which at that time exceeded nuclear capacities of the United Kingdom, France and China combined.
Because we seemed to believe in a collective strive to build a new world where your thoughts are heard and reckoned with, regardless of whether you possess nuclear weapons or not. A world where you are respected for your deeds, not for having nuclear warheads.
At the end of the day, in this "new" world my country has lost a part of its territory and keeps losing its citizens almost every single day.
That is why, as of today, Ukraine has earned the right to speak about the necessity to reconsider and review the still existent rules.
Certainly, we do not call into question the credibility of international institutions and, in particular, the United Nations but we have to recognize that the existent system is not perfect. It has begun to malfunction, therefore it needs to be revised.
The United Nations Organization. Yes, but let's be candid, are the nations indeed united nowadays? And if they are, what makes them united?
Are these disasters, calamities or wars?
From this highest world rostrum we always hear calls for fair changes, righteous promises, new initiatives. It is high time to ensure that those calls are backed up by deeds. Because in a modern world, where human life just costs ten dollars, the words are depreciated.
Let's remember. What was the goal in 1945 when the United Nations was established? It was to maintain and strengthen peace and international security. But what should we do when the very fundamentals of international security are endangered?
Since each war today – in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Yemen, or anywhere else in the world, no matter the number of casualties – is the biggest threat to the whole civilization. That's because in 2019, the human beings, homo sapiens, still prefer to solve conflicts by murdering their own kind. In the course of its existence, the mankind always figured out ways to cover distances, to transmit information, to cure diseases.
And only one thing remains unchanged: contradictions between the peoples and states are still resolved by missiles, not by words.
Not by word, but by war.
Do not think that the war is far away. Methods of warfare, technologies and weapons facilities have proved that our planet is no longer that big. And so today, the time I will have spent on delivering the previous paragraph is enough to raise the world to the ground.
This means that every leader has his share of responsibility not only for the destiny of his/her country but for the whole world. In my opinion, we all need to understand that a strong leader is not the one who, without blinking an eye, sends thousands of troops to a sure death. A strong leader is the one who cares about the life of every person.
Let's give an answer to ourselves. What is the outcome of our meetings for the mankind? If for somebody this is just a political theater to play their role and declare good intentions that will later be crossed out by the darkest acts?
It's not just a rostrum. It's not a scene. And 7.5 billion people of the planet are not just spectators but real-life participants. Fundamental principles of this screenplay are established here. And today it depends on everyone here whether there will be life at all.
I shall admit, honestly, I wish one day this statement would be called "15 Minutes That Changed the World." But I am well aware that it is impossible to change in 15 minutes what has been existing for centuries. They say that according to the behavioral theory, the war is an essential part of a human being. But the world is changing. A man is changing together with the world. And once we learned writing, mathematics, invented the wheel, penicillin, explored space, it means that a mankind still has a chance.
Acknowledging all the danger and challenges of civilization, we must generate other values and fight for a new human mindset where aggression, anger and hatred will pass away.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this day, on September 25, Erich Maria Remarque died. Ninety years ago, the novel "All Quiet on the Western Front" was first published. Let me remind you the foreword: "It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war." And 90 years ago, another novel "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway was released. Here is the quote: "War is not won by victory. No one ever stopped when they were winning."
The world must remember that every next crippled generation is the path to a new war, which cannot be won by victories.
Somebody may say today: "There will be no Third World War. It will be the last one." And I hope that these words are an understanding of danger for the planet and not an announcement in the theater.
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