"Peace does not come on its own"
"There will not be a speech," Oleksii Makeiev, Ukrainian ambassador to Germany since October last year, declared right at the beginning of his talk. He said he did not want to speak at length, but to engage in conversation. "Diplomats of the 21st century rely on honesty," the ambassador explained: "Addressing fears, answering questions, collecting political and scientific ideas and suggestions - that's what I'm here for." Approximately 130 EUF students, faculty and staff members had taken their seats in the Senate Room to engage in discussion with the ambassador, who had arrived together with the Consul General of Ukraine in Hamburg, Dr. Iryna Tybinka.
The Ambassador began by raising awareness of the daily suffering of Ukrainians in this war. He then thanked the audience on behalf of all Ukrainians for taking in more than one million refugees in Germany and for their military support. Oleksii Makeiev left no doubt that Ukrainians are defending European values such as freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights for all Europeans in this war.
"Basically, Ukraine has been at war since the spring of 2014, since the annexation of Crimea. How do you experience this?" was the first question a student asked the ambassador. We feel left alone," replied Oleksii Makeiev. "It bothers me that this war is called the Ukrainian war, because it is not. It is Russia's war against Ukraine and against Europe." On what grounds he had called for his country's accession to NATO, another question read. "Ukraine today is doing exactly what NATO was created for," Oleksiy Makeyev replied, "to militarily protect Europe from a Russian imperialist invasion.
How did he assess the impact of non-military means? Sanctions have become a very important diplomatic tool, the Ambassador replied, but only on condition that they are introduced quickly and comprehensively and that gaps are decisively closed.
To the question "What are the Ukrainian scenarios for ending the war?" Makeyev answered in detail: "Peace does not come by itself. Everything has to be fought for. We have clear ideas about Ukraine's victory, including the President's 10-point peace plan. Victory is when Russia leaves all occupied territories. Victory is when all prisoners of war are exchanged and children deported to Russia are returned. The war will be won when Russian war criminals are tried by a special tribunal. The war will be over when Russia pays for it and we can begin reconstruction. Guarantees must be created for this".
The Ambassador spent one hour answering the interested and knowledgeable questions of the audience and then greeted some of the 11 Ukrainian students at the EUF. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Glassmann, Vice President for European and International Affairs, was pleased. "We were able to explain to the ambassador that the students here are financed by DAAD scholarships and integrated into student programs, which gives them a perspective. This is exactly what education systems need to offer in this situation.
Glassmann also appreciates the ambassador's visit to the university for academic reasons: "Usually, diplomacy or politics is the subject of study at the university. But of course the important impulse to raise awareness of the suffering caused by the war in Ukraine is something very valuable to stimulate discussions at the university about how a European university can redefine itself in times of war in Europe.
This assessment is shared by EUF President Prof. Dr. Werner Reinhart: "We find ourselves in the paradoxical situation that a threat from the outside has given new impetus to the European idea, which has been under great pressure."