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In the face of Russia’s unilateral aggression against Ukraine, the Lehendakari expresses the Basque Government’s support for unity in the European and international response.

2023 February 24
  • “Human rights, the future of our peoples and the principles and values that underpin peace and international coexistence are at stake.”
  • “The response is to strengthen multilateralism in demanding an end to the invasion and exploring diplomatic avenues in the service of a just peace.”
  • “After this year of atrocity, this meeting represents a recognition of the solidarity between Ukraine and the Basque Country. Hope in the face of desolation.”
  • “The cruelty and injustice of war need not have the last word. Solidarity continues to speak and to challenge us.”
  • The worst brings out the best the best in humans. Commitment and solidarity open the door to hope for peace.”

Following the meeting of the Monitoring Committee for the reception of refugees from Ukraine, held this morning, the atrium of the Lehendakaritza was the setting for a ceremony in recognition of the solidarity between the Basque Country and Ukraine. The audience included people who represent those expressions of solidarity that were acknowledged and thanked through this event.

Among them were social third sector organisations involved in different forms of commitment to Ukraine, solidarity associations between Ukraine and the Basque Country and those linked to the reception of children from Chernobyl. Also present were Basque host families, also of Ukrainian origin, and a representation of refugees from Ukraine.

The event was presented by María Dobryanska, a young Ukrainian woman who expressed herself perfectly in Ukrainian, Basque and Spanish. Two videos allowed us to listen to the voices and testimonies of different experiences related to the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine.

During the development of the event, a colloquium was held with the participation of four people: Anna Smolova, 29 years old. A radiology doctor, a refugee in the Basque Country who has found a job in a hospital; Sofía Van, a student of international relations at the University of Deusto who lives in the Basque Country with a host family; Vasyl, from Bucha, is 29 years old and lives in Artziniega and has taken in his mother, Halyna, who was a volunteer in the area of Bucha, Irpin and Ivankiv, organised trips for children from Chernobyl, and was forced to leave her home; and Enrique Angulo, a member of the Chernobileko Umeak association, who has taken in children from Chernobyl, and accompanied refugee individuals and families after the invasion of Ukraine.

Three words sum up the common core of their testimonies: suffering, resilience (or resistance) and solidarity. The expressions of their responses resounded in the atrium of the Lehendakaritza, like penetrating echoes of experiences of unjust suffering, of necessary resilience and of grateful solidarity.

The event concluded with the Lehendakari’s final speech. His first words have forcefully reiterated his condemnation of the invasion as expressed from the outset: “I condemn the military invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, deployed with the means of war and without justification or provocation. A unilateral aggression on human rights that violates legality and international law.

An injustice that is causing the loss of thousands of lives, the displacement of millions of people and the wanton and senseless mass destruction of the property and heritage of a country and its people.

On behalf of Basque society and institutions, the Lehendakari expressed the feeling of active solidarity with all the families of the fatalities caused by the invasion of Ukraine. A sentiment that he extended to the injured people, to those who have lost their homes, as well as to the people and families forced to leave their country and the future they dreamed of.

In the course of his speech, he expressed “affection, suburban and commitment to the Basques of Ukrainian origin, as well as to the people and the Government of Ukraine. I would like to express our gratitude and recognition to all the host families for your solidarity and efforts.”

He extended this recognition to the institutional and third social sector representatives who participate in the Monitoring Committee for the reception of refugees from Ukraine and to the solidarity organisations between Ukraine and the Basque Country, as well as those related to the children of Chernobyl. “In the face of this year of atrocity, this meeting represents an act of recognition of the solidarity between Ukraine and the Basque Country. Hope in the face of desolation.”

In his speech, the Lehendakari recalled that aid has not been limited only to that offered in the Basque Country. Thanks to Basque cooperation, two children’s camps have been built in Ukraine, in Zhitomir and Ivano Frankivsk. These facilities are now used to accommodate refugees with special needs. In addition, thanks to the solidarity of several Basque City Councils, a hospital has been refurbished in Barishivka, 50 kilometres from Kiev, where war-wounded people are currently being treated. The Basque Country is also present in Ukraine.

He also wished to recall two decisions taken by the Basque Parliament. The first, on 13 December 1991, to give its support to the independence referendum held on 1 December. The second took place on 7 October 2003. On that day the Basque chamber supported Ukraine’s entry into the European Union to guarantee the democratic principle and independence of Ukraine.

In this plan of political analysis, Iñigo Urkullu stressed that “human rights, the future of our peoples and the principles and values that underpin peace and international coexistence are at stake. In the face of Russia’s unilateral aggression against Ukraine, the response is to strengthen multilateralism. I express the full support of the Basque Government for maintaining unity in the European and international response.”

In this line, the Lehendakari expressed the Basque Government’s full support for the EU and the international community in “the demand for an end to the unilateral invasion and the exploration of diplomatic channels that will make a just peace possible”.

Iñigo Urkullu stressed “our affection, solidarity and commitment to Ukraine, and our gratitude to Basque society and in particular to the host families, as well as to the volunteers of the associations and local host groups.”

In his last words, he shared a reflection for hope: “The cruelty and injustice of war need not have the last word. Solidarity continues to speak and to challenge us. The worst brings out the best the best in humans. Commitment and solidarity open the door to hope for peace.”

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Politicians attending the event