Kyiv Security Forum

Address of the Honorable Senator Richard Durbin to the Kyiv Security Forum 2019

11 April 2019, 19:37

Thanks for the opportunity to speak to the Kyiv Security Forum. I’m sorry I could not attend in person this important event hosted by my friend Arseniy Yatsenyuk. I want to thank him for all of the friendship of his over the past few years. Five years since the historic events in Ukraine, the West is facing an onslaught of challenges from Russia and from within.

I am a son of a Lithuanian immigrant to the United States and I’m always deeply involved to see Lithuania today a proud democracy anchored in the European Union and NATO.

My long time foreign policy staffer is the son of Dutch immigrants who grew up under the Nazis. Yet today he sees the incredible peaceful free movement of ideas, people and trade between the former enemies as part of the historic European Union.

And of course in Ukraine so many dreamed of a more open, free, democratic nation anchored with values in the West. A dream that in the Maidan years ago but really hasn’t been fully realized as of today.

I remember walking through the Maidan with my friend, late senator John McCain. He was recognized by almost everyone. It was not long after those historic events. We walked in quiet respect to the shrines and memorials of those who’ve been brutally killed in that noble protest. I remember how deeply John McCain and I felt about the events in Ukraine. About the role of the US and supporting efforts for democracy, and hope, and the future. McCain was a real hero whose voice is really missed around the world and especially here in the United States. But his ideas, his values continue. And I hope they will in Ukraine and Europe as well.

Simply, we cannot give up on the achievements built over the last decades in Europe, bringing peace, security and prosperity to a region that experienced so much. We should not ever take for granted the achievements which have been made and continually invest in and nurture those in the future. We can’t give up on our values: democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, and association. And we’ve got to win corruption that undermines democracy every day. These are elements we fought hard to inshrine and protect.

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