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Speech of Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija at the BGF Conference “Rebuilding Ukraine”

Thank you, thank you very much. I’m really honored and privileged to be with you, and of course I want to thank to Michael Dukakis and Boston Global Forum for remaining such impressive group of people there in your premises in Boston. And of course us who are able to be with you, not share the floor but share the screen at least, along with such a very important topic of course, it’s my very honor and privilege also to its entire time to speak after my multiple president, president Danilo Turk, who is my president very many times, usually before as a president of Club de Madrid, and now as the Co-Chair  and president of the international center, which now I again very easily call my dear friend as my president Vaira. Of course after her speech about Ukraine especially about having in mind and her experience, her knowledge, her wisdom, and her passion about people who are going through such a terrible terrible terrible challenges like Ukraine people do, because as she mentioned obviously a very tough experience in her lifetime as refugees, running away from a similar type of evil that is chasing Ukrainian people today. Of course at the same time I have also actually shared with you a few of my personal experiences with a recent one and not so recently recent one is as a member of the NGIC team that and the leadership of Moldova we put together in the last month. First we want to visit refugees. Refugee acceptance in Moldova, in Romania, and in Poland, and that experience is in order to take some kind of let’s say make anything which is possible to somehow you know to help the people who just not so long time ago had normal lives that suddenly just fell apart. I was in, as i said in Moldova, at least in one few refugee center, and just to give you the feeling of it, Moldova is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but countries show that they’re a small nation but with enormously great heart. People have enormously great heart especially having in mind that they may be the next Ukraine. Moldova may be the next victim of Putin. Putin army but people over there trying to do their best in order to accept uh accept refugees from Ukraine. When you take a look, just from the perspective of Moldova, [which] is the country that today in schools one out of seven children in schools are refugees coming from Ukraine. Poland is a country that is accepting the biggest number of refugees and helping enormously, and this is something which, when I was there, I was seeing the same very same pictures go through in front of my eyes. That I saw 30 years ago, when i was Deputy Prime Minister and first independent republican Bosnian to governor government of the independence, where we were attacked by Regional Putin of that time, […]. The same type of mindset, the very same scenario, everything is déja vu. Everything that we are seeing today in Ukraine, from military perspective, propaganda perspective, brutality, the myths, the grandeurs as Vaira likes to say, I mean about great Russia or great Serbia 30 years ago. We saw all those things. And I remember 30 years ago it was first time when I met refugees just 30, 40 kilometers from my home city. There were people that looked exactly the same and they went exactly to the same things that people are going right now in Ukraine. Those are the people that just some months ago, or maybe not years but months ago, they had normal life. They were planning to have their summer vacation sometimes with graphic cards or some place in Spain, or you know just having normal life. Suddenly their lives were simply destroyed.

What I’m trying to say is that what was happening to us 30 years ago, it’s happening in Ukraine right now. And this has to be very clear signal to all of us that 20 or 30 years ago, it was in Bosnia or in Croatia or some place in western Baltimore. Today it is in Ukraine. Tomorrow it can be any place in Europe. I don’t want to go outside of Europe. I’ll just stay to Europe, so these are the things: if we do not confront them together, with force, with wisdom, with solidarity, then it can happen to any one of us. Next point is something which I want to share with you, is I think it is very important today. We are talking about rebuilding Ukraine, but first we have to talk and focus on defending Ukraine, defending Ukraine and helping people who are defending themselves, because today over in Ukraine they’re defending Ukraine, but they are not [just] defending Ukraine; they’re defending all of us; they’re defending Europe; they’re defending western Balkan, because after Ukraine, Georgia. After Georgia, maybe western Balkan, Baltic countries, Poland of course, Moldova, Bulgaria, who knows who can be the next. So it is very important that we do everything that’s in our power to show that we are standing up for Ukraine, that Ukraine has to be defended, and they will be rebuilt. And what is important to understand, that I think is very important: it is of crucial importance that we start showing today, that we are thinking together how we can rebuild Ukraine, rebuild Ukraine in economic sense, in the sense of not only economy, but the life way of Ukraine, which is educational facilities, healthcare facilities, cultural facilities, everything that actually is giving the substance to the life that will be happening. Of course connectivity as I said is one of the things that may help today, which was not available, because when my country was on the process of reconstruction 25 years ago. That connectivity, with that context, I think is most important in reconstruction, when it comes to technology, when it comes to information, when it comes to education, special education. That is part of our overall activities, about the social contract for the age of partitioning facial intelligence. We have to see how we can tackle and penetrate through these different layers of reconstruction of the country.

And the last point, it looks to me that I have mentioned very precisely, this troika: Peter the Great, Tataria the Great, and of course Putin. [They all try to be the first person to make a great Russia…] but Putin needs to be rebuilding, so to say, make Russia great again. And who knows, it feels like a joke, but frankly speaking, it’s not a joke [inaudible…]. In order to recreate a Great Serbia, Putin exterminated everyone who does not fit in great Serbia. Everyone who is not Serb and everyone who does not support Great Serbia is someone that has to be exterminated. But it’s kind of, you know, it was kind of strange to us, but you know last Communist leader is filling the myths of the past and trying to make a great nationalistic state, which basically speaking looks like kind of contradiction between […] strategy and nationalistic nations [inaudible…]

mindset that wants to use everything that is possible in order to put the people under its own mind: Great Serbia, Great Communist Country, Great Russia, great whatever, great. But the point is that our Putin is the fourth one. It’s kind of paradoxical that Stalin was not Russian. Katarina the Great, she was also not Russian. of course Peter the great was Russian. And listen, it looks like Putin would be the, let’s say he would make an even fight between Russians and non-Russians, are trying to make Great Russia. So this brings me back to my original point. Everything is understanding because we understand everything, and what we have to do is we have to show that we are together, and the world understands, everywhere in the world, that today fight for defending and rebuilding Ukraine is not quite the fight to defend only Ukraine, but this is the fight to defend the free world, world of moral [inaudible]. Today that we will do everything in our power to help Ukraine, help Ukraine to be, I won’t say great, just be normal, just be normal part of the free world.

So thank you thank you for the privilege to be with you today, and I really do hope that we will show that it is possible to stand after Ukrainian people, and to show to Putin that definitely sooner or later, his effort will come to nothing.