Revolution of Dignity, Kyiv, 2014
Article by: Boryslav Bereza, Ukrainian MP
On June 22, 1982, Joe Biden was a Senator from Delaware and confronted then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, threatening to cut off aid to Israel. Menachem Begin responded forcefully:
“Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”
I remembered this quote because it’s high time for us to construct a similar ideology in our society. And, we must get rid of all our illusions – namely, believing blindly in Uncle Sam and in triumphant Euro-optimism. We must realize that our problems are not so important to our Western partners. We must stop thinking that they will always be there to help us out. Of course, they’ll be there, but only to protect their own interests and only if it’s to their advantage. In all other situations, they will express “deep concern” and worry about us, as it was when Russia annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas.
It’s time we realized that we can only depend on ourselves. That our problems – the war, corruption, economic decline, labour migration, demographic crisis, and everything else – are exclusively ours and we must deal with them ourselves. We can listen to their advice. We will learn from people and countries that can provide us with the knowledge that we lack. We can definitely use the experience of others and attract foreign professionals to our cities. But, we will have to re-build Ukraine on our own. Nobody will do this for us. We live in a pragmatic world. And, if we’re not able to solve our own problems, the others won’t solve them for us, but will use them to promote their own interests.
Unfortunately, statements pronounced by Western politicians don’t always coincide with their actions. Why? Because they do what’s best for their country and their voters. We must act in the same way, do what’s best for Ukraine, what actually strengthens our country – economically, politically, democratically, and what makes us more powerful in the military sector.
However, we should also become useful to our Western partners. Yes, useful, but without incurring damages or losses to ourselves. On the contrary, we must make sure that everything we do benefits our country. In order to build a new Ukraine. A modern and forward-looking country. To build and stop waiting for someone else to build it for us.
But, if they push us around, saying that our actions aren’t profitable, if they try to scare us, if they force us in any way, or try to convince us to implement something… anything that we don’t really need, then we must learn to stand up and answer like Menachem Begin: “We will build our Ukraine! With or without your help!”
What we do is more important and shows our intentions and feelings more clearly than what we say.
Actions speak louder than words!