by Jean-Dominique Giuliani, President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, Paris
Europe is fragile. The sum of so many democracies cannot be a smooth river.
They are all plagued by regressive, populist, extremist, nationalist and xenophobic currents.
And so, it is easier to destabilise and attack them, which is what Vladimir Putin has been systematically doing for several years.
He cannot sustainably bear to see their economic, social and political successes compared to the failure of his country, the largest in the world, perhaps the richest in mineral resources, and whose wealth is less than that of a single European Union state.
Hence, we have on our borders an official and assumed enemy, which declared war on us several years ago.
But its greatest crime, among many others, is to have tried to change a European border by force when it attacked Ukraine.
The continents’ entire history teaches us how this type of behaviour ends: two world wars starting in the heart of Europe, the worst dictatorships emerging in our midst, unthinkable genocides, sublimated crime, etc.
If the Russian dictator were to win, the precedent would be disastrous for the whole of Europe. It would not take much to set Europe ablaze again. The Western Balkans would not be the last, since every part of our continent harbours grudges due to geography or history that are only waiting to be stirred up.
For the time being, they are being contained by the pull and finances of the European Union and the powerful military of the United States of America. The carrot and the stick, if you will! Without American intervention in the Balkans, they would still be at war. Without a European presence and perspective, the region would have sunk back into identity-driven madness already.
We have no reason to be ashamed of our support for Ukraine in the face of an unjustified aggression with potentially incalculable consequences. We cannot accept the victory of the fait accompli, of violence and lies, nor of such a clear violation of international commitments.
This time we are not making the mistakes of the 1930s, when democracies, through weakness, caution or cowardice, made it possible for monstrosities to occur.
We do not even have any other option but to support Ukraine, which embodies honour, with all our strength. This means that we are on the side of courage and resistance to oppression, of truth, peace and democracy; these are our values and the best of what we have.
We must not weaken, and we must, whatever the cost, do everything possible to stop Putin!