01 juni 2022

Speech Wopke Hoekstra tijdens EPP Congres

Onderstaand de speech van Wopke Hoekstra tijdens het EPP Congres in Rotterdam. 

Mr. Secretary-General, your Excellencies, dear friends,

What a privilege to have you all here, united in Rotterdam.  In the city of hope, creativity and renewal. The port to Europe. To me, this event feels like a reunion,  as members of the largest political family in Europe, the EPP.  We celebrate our friendship, and share our thoughts on the future.  Let me take this moment to say how proud we are of our Esther de Lange, for her leadership in the EPP, and of our Member of European Parliament Jeroen, Tom, Annie, and Toine for their valuable work in the European Parliament. I also like to take this opportunity to thank Ursula von der Leyen,  our President of the European Commission: Ursula, we all see and admire your tremendous drive to lead Europe into a better future. Thank you very much! And let me thank Donald and Tonno for their truly excellent leadership in the past years. It made all the difference. And let me congratulate Manfred with his new endeavor, my dear friend and German neighbor. 

My dear friends, a few weeks ago, I was in Ukraine.  As I walked through the devastated streets of Irpin, I remembered the true words of the Dutch twentieth-century poet Lucebert: ‘Everything of value is defenseless. I saw the destroyed houses and buildings.  The ruins and damage of war.  I talked to the people about their hopes and despairs.  But what touched me most was that so many women and children were no longer around.  They have fled their homes, well knowing that their brothers, fathers and sons would stay, and fight for their lives. This is what war does to innocent people. Families being fripped apart. Children without the safety of their parents and homes.  These images showed me  that everything of value is, indeed, defenseless.  Our families, our democracy, our freedom and our safety. All these precious things of value cannot defend themselves.  Therefore, we must defend them.

In Ukraine, I spoke to President Zelensky and foreign minister Kuleba.  I was once again deeply impressed by their courage and their leadership.  And yet as I was leaving Ukraine,  it felt like I was leaving behind a friend in great peril. Therefore, I am convinced that we as the European community should do our utmost to help the Ukrainian people. To stand shoulder to shoulder. Their struggle for peace, freedom and sovereignty is ours. Unity and courage are the two crucial elements for the future of Ukraine, the EPP, Europe, and society at large. And as this horrible war drags on, it is imperative to maintain the political solidarity within the European Union and NATO. Let us not give Putin the opportunity, to play us out against one another.

Ladies and gentlemen, the ruins of Irpin today resemble in many ways the ruins of Rotterdam after May 1940. The grief is the same, and so should be the determination to rebuild the city. Just as Rotterdam was rebuilt. In 1948, our then Queen Wilhelmina gave Rotterdam her official motto; ‘Stronger through effort.' And that's exactly what we need to realise today: an ever stronger Europe. Through effort. The war in Ukraine now lasts 96 days. It’s evident that this war is the single most important issue for our continent today, as well as tomorrow. Our relationship with the Kremlin has been fundamentally damaged. The security situation on our continent has permanently changed. But even if the war were to end on a short notice, it would not change what has been going on in the world for some time. This confrontation is an extreme example of a broader reality, which will remain present and urgent for the decades to come: our way of life is at stake, and so are fundamental values like security, civil rights, democracy, a free and independent press, and multilateral institutions. 

Ladies and gentleman, let’s face reality. We are dealing with a showdown between democracy and autocracy. Between the rule of law and the whims of dictatorship. Between human rights and human oppression.  For that reason, there is one great endeavour for our political generation: to uphold the great tradition of our Christian Democratic ancestors to stand up. Against injustice.Against the dehumanization of people and against the litter contempt of human rights. Because history has shown us that appeasement and looking away is making things worse. 

Friends, I grew up in the 70’s and 80s. A period that was also regularly dictated by fear, summarized in one sentence: the cold war. As a child, I noticed something big was going on, although I couldn't interpret it yet.  Today these feelings from that cold war era are back. Among both the elderly and the young, including my own children. It makes me realize once again that everything of value is indeed defenseless. It is up to our generation to defend them. In our own countries, in Europe and through our engagement with the rest of the world. And therefore also for me, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as the political leader for the CDA. Because I strongly believe that living together in peace and justice requires solidarity, reciprocity and the rule of law. Not just for some of our people, in some of our countries and some of the time, but for all of our people, in all of our countries all of the time!

My dear friends, to determine our common course for a stronger Europe, we have to face the major challenges. I would like to thank you very much for being here today with us. This is the mission of the EPP: plain and simple, we need to think tomorrow. To defend all that is valuable to all our people and to defend the European way of living. To make big changes possible. To be stronger through effort. Together, we can build an ever stronger Union, and I am deeply proud to be part of this family. Together we will meet this challenge. Thank you very much and I very much look forward to seeing you again. 


De twaalf provinciale afdelingen vormen de schakel tussen de gemeentelijke afdelingen en het landelijke bestuur.