Zelenskiy urges Germany: tear down wall dividing free and unfree Europe

2 minute read
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Urges Germany to destroy wall dividing free, unfree Europe
  • Says German ties with Russia helped build the wall
  • Invokes Berlin Airlift, fall of Berlin Wall in plea

BERLIN, March 17 (Reuters) - Invoking the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to tear down what he called a wall between "free and unfree" Europe and stop the war in Ukraine.

Speaking to the Bundestag by videolink, Zelenskiy appealed to Scholz to restore freedom to Ukraine, tapping Germany's collective memory with reference to the historic 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Zelenskiy described a new wall "in the middle of Europe between freedom and unfreedom", which he said Germany had helped build, isolating Ukraine with its business ties to Russia and its previous support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

"And this wall is getting bigger with every bomb that falls on Ukraine, with every decision that is not taken," he added.

Asked about Zelenskiy's speech, Scholz said that Germany has been extending military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and it was engaged in diplomatic efforts to stop the war.

"It is also clear to me that Ukraine and its president must decide and will decide for themselves what is good for them and what isn't," Scholz said during a news conference. "They don't need wrong advice from other countries about what to do and what not to do. It is about their country and their future."

Germany last month halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany. read more

Recalling former U.S. President Ronald Reagan's appeal to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, to tear down the Berlin Wall, Zelenskiy told German lawmakers: "That's what I say to you dear Chancellor Scholz: destroy this wall."

"Give Germany the leadership role that it has earned so that your descendants are proud of you. Support freedom, support Ukraine, stop this war, help us to stop this war," he added.

Lawmakers in the Bundestag welcomed Zelenskiy with a standing ovation and the chamber's vice president, Katrin Goering-Eckardt, told him: "Your country has chosen democracy, and that's what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin fears."

She said Putin was trying to deny Ukraine's right to exist, adding: "But he has already failed with that."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke Writing by Paul Carrel Editing by Miranda Murray and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.