Toespraak van minister president Rutte Four Freedoms Award 2022

Toespraak van minister-president Rutte bij de uitreiking van de International Four Freedoms Award 2022 aan Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Your Majesties,

Your Royal Highness,

Members of the Roosevelt family,

Ms Tsikhanouskaya,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, when you addressed the European Parliament only 5 months ago, you spoke some ominous words. Words that I’d like to repeat today.

‘Dictatorships don’t have natural geographical limits’, you said. ‘They spread if they are not stopped.’

Since then, history has proved you right. Since then, we have witnessed Russia’s unjust and outrageous acts of aggression against Ukraine – a free and democratic European nation that has been under attack for over 2 months now.

Of course, first and foremost this war is about the fate and future of the Ukrainian people. But it also directly affects the future of the people of Belarus. It affects your personal fight for freedom and democracy in your country.

And in fact, this war – this brutal assault on the rule of law – affects us all.So it should concern us all. Because it confronts us with fundamental questions about the cost of peace and self-determination.

What are they worth to us? Where do we stand? And what sacrifices are we willing to make to stop injustice and autocracy from spreading? 

Because, as we’ve seen once again, when that happens, innocent people pay the price.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, you are an inspiration to the people of Belarus. You have given a voice to the hundreds of thousands who marched for freedom in the streets of Minsk and other cities in Belarus.

Now you are an example to the world. Because in both word and deed you have shown that freedom, democracy and the rule of law need defending.  Through the power of peaceful action. With reason and resolve.

For you this has been self-evident ever since your husband was arrested. And you have risen to that challenge, despite the great personal cost and sacrifices involved.

The 2022 International Four Freedoms Award is of course a recognition of your crucial work in Belarus.  It is a personal honour.

But given the situation in the world today, I hope that it will also be seen as an expression of support for democracy worldwide.  That it underlines the message that President Roosevelt sent out to the American people and the world’s democratic forces in his 1941 State of the Union address. The message that democracy and the rule of law cannot exist without freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Today that message has lost none of its truth and none of its relevance. So let us reaffirm it here and now. To the people of Belarus, to the people of Ukraine and to the people of the world.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya,

You once said: ‘I am not in politics for power. I am in it for justice.’

With your leadership, your words and your actions, you are a beacon of hope to all those who suffer injustice. And we deeply admire your courage and determination.

It is now my honour to invite you and Ms Eleanor James Browne to come forward.

The 2022 International Four Freedoms Award is yours.