"If the sense of guilt and responsibility for World War II should oblige Germans to do anything today, it is first and foremost to commit themselves unequivocally and fully to stand on the side of Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor, and to take a serious and honest approach to reparations for those who paid the greatest price for the madness of Nazism" - Donald Tusk said in his address at the M100 Media Awards gala in Potsdam.
Ten artykuł czytasz w ramach bezpłatnego limitu

Follow the big issues that shape Polish politics and society by signing up to our weekly newsletter " News from Poland: Democracy at Stake ". It allows you to stay up to speed on developments concerning the ongoing assault on democratic institutions, rule of law, and human rights in Poland.

On Thursday, Donald Tusk delivered a laudation in honor of this year's M100 Media Awards laureates- the people of Ukraine. Speaking at the Orangery Palace at Sanssouci in Potsdam, the former Polish Prime Minister and current leader of the Civic Platform referred to the EU's policy towards the war in Ukraine and criticized Germany for not providing enough help. He also brought up the issue of war reparations.

Read the full transcript of Donald Tusk’s M100 Media Award gala speech below:


Dear Wladimir, Dear Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Mayor, Dear Madam President Osmani, Madam Ambassador of the United States, distinguished guests,

It was with great satisfaction that I accepted Wladimir Klitschko’s offer to deliver a laudation in honor of the heroic Ukrainian people honored by the hosts of today's ceremony.

As a Pole, as a friend and ally of Ukraine since the first days of its independence, as a declared European and a Westerner, a Westerner in terms of political values, I have the duty and the right to speak loudly and unequivocally about Ukraine's heroic struggle, about Russia's crimes committed every day of this war, about Europe's attitude, and about the importance of this war for the future of us all: from Kyiv to Lisbon. For our freedom and our security.

As noted by Timothy Snyder, this war will probably lay down the rules of politics and geopolitics for the entire 21st century and will decide the fate of democracy as such. Today, we pay tribute to heroic Ukraine, not only touched by its suffering and courage but also aware of the stakes of this war for all of us. The stakes are so high that we must talk about our role in this historical confrontation really honestly. Ukraine, as the last days have shown, has a chance to win this war, but it requires much greater support from Europe, and in particular from the largest and richest countries such as Germany.

And it is not only about symbolic support, warm words, awards, and distinctions, but about weapons, ammunition, planes, and tanks. There is no, let me emphasize, no reason why countries such as Germany, France, or Italy should get involved in helping Ukraine less than the United States, Poland, or the Baltic states. Putin attacked Ukraine, but it is simultaneously an attack on the entire democratic international community. Today, only those who are politically blind can deny the fact that Russia has long been at war with NATO and the European Union through various measures. The weakening of the North Atlantic Alliance, interfering in elections and amplifying social conflicts both in Europe and the United States, involvement in Brexit, are just examples of Russia’s large-scale political sabotage. The breakdown of the unity within the European Union is undoubtedly one of the Kremlin’s priorities.

Therefore, politically, we have no choice but to unequivocally stand on the side of Ukraine.

In the moral dimension, the matter is even more obvious. There hasn’t been such a black-and-white conflict for a long time, a conflict where the boundary between good and evil would be so clear. You know who is the aggressor and who is the victim here. Attempts to relativize this issue seem, to be frank, simply disgusting.

European politicians across the continent, also here in Berlin, who are looking for some symmetry, some historical and economic justification for remaining inactive or neutral, should be aware that if the aid from all Western countries- and I am talking especially about arms supplies – would be faster and bigger, many children would not have died in Ukraine, many women would not have been raped and murdered, many fewer cities, hospitals, and kindergartens would be bombed.

When I hear that Europe and Germany should have listened to Poland or the Baltic states about Kremlin’s aggressive policy many years ago, I, unfortunately, feel bitter satisfaction. Yes, we were right in 2008, when I was the Polish Prime Minister, to persuade you to admit Ukraine to NATO. And we were right when we warned you about the terrible geopolitical consequences of Nord Stream 2, or when I tried in 2014, after Russia’s first attack on Ukraine, to convince the Germans, French, and Italians to join the European energy union, which could make Europe independent from the Russian gas dictate. But we cannot turn back time, so let’s do now what we can and what must be done.

We are talking about an immediate increase in the supply of weapons, including heavy weaponry, for Ukraine. Political guarantees for Ukraine’s full membership in the European Union as soon as possible once the war is over. Let us return to the issue of Ukraine’s NATO membership and real security guarantees for Kyiv in the future. Let us maintain the full unity of the European Union, the United States, and NATO in our policy of sanctions against Russia.

Not so long ago, we could still hear voices, including here in your country, saying that Germany cannot openly declare its support for Ukraine because of the memory of Russian World War II victims. And yet, World War II began with Germany's and Stalinist Russia's invasion of Poland, and the greatest victims of that war were the Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian people, and, of course, the Jewish people living in these countries.

If the sense of guilt and responsibility for the Second World War should oblige Germans to do anything today, it is first and foremost to commit themselves unequivocally and fully to stand on the side of Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor. And to take a serious and honest approach to reparations for those who paid the greatest price for the madness of Nazism. I say these words as a politician who has for years been involved in the process of Polish-German reconciliation and in the process of building a common Europe; after all, not as your opponent.

All arguments: moral, political, historical, and civilizational make us today side with Ukraine and its heroic defenders. Personally, and I am telling you this from the very bottom of my heart, I am very proud of my compatriots, who from the first days set an example for the entire world on how to behave in the face of this historical challenge.

I am also proud that today I am among the good-willed people who all without exception repeat the words: Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!


Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine. Our journalists are on the front lines in 32 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs.

The access to information should be equal for all.

Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation
icon/Bell Czytaj ten tekst i setki innych dzięki prenumeracie
Wybierz prenumeratę, by czytać to, co Cię ciekawi
Wyborcza.pl to zawsze sprawdzone informacje, szczere wywiady, zaskakujące reportaże i porady ekspertów w sprawach, którymi żyjemy na co dzień. Do tego magazyny o książkach, historii i teksty z mediów europejskich.
    Zaloguj się
    Chcesz dołączyć do dyskusji? Zostań naszym prenumeratorem
    This translation of Tusk's speech is inaccurate. Tusk said nothing of reparations. He specifically avoided this word because the Poland has no leg to stand on in this matter, which has been closed since 1953 from a legal standpoint. Instead, Tusk called for compensation to the victims. Those are different notions, with different legal ramifications.
    there is no legal agreement between Poland and Germany or Russia resigning from raparations!!
    już oceniałe(a)ś
    Poland officially relinquished all reparations from Germany in 1953. Whether you like it or not, for ideological or any other reason, this document has force of law and it is binding on this country. Poland confirmed this state of affairs during the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Polish-German Treaty on Good Neighborliness and Friendship in 1991. Poland has absolutely no legal avenues to reopen the question of reparations with regard to Germany. It may, however, demand the 15% share of German reparations that were given to the USSR and which the USSR undertook to give to Poland, as per the Potsdam Agreement. In am not certain how matters stand in this respect, but even there, good luck.
    That's for inter-state relations. Compensation for individual victims of atrocities and other abuse at the hands of the Germans during WWII, however, is another matter. That is what Tusk was speaking about during his speech, not reparations. The word was mistranslated.
    już oceniałe(a)ś
    i tego się trzeba trzymać, co poprzednik pisał - odszkodowanie dla ofiar i ich rodzin już teraz
    już oceniałe(a)ś