I am Marta Barandiy and today we Unlock Ukraine with a Member of European Parliament from Romania, Vlad Gheorghe.

Marta Barandiy: Vlad, thank you for hosting us in your office. I have been here once, and we had a very cosy conversation about your impact on Ukraine from the Parliament. Last week there was important decision taken about the Russian assets that will be or should be taken away from Russia and given to Ukrainian reconstruction. What can you say about this decision? How did that happen? How long did it take and when will it, finally, be effective?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, a lot of questions. First of all, thank you for coming. Welcome to my small office. Now it looks even smaller with all this equipment that people don’t see what we see now, but maybe you’ll show…

Marta Barandiy: We will take a picture.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yeah. Welcome to again to the European Parliament. Long question. I’m going to try to have a short answer. So, what we’re trying to do now is to get the money from the oligarchs as soon as possible to the Rebuild Ukraine fund. This is this is the first step. This is the shortest answer possible to your question. But this is the time when we are dealing again with the oligarchs. So that means private money. Well, almost private money that looks like private money. But money that is actually profiteering to the Putin’s regime and money that is being taken from either Russians or Ukrainians and put into different interests of the regime that is actually supporting directly or indirectly, the war against Ukraine. So, we are trying to get a hold of that money. When I say money, I mean any type of assets. So it’s not just money, it’s boats, it’s villas, it’s whatever. If they belong to a person that is on the sanction list and that person is trying to evade the sanctions that you has imposed against the oligarchs, or if they belong to any other person that is helping someone on the list to circumvent those actions, those sanctions, those assets again, money or whatever yachts or cars or whatever, though that money will be seized and put into a fund that is supposed to help the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Marta Barandiy: It is European fund? It’s the fund that is started by whom? Is it already functioning?

Vlad Gheorghe: It’s a European fund. It’s not functioning already. I gave you first the good news, now this is the, let’s say, not that good news. It’s not functioning already because now we are criminalising the act of circumventing the sanctions. So now we don’t have just the sanctions in themselves, but the act. If they are trying to circumvent those sanctions now it’s a criminal offence in the European Union and as such, as a consequence of that, we will get those assets that they are trying to hide or moreover simply use to benefit the Russian regime.

Martha Barandiy: So, it is only in case of the evasion, of trying to evade the sanctions?

Vlad Gheorghe: For now, it is only in case of trying to evade the sanctions, but again, it’s criminal and second, they lose those assets, which is very important, and the Member states will deal with this. The National Prosecutor’s office, but also the European Prosecutors office will oversee all that is affected by these transactions and movements. They will try to step in whenever it’s necessary to get to make sure that these cases get to Criminal Court.

Marta Barandiy: But it is your initiative. How did that happen? First of all, what exactly is this initiative? And then how did you manage to make it through?

Vlad Gheorghe: So, this is part of the bigger initiative. Let’s say the final goal here is to get all the Russian assets that we have in the European Union that are in any way linked to the Russian, to the regime, to Putin’s criminal regime to get them over to the Ukrainian people and to Ukraine to help them with the war effort or with the rebuilding of their country. And this is the first step, the part with the oligarchs. The second step of this bigger plan, if you wish, is the seizing of the Russian state’s asset, which probably 100 times more assets than the oligarchs have, and this is going to be further along the way. Now I’m working on a pilot project together with the European Commission to see how those state assets can be, let’s say, seized for good and then transferred and given to Ukraine in a legal way. Because that’s the challenge. European Union is managed by rule of law and that means that we need to find legal solutions to this.

Marta Barandiy: Yeah, because of state immunity, it is not possible to seize the Russian states assets at the moment.

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, that’s a big issue.

Marta Barandiy: What would be the legal ground or what could the politicians work on to make sure that there is legal ground for this?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, that’s what we’re doing now that’s what I said it’s a big issue. I heard that it’s impossible to send tanks to Ukraine. We were hearing that a year ago that it’s impossible for European Union to buy and send weapons to someone. Last year we heard about a lot of things being impossible. Guess what? Now everything is doable. Now everything is in present tense. So, I don’t think that seizing Russian assets is impossible.

Marta Barandiy: Is the convicting Russia of crime of aggression something that could be considered as the ground or recognising Russia as a terrorist state, maybe this could create a legal ground? If it is not just a political statement, but something that lawyers would work on?

Vlad Gheorghe: I would say that we have consensus and the fact that once Russia is designated as an aggressor state, that is the legal trigger for everything else that comes after that: seizing of the assets, moving the assets and so on and so forth. Again, that’s the legal trigger. You asked before about political decision. I think that the political consensus is here right now. So, the politicians are ready to decide on that. But again, we also need the legal basis, the legal ground, and that’s what we’re trying now to do. So, this is what my pilot project is all about: to find the legal ways, and this is why I’m working together with the Commission, to have big legal experts, have their opinions in what way can we do that? Again, that is enforceable in European courts because the Russians will have their dean court, and if we don’t do it as we should do it in a legal and smart way, we could have a serious problem on our hands after that. So again, we have the political decision that it’s waiting for the technical solution, and I think when we can overlap the two, we will have the definitive solution on Russian assets

Marta Barandiy: Talking as lawyers, you are a lawyer, and about legal grounds. A few weeks ago Putin was issued an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court. How do we consider him being legitimate president? How do we consider all the ambassadors and minister that he appointed be legitimate ones? The ones who are now sort of given the power from the criminal, sitting ahead of the state that is being recognised criminal. Is that something lawyers would need to look at? I mean, Russia is now in the UN Security Council presiding, though his minister is being appointed by the war criminal. How is this legally possible?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, I think what’s happening now in the Security Council, it’s a disgrace. I think President Zelensky’s right in saying that it’s another proof that that system is totally useless now and it’s we need to redefine that system. Because if a system gets to evolve into something like that and where we have criminal state led by someone against whom we have emitted the criminal arrest warrant, I think that’s the total failure of the system. So, I’ve started with the last part of your question, the first part that’s a political question I believe. I don’t think that that’s a legal question because, for now, as lawyers, we can say that we have the Russian state, with its representatives. They’re criminals? Yes, they are, most of them, not all of them, but most of them, they are criminals. But that’s a political opinion and a political issue. And I think again, we have, or we should have enough agreement here in the European Parliament and throughout the European Union that Putin is a dictator. He’s just like Stalin. He’s exactly like Stalin, exactly like Hitler. The only difference between them is the the years when they rule, but anything else is pretty much the same. And that’s something that everyone knows. But legally speaking, we can do things like this, like issuing criminal arrest warrants, and I think we should issue more arrest warrants. So, it’s a perfect thing that we started from the top and not from below, but we need to move downwards, because we need to point at those people, who have helped or even done horrible crimes in Ukraine and the world needs to know them. Now they know Putin. It’s a very good start, but again, it’s just the start. And legally speaking, that’s how we could progress. And if there are representatives of the Russian state who are going to be on that list of people who we need to arrest, if they come within the European Union, I think that’s the perfect legal response to your question.

Marta Barandiy: That would be, of course, wonderful to see, actually, Putin coming personally to preside in the Security Council of the United Nations.

Vlad Gheorghe: And yeah, I wouldn’t expect that.

Marta Barandiy: But that would be a good spectacular to see.

Vlad Gheorghe: That would be a fantastic failure of the system. But again, I think we’re not going to see that.

Marta Barandiy: Unfortunately, because if he comes, he would be arrested.

Vlad Gheorghe: Exactly. I think he’s scared. That’s why I don’t think we will see that.

Marta Barandiy: What are other successful political projects that you let here, in the European Parliament? You are also not only taking care of Ukraine issue. You are taking care of the issues of the eco side. Is there something that you are proud of in the terms of fighting the eco side?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, actually I am. But it also touches on Ukraine, because my proposal, my favourite project in the European Parliament is the European Green Prosecutor. So, that’s a special prosecutor for environment with access to criminal cases throughout all of the EU. So, this is what I’ve been working on, it’s taking shape now, we’ve already had some positive votes and we’ve included this in the green crime law. So, this is could affect Ukraine some time. Today it’s for the European Union, but tomorrow it’s also for the next members in the European Union, same European Union but more members. So that would mean that eventually when Ukraine gets to be a full member in the European Union, you will have European green prosecutors in Ukraine handling cases about environmental protections.

Marta Barandiy: What are the crimes like? What should be Ukrainians today aware of to go against the environmental crime?

Vlad Gheorghe: The most common crime in my country in Romania is illegal deforestation. This is a huge thing because it impacts so many people and so many climate aspects. Second, I would say also in Western Europe and in coastal Europe, it’s trafficking of endangered species. That is huge. It’s more than €3 billion per year as a black market and everything is going usually towards Asia. We have also illegal waste trafficking: import or export of illegal waste from a country to other, which is again, it’s hugely polluting. And we can also talk about radioactive waste. It’s happening. It doesn’t need to be from a nuclear power plant, it can be from hospitals or from every any source of radiation. So, these are the main issues that we need the European green prosecutor for.

Marta Barandiy: Would this environmental standard or aspects to be included in Copenhagen criteria? would that be something you are trying to achieve?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, we are hopeful that they will be there. But again, we do have standards now. The problem is with enforcing it. It’s the same like with the sanctions against oligarchs or against Russian politicians or whatever. We do have the sanctions, but if we don’t criminalise the circumvention of sanctions, the efficiency is pretty low. It’s exactly the same thing with green crime. We do have standards now, but if we don’t have someone specialised and able to enforce those rules, the rules become pretty much useless. So that’s the idea behind it.

Marta Barandiy: So, if it is in Copenhagen criteria, then Ukraine has no other choice than to commit to being environmentally friendly…

Vlad Gheorghe: Of course, but…to be environmentally friendly today, I don’t think it’s a doctrine or a choice. It’s something about survival, because as we see what’s happening with the climate, as we see what damage these environmental crimes can bring directly for the citizens and their properties, I think this is a must and this is what I’ve been telling my colleagues here: It’s something that we need to do yesterday, not tomorrow.

Marta Barandiy: We want Ukraine to become member of European Union as soon as possible. I think that Ukraine is still behind the schedule in terms of this environmental issues. Is it something that would prevent Ukraine from being a member of European Union? Is it something that… or maybe just Ukraine has to commit, and it that would be already enough for us to be a full member of the EU?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, this is a huge topic. There are a lot of things to be discussed about and we’re talking about rule of law, about anti-corruption and I think this is on that subject. So, you know the environmental rules. If you have rules that are not taken into consideration and they’re not enforced properly, I think the rules are useless.

Marta Barandiy: When would you see Ukraine in the EU?

Vlad Gheorghe: As soon as possible.

Marta Barandiy: Well, 2029 be soon enough?

Vlad Gheorghe: I would say it’s a realistic time frame. I would like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in 2029 in the European Union, maybe even before that, but this is my heart speaking. My head says that 2029 is the realistic term, but again, we’re doing everything possible to get you and Moldova and Georgia even faster than that in the European Union. Because I’m Romanian, I know what the difference is between not being inside the European Union and then becoming a full member of the European Union. And trust me, that will change your country for the good.

Marta Barandiy: How? What is the difference?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, first, again, it’s the rule of law, the fact that there are different institutions guarding your rights, the way that your state is handling your rights, or respecting or not respecting your rights and then this is the abstract part, but you can feel it as a citizen. But also, we’re talking about development. Romania has developed hugely, after becoming a full member of the European Union, and I’m sure that that’s going to be the case for all the countries that are going to come in the next extension of the European Union.

Marta Barandiy: You are helping Ukraine not only from here. You are helping Ukraine as an individual. You created the group, very big one and now there are more than 200,000 participants.

Vlad Gheorghe: 290,000 or something.

Marta Barandiy: That’s incredible. How did you create it year ago just before the invasion?

Vlad Gheorghe: I think I created it a week before the war started.

Marta Barandiy: How? Did you already have feelings that the war is going to be there?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, the information was out there. We all knew that it’s going to happen. No one knew exactly when but we knew that Putin is going to do something crazy. We had this huge build-up of weapons and army close to your borders. So, something was going to happen and we thought, OK, we need to do something. What can we do? We are civilians. We will help the eventual refugees, because every time there is armed conflict, there will be refugees. And that’s how we started organising ourselves within a Facebook group.

Marta Barandiy: So you have anticipated that the refugees may come and you just started the group. Were you alone or there was someone else?

Vlad Gheorghe: It was my idea, but I talked to people that I’m close to, to people that were close. We worked together in different social areas, in the past, with different ideas similar to this.

Marta Barandiy: What’s the name of the group?

Vlad Gheorghe: United for Ukraine.

Marta Barandiy: In Romanian how do you say that?

Vlad Gheorghe: Unite pentru Ucraina.

Marta Barandiy: United for Ukraine.

Vlad Gheorghe: Exactly.

Marta Barandiy: And this group, does it have this mission that you put on it? Can you say that it is successful in its mission? What actually it has done in this one year?

Vlad Gheorghe: It was hugely successful. First of all, I anticipated the conflict, but I didn’t anticipate the extent of it. I didn’t expect the amount of refugees, the number of refugees, and I also didn’t expect the Romanian citizens reaction to that. All of these were huge. So, we had a huge number of refugees, but we also had a huge number of volunteers willing to help them. We had a lot of resources put there on the group. And when I say about resources, I’m not saying money, I’m saying people willing to transport refugees, people willing to house refugees, which was hugely important, of course, donations of every time. And also important, we had translators, we had people on the borders. Everything was done through the group, via that Facebook group, and I know it sounds incredible. It is incredible, but it happened and it still happening today: We have thousands of posts every day and actual people being helped.

Marta Barandiy: When we are speaking about the eco side, we are not only talking about Ukrainians or Ukrainian deforestations and things like that, it’s also about Russia making sure that Ukraine doesn’t survive. It is stealing basically our black soil and is making sure that we don’t have things to grow…

Vlad Gheorghe: Yeah, polluting on purpose.

Marta Barandiy: Yes. Will Russia be responsible for that as well? Because this is eco side from their side. Is this war crime? Can this be considered as a war crime?

Vlad Gheorghe: Firstly, for sure it’s a war crime. Because it has the purpose of affecting civilians in mass, in huge numbers. So, this it’s the definition of a war crime and it will be part of the reconstruction of Ukraine. They will be firstly criminally responsible for this as a war crime and secondly, they will be responsible to make up for the loss that Ukraine or Ukrainians have suffered. Because of the reaction. So definitely this is going to be very important and I think we’re talking about huge amounts of money that they will need to pay. Of course they won’t want to pay and we need to get them from their assets that we have here in the European Union and in America and also everywhere we can get jurisdiction.

Marta Barandiy: Would you include it in some of the resolutions of the European Parliament or it is already maybe in the resolutions?

Vlad Gheorghe: It is, but I think it should become more prominent. We didn’t concentrate on that we concentrated on other issues, but I think in future resolutions and in future text we will have more and more on that, because it’s also a growing problem. I think that they’re very frustrated, because they’re losing the war, and now they’re trying to do something to cause as much damage as they can and this is one of the ways they’re trying to…

Marta Barandiy: They’re trying to destroy one of the best soils in the world that gives grain…

Vlad, you are not only politician, you are a lawyer and you are an activist. Do you consider yourself still an activist?

Vlad Gheorghe: Of course, definitely. I always answer this question like that. Yes.

Marta Barandiy: Were you attached to NGO? Were you working for an NGO?

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes, I’ve been working for an NGO since the beginning of my college years. Again, the environmental causes, but also civil causes. This is How I met the people that I’m working with on the group on United for Ukraine, because we were people who usually worked, who were volunteers for different causes. And this is how it actually got me here, because by volunteering together with different colleagues, we got to set up a party, a party that is now also has representatives in the European Parliament, one of them being me.

Marta Barandiy: So basically, you are a founder of a party that brought you here.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes, yes.

Marta Barandiy: Congratulations.

Vlad Gheorghe: Thank you.

Marta Barandiy: So it’s a group of people who were activists, set up a party to became more politically vocal. Wow. It’s something that I think people should follow, because this is an example on how you can influence politics from bottom up.

Vlad Gheorghe: This was part of our choice. This is why we’re doing it, and this is why we are here, because we decided that we need more. We were fighting in the courts. And we had court decisions, but the politicians just ignored them. And we said, OK, we’re doing that, but we need to be there to participate in the decision making to ensure that things are really getting done. This is how we got to be a political party, then it grew from that.

Marta Barandiy: And you are satisfied with the way how it goes now? Is that everything like your group or your party set up the programme? Are you capable of realising this programme here?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, again, the answer to this question is kind of standard. We can always do more, and we try to do more. In Romania, these are the same topics that we work for. So, rule of law, environmental issues.

Marta Barandiy: Anti-corruption?

Vlad Gheorghe: Anti-corruption, which is rule of law. Yeah, it’s a part of the rule of law thing.

Marta Barandiy: What are the anti-corruption bodies in Romania that were probably set up just before the entrance of Romania into European Union or after? What can Ukraine learn from that?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, a very important thing that has been done by Romania in order to get to be a member of the European Union was to set up a specialised prosecutors office for anti-corruption cases. And when I say anti-corruption, I don’t mean the small cases, I mean bigger, more important cases. And that was an important pillar on which Romania got to become a member of the European Union. Actually, the ex-head of that prosecutor’s office is Laura Codruța Kövesi, which is now the Chief European Prosecutor from EPO, European Prosecutors Office.

Marta Barandiy: Few years ago, there were protests in Romania about this anti-corruption. Did you participate in?

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes, definitely. I did participate in I think in all those protests, because there were so important not just for us, but the whole of of Romanian society and also for our country.

Marta Barandiy: But it happened when Romania was already a member in the EU.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes.

Marta Barandiy: Can you remind our audience how come that people started reacting against corruption in the country that was already a member?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, it was something boiling and it was in the air because we had this specialised anti-corruption body. Specialised prosecutor has prosecuted a lot of politicians, a lot of them, I mean hundreds and even an ex-Prime Minister of Romania was prosecuted and convicted. So, the people started to see that things are working, that’s corruption is really being eradicated in Romania. It was something unheard of before. And then a new political power came and they said, OK, we’re going to rework the Criminal Code. And that reworking meant that they will actually shut down the majority of corruption cases by changing the law, making it very hard for the prosecutors to work on their cases. I’m not going to go into details, but that was the idea of it. When people saw this, they said: OK, we had enough. It was something good that was starting and now they’re trying to cut it and to stop it. This is why people went onto the street saying that Romania is not a country of thieves, and we don’t want Romania in the hands of the thieves.

Marta Barandiy: Vlad, you are an activist, you’re a lawyer, you’re politician, but you were born in the non-democratic, country in the communist time. Do you still have memories from that time? How did that change your perspectives or how did this influence your today’s stance on democracy?

Vlad Gheorghe: I have some memories, not a lot because I was five when Romania became a democratic state again. Beyond my few memories, I know what my parents told me and I know the stories which are true, because they lived it. I have an older brother. I know what my brother tells me of what was happening before. And this is an experience that changes you. This is why I think we still have this difference between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, because if you didn’t live through it, you cannot understand. You can be empathic, but you cannot fully understand something that you don’t live. Exactly like what’s happening in Ukraine. If you don’t live through something like this, maybe as further as you are from the events, maybe you’ll understand just a part of it. This is why we need to show to as many people now what’s happening to make them really understand. Because if you understand something, you are immune to propaganda, to fake news. If you don’t understand something, maybe you are more permissive to those fake news.

Marta Barandiy: Yeah, what about Moldova? in Ukraine, there is a full-scale invasion. But Moldova is also a country that has Transnistria and has this issue. Is it something that can prevent Moldova from becoming a member of the EU, I mean perception of population, of people? How is it there?

Vlad Gheorghe: Moldova is the same as Ukraine in so many aspects. You need to remember that they have Russian troops on their territory exactly like you do. They don’t have a full-scale war on their territory, but they have a hybrid war now going on their territory. So those similarities show that they are in as much danger as they have ever been. This is why we’re constantly trying to help Moldova stay on its path toward entering the European Union and building ties with the civilised world. I don’t think that Transnistria should block the accession of Moldova into the European Union. We cannot ignore the fact that they have Russian troops there. But again, I don’t see a bigger problem. I see kind of a solution around it. And as you said, yes, of course that affects the Moldovan people, the way they think. And again, that makes them more able to hear more fake news and propaganda from the Russians. We have a Russian speaking part of the population there. So, there are many ethnic issues, but I think that we can work with and not work against that.

Marta Barandiy: Vlad, we need more people like you in the European Parliament and we need you in the European Parliament, maybe even higher and maybe even like in the executive bodies. What is your plan for future elections? Are you going to participate?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, definitely I will participate in future elections. I will be an advocate for these topics that we’ve been talking about, because many of those need more time to become reality. I will do my best to have them implemented as fast as possible, but if we’re realistic, some of them cannot be made before 2024. And my main plan is to continue while I started, after that we’ll see. But it’s not in my habit of starting things and not finishing them.

Marta Barandiy: So, you like very much what you do, but how do you balance your professional political life with your personal life? You have kids.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes, I do have.

Marta Barandiy: Do you spend time with them? Do you play football or, do you play with them?

Vlad Gheorghe: Well, you touched the sensitive chord there. I don’t spend enough time with my family. I think I dedicate too much time to my work, but every time something happens, we always have in our line of work, there are always emergencies, there are always people who need help. But I do have a beautiful family and that I’m very proud of and one of my New Year resolutions is to try to spend more time with them, because they give me the comfort and the energy to work, to do the things that I do. If I wouldn’t have them, I wouldn’t be able to do nearly 20% of what I’m doing.

Marta Barandiy: So, it is your motivation and for them is to see that how human being should be in our world to defend the right goals.

Vlad Gheorghe: The kids just want daddy home. That’s a tough thing to balance.

Marta Barandiy: You know, when few years ago my daughter told me: Mama, you know, I want to be like you. I didn’t spend time with her a lot as well, but when we were going in the elevator, she just looked at me and said: You know, I want to be like you, I want to be blonde and promote Ukraine. Yeah, you maybe don’t spend time enough, but if you are an example for them to follow, it can impact them even more, it has a greater impact on their life and their future and the life of those around them.

Vlad Gheorghe: That’s for sure. So, examples they do have. But I’m trying to get them to see me as much as possible and to strike this balance between work and personal life that today it’s not balanced at all, but that’s life.

Marta Barandiy: We read that you speak Japanese or maybe you can you say something in Japanese?

Vlad Gheorghe: I had courses of Japanese and I’ve been to Japan, I was very passionate about Japanese culture and  still I am, but I don’t have the time anymore to study about it. But if you don’t work on a language, you kind of lose it. But things like “Konichiwa” …

Marta Barandiy: What does it mean?

Vlad Gheorghe: That means “Good day/how are you” or things like that I can say, but more than that I’m not. I was able to write in basic Japanese.

Marta Barandiy: When was it?

Vlad Gheorghe: That was lots of years before, I think it could come back to me, if I have the opportunity to try.

Marha Barandiy: So interesting.

Vlad Gheorghe: I forgot that I knew that, you actually reminded me, because I didn’t use it anymore.

Marta Barandiy: So maybe you will have now a motivation to start it.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yes. When I will have the time again. We’re talking about time. I need a 36-hour day or something like that could solve a lot of my problems.

Marta Barandiy: When we fight propaganda, when we try to explain to people why Russian invasion is illegal and why Crimea is actually not Russian, people have counter arguments saying: Look, before it was the territory of Ukraine or this territory was belonging to Russia, so now Russia is just taking the things back. This is a barbarian way of explaining things, or a barbarian way of getting your own thing which you think is your own. There was a dispute between Ukraine and Romania about Zmiinyi Ostriv or I would say Snake Island. How you say it in Romanian?

Vlad Gheorghe: Insula Șerpilor.

Marta Barandiy: This dispute, it was solved in court. How can we use this example to people who give us this counter arguments and defending Russians, the way of solving things?

Vlad Gheorghe: The story about Snake Island was that we had longstanding disagreements between Ukraine and Romania, and maybe it’s not just the example of Snake Island, it can be more other examples. But we went into international court. The different sides of the two states were against each other and there was a decision, a decision everyone accepted. Maybe not everyone was happy with it, but everyone accepted and applied that decision, because this is how civilised people behave in an international rule of law system, otherwise it’s crazy people waging war on their neighbours and killing innocent people. For what?

Marta Barandiy: War of all against all.

Vlad Gheorghe: Yeah, exactly. Of course, we can always choose: Crazy world, nonstop war, never ending war- Peace and prosperity. I would say that a reasonable, sane person would choose the second one. In any part of Europe we had a lot of conflicts. We basically invented the conflicts. So it was everyone against everyone in one particular time in history. If we start going back to that… First, I don’t think that we’re going towards civilization, and I think we’re going backwards. Second, there is no ending. It’s who was there first. There’s no ending to that story that would mean a never-ending war. That’s crazy. This is why we have the European Union. This is why we have the States. This is why we have an international legal system to prevent something like that from ever happening again. Because if we want World War I, World War II all over again and any other war again. Europe’s history is full of wars. If you can think of a war, we had it. But we are learning from the history books. We’re not repeating the mistakes in history, which is what Russia is doing. So that’s what I would say to those people: People, you are benefiting from over 70 years of peace. Our parents knew something different. Our grandparents were involved maybe in two World Wars. They knew the price of peace. It’s basically priceless. Don’t go over what your forefathers know. Don’t try to open that because it’s simply crazy. So, this is what I would tell them.

Marta Barandiy: Vlad, is there anything you want to say from yourself to Ukrainians?

Vlad Gheorghe: So, stand fast. You are right. You will win for sure because you are real people defending your country. And just one more thing, be careful listening to this: Борітеся — поборете!

Marta Barandiy: Vlad, thank you very much for very insightful discussion. I hope first in a row, I hope that in half a year or after two years you become again a member of European Parliament, we will talk again about the successes and about the victory, Ukrainian victory and maybe Ukrainian membership already in the EU. So, thank you for everything. I wish you success in everything you do. We are here for you, Ukrainians of Belgium, Ukrainians of Romania are there for you and I am calling on people to vote for Vlad if you have this opportunity and rights. This was Unlock Ukraine with Romanian MEP Vlad Gheorghe, an activist, a lawyer, a politician, and the one who stands by our side. Don’t forget to subscribe and see you next time.

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