Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s speech at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2024

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Distinguished guests.

Welcome to Copenhagen. I am honoured to be here today. To open this year’s Summit.

Thank you, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Former prime minister of Denmark. Former NATO Secretary General. For your tireless work to build democratic alliances worldwide.

* * *

Once we thought the idea of democracy was like water.

When it rains, small streams would form. Small streams that would turn to larger streams. That would become rivers.
And eventually they would be one great democratic lake.

We believed so much in the benefits of democracy.

That we were blind to those who saw the world differently. Those who wished to harm us.

We have been too naive. And that comes at a high price.

Worldwide, we are unfortunately seeing major democratic setbacks.

And in Europe, we are still in the process of understanding the consequences of war returning to our continent.

Right now, Ukraine’s soldiers are fighting not only for a free Ukraine. But for a free Europe.

For democracy. Self-determination. Sovereignty. Freedom.

For me it is clear: Russia will not stop.

What we see is pure imperialism. Pure use of violence as a political means.

We have seen it before. And we will see it again. Unless we act.

That is why I believe there is a before and an after 24th February 2022. For Ukraine. And for democracies all over the world.

* * *

Right now, the situation in Ukraine is critical. It is too critical.

Let me repeat the very clear and the very simple message from President Zelenskyy. They are in a desperate need of ammunition. Weapons. First of all, air defence.

For more than two years, many countries have supported Ukraine. But are we also willing to make sure that our support lasts for as long as it takes? Are we willing to ensure that Ukraine does not lose the war?

I am glad that Germany has donated another Patriot air defence system. Now we need five or six more systems going to Ukraine.

And I am glad that the US Congress just passed the 61-billion-dollar aid package to Ukraine.

Denmark welcomes all efforts. But we have to do more.

My message today is just as optimistic as it is pessimistic.

If we accelerate the necessary donations. Especially air defence, ammunition, drones and fighter jets. From Denmark and others. Ukraine have the will to win.

But if we continue to donate too little too late, there is a big risk that Ukraine will lose this war. That we will lose.

And yes. It is quite clear that you cannot win peace with war.

But is it also very obvious that a country cannot defend itself with words alone.

Ukraine can only prevail, if we once again speed up donations.

* * *

As you all know, in recent weeks the city of Kharkiv has been heavily bombed. Again.

They are now targeting energy infrastructure.

Killing innocent civilians.

I think Putin’s mission seems clear:

To make life unbearable for the people in Ukraine. So they one day will give up fighting.

Russia tries to break the soul of the country.

* * *

Putin and Russia are trying to make Ukraine give up. To make Europe give up.

And at the same time, Russia is in the middle of destabilising many other regions. Look at Sahel in Africa. Look at Syria in the Middle East. They are working more closely together with North Korea and Iran.

We are now seeing a number of Russian hybrid operations. On NATO soil.

Sabotage. Cyber attacks. Electronic disruptions. Disinformation.

To put pressure on all of us.

This is extremely concerning. And let me be absolutely clear. It will have absolutely no effect that Putin is hoping for. We are not going to stop our support to Ukraine.

Instead, we have to warn our own populations. We have a powerful neighbour that does not want anything good for us. Russia does not seek peace.

All this aside.

Every single day, Ukraine is moving closer to NATO and the EU. I think it is impressive how Ukraine reforms and adapts to the EU, despite being in the middle of a war.

Ukraine belongs to our transatlantic family. And it is our finest job to support Ukraine all the way.

Both the EU and NATO are stronger today than we were when the war began. With more Allies and deeper partnerships. The world’s democracies are actually coming together in these years.

Nobody knows what is at stake for real. I think we are at the beginning of a new era. I think we in these months, are defining the future of the international world order.

And of our own respective future.

A democracy that does not have the will to defend itself, will at some point die out.

We are too many countries – Denmark included – that have cut down too much on our defence.

What is important here and now is to give Ukraine what they need.

But that must go hand-in-hand with massive investments in our own collective deterrence and defence.

To deter Russia. And to provide our own populations with peace and security.

For far too long, Denmark did not live up to the 2 % defence investment pledge.

We now do. Like many other Allies.

Which leads me back to my first question:

Are we willing to prevent Ukraine from losing this war. If we are not willing to prevent Ukraine from losing this war, they will lose it. And then we will lose. And then Europe will lose.

That is my message today.

Thank you for inviting me.

Good luck with your discussions. And thank you, all of you, for your strong commitment.

Thank you.