Wednesday 2nd March 2022 – Mike Smith
Several hundred people gathered in front of the town hall building in the heart of the historic centre of Xàbia to show their support for the Ukrainian community in the town as well as calling for peace in the eastern European country after almost a week of conflict after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Many Ukrainians were draped the the now familiar blue and yellow flag of Ukraine, their faces also painted in their nation’s colours. They were sombre but determined; some shed a tear but quickly wiped it away in defiance. Although they lived in Xàbia, Putin’s forces had invaded the land of their birth, where they still had roots and family. And their thoughts were passionately conveyed through the words of Inna, Alexandra and Natacha, expressions that received great applause from those gathered in the square and on the steps of the church.
Many carried placards and messages, not only Ukrainians. In Spanish, Valencian and English, they said no to war, that peace had to supported, whilst, in a direct message to Russian President Vladimir Putin – in English – one even suggested that “Putin go **** yourself”, a strong sentiment that was clearly supported by those who passed by.
Mayor José Chulvi, unusually sombre in expression, made a passionate speech declaring that war is a failure of humanity and that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reminds us of our fragility”. He said that “we have had the privilege of being a generation accustomed to peace and perhaps for this reason it has been harder and more disconcerting to suddenly learn its fragility and that we can never take it for granted”.
He said that Xàbia cannot ignore what is going on in Ukraine and across eastern Europe, where refugees flee the violence into neighbouring countries. “Today we raise our small voice to roundly condemn the unacceptable military actions of the Putin government in Ukraine, disregarding international legality and its sovereignty”.
He also denounced Putin’s strong warning to the rest of the world, of the “arrogance of being a nuclear power towards any other nation willing to help”.
With a strong voice, he also wanted to convey the solidarity and cooperation with the Ukrainian people in their struggle for survival and for the defence of their country, whilst also assuring them of “our affection and willingness to help the Ukrainians who came … to make a new life with us and today are our neighbours”, adding that they should “know we share your pain” and that “the Valencian community wants to continue being a safe and welcoming space for coexistence, as it has always been”.
He also called on the countries of Europe to “live up to what is expected of our Union; that they have the sense, the greatness, the generosity and also the firmness that an hour as dark as the one we live in needs”, adding that “let us all work for peace and coexistence, to defend what we believe in. Each one of us in the sphere of our responsibility. Because sometimes the sum of the small actions is the one that brings about the big changes”.
A minutes’ silence to remember those who have already lost their lives in this tragic war was also observed impeccably by those who had gathered in the heart of Xàbia, before the Ukrainian community sang their national anthem with passion.
A single Ukrainian flag hangs from one of the windows of the town hall building, a simple message that Xàbia is with Ukraine. #xabiaconucrania.