As a representative of the attacked party, Zelensky’s message is given additional weight. “His compatriots are attacked, so if he shows anger, you immediately believe it,” says De Jong. According to him, it helps that the president speaks clearly in short sentences with simple words.
According to the professor, the choice to exchange his costume for the now characteristic army green t-shirt is also a spotlight. This accentuates the seriousness of the situation and reinforces Zelensky’s image as a sober leader. “He looks like a powerful man who just came out of the trench.”
‘Grazie’, but no ‘danke’
The president also adapts his tone to the country he is addressing. It is aimed at presidents who are doing well in Zelensky’s eyes, such as those of Poland and Canada. Sometimes it also throws a thank you note in the local language, like arigato in Japan and Thank you in Italy.
In the Bundestag in Berlin, on the other hand, no Thank you noted. Zelensky also addressed the Chancellor by his surname Scholz. “You notice that with his message he wants to choose whether to put pressure on a country, like Germany, or above all to give thanks, like Poland.”
Comparison of the Holocaust
In the Israeli Knesset, Zelensky appears to have overplayed his hand. He called it incomprehensible that the Israeli government barely participates in sanctions against Russia and that the country does not provide military support to Ukraine. He made the comparison with the Holocaust, which is extremely sensitive in Israel.
Many Israeli politicians felt that Zelensky had gone too far. After the speech, Israel’s policy towards Russia changed little, if at all.
Is such a speech useful?
It is indeed impossible to say to what extent the presidential speeches in kyiv have a direct consequence in terms of promises or emergency aid. Too many factors play a role for this.
According to Criekemans, the information campaign carried out by the Ukrainian government as a whole has certainly contributed to the significant military and humanitarian support from abroad. But despite this support, it remains a battle between David and Goliath, underlines the expert.
“Zelensky can make speeches in dozens of countries, but that won’t change the situation in Donbass.” It is inevitable that Russia will eventually take this eastern region, according to the expert.
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