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from La Fayette to Pope Francis, five landmark speeches to Congress

Volodymyr Zelensky was acclaimed by the US Congress on Wednesday December 21, 300 days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In all, leaders from 48 countries have been authorized to address US senators and members of the House of Representatives since 1824. France, with nine speeches, holds the record.

► The Marquis de La Fayette, first foreigner before Congress

Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette is probably America’s best French friend. He joined the American insurgents, who fought for their independence from the United Kingdom, in 1777. He was named general at the age of 19 by George Washington and played a decisive role in the American victory. Becoming one of eight honorary citizens of the United States, he made a triumphal trip to the country in 1824.

It was then that he became the first foreigner to be welcomed by Congress. Unlike Volodymyr Zelensky, he addresses both chambers separately, first to the Senate, then to the House of Representatives. The Marquis de La Fayette receives on this occasion 200,000 dollars for services rendered in the United States (nearly 6 million euros today).

► Winston Churchill, three appearances before Congress

Winston Churchill is the first foreigner to address Congress three times. His best-known speech took place on December 26, 1941, shortly after the United States entered the war on the side of the British in World War II.

Broadcast live by three national radio stations, it delivers a speech “full of sparkling humor, determined courage and difficult truths”, report it New York Times at the time. Like Volodymyr Zelensky, Winston Churchill at the time begged the United States to throw all their weight into a conflict that was tearing Europe apart.

► Francis, first pope at the Capitol

Pope Francis becomes the first pontiff to address the US Congress in 2015. He addresses the subject of the migration crisis, global warming and the death penalty, a controversial issue in the United States.

“The golden rule of ‘whatever you would like others to do for you, do it for others’ also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me since the beginning of my ministry to defend, at different levels, the cause of the total abolition of the death penalty”he declares to the elected officials.

Francis also pays homage to Martin Luther King and his dream of an America where “equal civil and political rights for black Americans”.

► Benjamin Netanyahu, the other record holder

With Winston Churchill, Binyamin Netanyahu shares the privilege of having addressed Congress three times. His intervention in 2015 caused a lot of ink to flow. Binyamin Netanyahu’s goal was then to “Torpedo the nuclear deal between Iran and the United States”according to online media Vox.

The head of the Israeli government denounces a “very bad agreement”. According to him, this would actually allow the mullahs’ regime to acquire atomic weapons, because it allows the country to keep its nuclear infrastructure. Barack Obama had reacted by declaring that the Israeli Prime Minister was not proposing “no credible alternative” to this agreement.

► Volodymyr Zelensky, the memory of Churchill

Volodymyr Zelensky joined the short list of foreign leaders who addressed Congress on Wednesday December 22. “I would like to thank you, thank you very much for the financial aid that you have granted us and that which you may decidedeclared on this occasion the Ukrainian president. Your money is not charity, it is an investment in global security and democracy, which we manage in the most responsible way. »

“Contrary to the most dire predictions, Ukraine has not fallen. Ukraine is alive and fighting”, said Volodymyr Zelensky, wearing a khaki sweater with the Ukrainian trident. She “holds its positions and will never surrender”.


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