November 25, 2015
JOHN MASANAUSKASHerald Sun
FORMER PM Tony Abbott was mobbed by Ukrainian community supporters today after
he recalled his famous “shirtfront” comment against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Abott is popular among the Ukrainian community at the OzUke forum. Picture: Mike Keating
Mr Abbott received a hero’s welcome at an Australia-Ukraine business forum in Carlton where he was given an inaugural freedom award for his support of Ukraine against Russian aggression.
The former PM had taken a strong stance against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and its alleged involvement in the shooting down of passenger jet MH17.
“(I wanted) in particular to assert universal decencies of mankind against their violators whether that be a terrorist caliphate or a Russian president that needed shirtfronting,” he said.
“I have to say that in those two years (as PM) almost nothing has given me more satisfaction than working with Ukraine and your splendid president at this critical time in the life of our countries.”
Tony Abbott receives his award from Stefan Romanin AFUO Chairman. Picture: Mike Keating
The OzUke 2015 forum had earlier seen video messages from Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations chairman Stefan Romaniw praised Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop for their courage in standing up to Mr Putin on issues of freedom and sovereignty.
“You changed the diplomatic rhetoric and called a spade a spade,” he told Mr Abbott.
“You led the charge.”
Mr Abbott was mobbed by dozens of delegates at the conference, including attendees from Ukraine, after receiving the AFUO award.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Dr Mykola Kulinich said that Mr Abbott had acted decisively in support of freedom and other Western values.
“He understood that it was a critical, crucial time to say what he said.”
“I’m very sure that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will go on supporting Ukraine and we are looking forward with optimism to work with him.”
Mr Abbott declined to speak to media after the event.
(Re-posted from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/former-pm-tony-abbott-mobbed-after-shirtfront-mention-as-he-receives-ukrainian-freedom-gong-in-melbourne/news-story/63ebe55b1f0f24985b75abbb4b897aa6 )