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Remarks by President Michel at the Second Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen on Ukraine and the World

Remarks given recently (23 July 2022) by President Michel at the Second Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen on Ukraine and the World.

Dear Ukrainian brothers and sisters. You, the people of Ukraine, are bravely fighting for your freedom. And we support you. We support you, and we support your country. Since day one, we have stood by you in unity and with concrete support. And we are right by your side, and will be, for as long as it takes.

Last March we clearly stated that Ukraine belongs to our European family. And at our last European Council meeting in June, we kept our word, and we agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine. And we spare no effort in condemning Russia and supporting Ukraine. We are also working to combat Russia's false narratives and will continue to provide military support to Ukraine. Just this week, we agreed to provide another €500 million to support Ukraine's military. And this brings the total amount to €2.5 billion.

We are also continuing to ramp up the pressure on Russia. Just two days ago, the EU passed another round of sanctions targeting Russian gold exports, tightening existing measures, reinforcing export controls and listing more individuals and entities.

We will also continue to provide financial support to Ukraine. In May, the European Council decided on the principle of a new, exceptional macro-financial assistance of up to €9 billion. Two weeks ago, the Council adopted a decision to provide €1 billion as a matter of urgency. This is not enough, and I know that we need to do more.

The EU has also allowed temporary trade liberalisation and other trade facilities for certain Ukrainian products. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine's reconstruction. You mentioned reconstruction is so important both for immediate rehabilitation needs and for a modernised and forward-looking Ukraine. And this will go hand in hand with reforms consistent with Ukraine's European path.

We must never forget, and we will never forget, the human cost of this war – the greatest tragedy. Russia's war is having a dramatic impact on Ukrainian kids, Ukrainian women, men, families, and Ukrainian communities. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced within Ukraine and millions have fled the war to the EU. And we are supporting them the best we can.

We will also hold accountable those responsible for crimes and human rights abuses. And we are helping efforts to collect the evidence because impunity is not an option. We fully support the investigations by both the Ukrainian and international judicial authorities. And we also condemn the illegal and cynical treatment of Ukrainian prisoners by Russia. We will always stand up for international humanitarian law, including the treatment of prisoners of war.

The Kremlin's war is also having a dramatic impact on global food security. Several months ago, I visited Odesa, with you, dear Prime Minister. Odesa was targeted just a few hours ago by Russian missiles. And I saw in Odesa millions of tons of grain stuck in containers and ships because of the Russian blockade of the Black Sea, and because of the Russian tanks, the Russian bombs and Russian mines that are preventing Ukraine from planting and harvesting. This is dramatically endangering millions of lives across the world, especially in the global south. I just came back from Africa, where I met African leaders. They know that the situation is extremely difficult for them and could be even more difficult in the future. And we must also clearly call out Russia's lies about the causes of the global food crisis. Russia's war is solely to blame for this crisis. The EU has no sanctions on the agricultural sector in Russia, and it's why we welcome yesterday's agreement under the auspices of the United Nations to unblock the Black Sea for exports of grains and fertilisers. And now, it must be implemented swiftly and in good faith.

Eight years ago, at the Maidan Revolution, the Revolution of dignity, the people of Ukraine took to the streets for freedom and hope. And this was certainly a turning point for your proud people, for your brave nation, on the path towards dignity and democracy. I will never forget my visit to Maidan with you, Minister Kuleba, to pay tribute to the victims. I remember I was moved and touched to the core by your bravery, by your vision of a free and democratic Ukraine. A year ago, together with President Zelensky, I had the occasion to visit Donbas. And I felt deep in my heart your hope. I felt deep in my heart your pride and your dreams of a nation. A nation ready to fight, ready to defend your country, ready to defend your children and your homeland. And that's why, dear Ukrainian brothers and sisters, I'd like to end with one message for you. For you, the people of Ukraine. You are not alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you for as long as it takes, because we will never accept a world ruled by brute violence. Ukraine, I am confident, will rebuild. Ukraine needs the European Union. But our union also needs Ukraine. And Ukraine will emerge stronger, freer and more prosperous than ever before. Love from Brussels. Love from the EU. Slava Ukraini!

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Barend Leyts

Spokesperson for the European Council President

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+32 486 22 68 65


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