Spanish EU presidency: Sánchez visits Kyiv to reiterate support for Ukraine

Spanish EU presidency: Sánchez visits Kyiv to reiterate support for Ukraine


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez started six-month presidency of the European Union with a visit to Kyiv – the third since the Russian invasion – on the 1st July to underline the EU support of Ukraine.

Sánchez addressed Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy announced the visit on Thursday, emphasising the symbolism of the visit and the importance of the next six months for Europe.

“This speaks very clearly about the actual situation in Europe, when our common European home cannot be imagined without us, without Ukraine, and about Spain’s priorities in protecting freedom, equality, and justice for the whole of Europe. I am grateful for this visit and the support,” said Zelenskyy, speaking with media representatives following the negotiations with Sánchez in Kyiv.

Speaking Friday in Brussels, Sánchez stressed that the war in Ukraine represents one of the first priorities of the Spanish presidency, “with the focus being on guaranteeing the unity (on the issue) among all member states.”

At the meeting, the leaders discussed several issues, primarily those related to protection against Russian aggression.

“I am grateful to Spain and to you, Mr. Sánchez, Mr. President of the Government, for the assistance provided to Ukraine, in particular, security assistance to protect the lives of Ukrainians from Russian terror. Grateful for providing refuge in Spain for about 180,000 Ukrainians immediately after the start of the full-scale invasion of Russia. We highly appreciate it and will never forget it,” the President said.

Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for Spain’s support to Ukraine to joining the EU.

“We discussed the approaching start of negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. Ukraine is grateful for the interim oral update on our progress and waiting for the European Commission’s report in October this year, and by the end of the year, in December, for the European Council’s decision to start negotiations. All this is very important for us. Ukraine’s approach to joining the European Union is extremely motivating for our defenders because it convinces them that Europe sees at what cost our people protect exactly the same values already protected for every country in the European Union,” Zelenskyy said.

For his part, Sánchez expressed his belief that during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU will be made progress on issues important for the future of the European Union, and Ukraine will be at the focus of all debates.

He said that today, Ukrainians defend the most important international principles: sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

Sánchez said that Spain continues active cooperation with Ukraine in the defence sector and will soon transfer new heavy equipment, including Leopard tanks and armoured personnel carriers. The Spanish side will also hand over a field hospital with surgical equipment to strengthen the country’s ability to assist wounded soldiers and civilians near the front line. Sánchez announced that Spain would provide another EUR 55 million for reconstruction.

“Europe and Spain remain on your side,” Sánchez said.

The President of the Government of Spain said that coordination of efforts to respond to Ukraine’s defence needs continues at the EU level, and the European Peace Facility provides essential ammunition and weapons.

Concerning European integration, Sánchez said that the European Commission’s interim update on Ukraine’s EU candidate status is positive and indicates substantial progress.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine on this and encourage it to continue the path of reforms. We will wait for the written report of the European Commission in the autumn. It will become the basis for further steps and decisions,” he said.

The Prime Minister said, a lot of work is being done to create mechanisms to prosecute those guilty of war crimes committed in Ukraine. In addition, the search for ways to resolve the issue of frozen Russian assets in Europe continues, which requires certain legal solutions.

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Before addressing the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Sánchez held a working meeting with the Chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk. The two politicians discussed Ukraine’s path to the European Union and NATO.

[Credit: Press Service of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine]

The Speaker of the Parliament congratulated Spain for its presidency in the Council of the European Union.

“Ukraine has consistently demonstrated progress in implementing the recommendations of the European Commission,” said Ruslan Stefanchuk, adding that he hopes that the unity of the EU member states and the support of Spain will allow to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the EU this year.

Stefanchuk noted that the second strategic issue for Ukraine is its path to NATO.

“We are aware that Ukraine cannot become a member of the Alliance during a full-scale war. But at the Summit in Vilnius, we want to get a clear map with an understanding of the timeframe and conditions for full membership,” stressed the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada.

The Prime Minister of Spain said that cooperation between Ukraine and Spain has three dimensions: bilateral relations, the European dimension for EU member states and the Euro-Atlantic dimension. He also stressed that Ukraine had already made great strides in implementing two of the seven recommendations of the European Commission.

“The summit in Vilnius will be very important because we will talk about the implementation of the roadmap. The main thing is that what we will do will help global security,” Pedro Sanchez stressed.

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