Remarks by President Charles Michel at the press conference following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv

© European Union, 2020, Source: Council of the EU – Audiovisual resources© European Union, 2020, Source: Council of the EU – Audiovisual resources

I would like to thank you, President Zelenskyy, for your invitation and for your warm welcome here in Ukraine. I have come here with a clear message for you and for the people of Ukraine: there is no Europe without Ukraine. We share common values: democracy, rule of law, respect for international law, and human rights. The EU is Ukraine’s most reliable partner.

We also share today’s most urgent challenge – tackling COVID-19. During our discussion today, I reaffirmed the European Union’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people in the face of COVID-19. I also visited a vaccination centre that supports Ukraine’s fight against the pandemic. It is our strong commitment to stand together in these difficult times. The EU has already provided 190 million euro for Ukraine to fight COVID along with 1.2 billion euro Macro-Financial Assistance. And we are helping Ukraine gain access to COVID vaccines. The COVAX Facility, massively supported by the EU, has allocated a significant amount of vaccines to Ukraine.  I will personally engage to speed up the delivery.

Yesterday we visited the contact line and I saw with my own eyes the devastating impact of a nearly seven-year conflict on the security situation and on people´s lives. It’s a tragedy that people continue to die in this war on the European continent in 2021. I want to reaffirm the EU’s unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognised borders.

The full implementation of the Minsk agreements is essential. It is the way forward to peace and we will continue to fully support the diplomatic efforts to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continue to back the conflict resolution efforts taken by you, Mr President. We expect Russia to reciprocate Ukraine’s constructive spirit. Russia is not a mediator. It’s a party to this conflict. Any country must be free to choose its own course without foreign interference. Ukraine has freely chosen its own Euro-Atlantic course.

We remain committed to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is the most ambitious, comprehensive agreement the EU has with another country. As part of this Agreement, Ukraine has agreed to serious commitments to sweeping reforms. 

The EU is now Ukraine’s main export market. And thousands of Ukrainian companies benefit from the opportunity to export to the EU. We will continue to develop our sectoral cooperation, including through support to the digital economy and the green agenda.

Ukraine has made significant progress in reforms during these years, and we value President Zelenskyy´s personal commitment to push forward these reforms. The EU has provided unprecedented support to Ukraine and its reform process – 16 billion euro since 2014. And we will continue to support your efforts. It is essential to continue the fight against corruption, and to continue other reforms at full speed.

The EU stands with you, President Zelenskyy, in restoring the Ukrainian people´s trust in your judicial system and anti-corruption agenda. This is the expectation of the Ukrainian people, who called for change in the Maidan.

J’ai été extrêmement ému par cette occasion de me recueillir et je me suis souvenu de mon émotion, voyant à travers les médias le cynisme de ceux qui ont assassiné des citoyens qui se mobilisaient pour la liberté, pour la dignité.

La liberté et la dignité des Ukrainiens c’est cette inscription sur ce mémorial qui traduit non seulement cette émotion que je ressens aujourd’hui en étant à vos côtés pour engager ce lien fort, ce lien étroit entre l’Union européenne et l’Ukraine. Et cette émotion aussi doit être un moteur pour promouvoir ces valeurs de démocratie, ces valeurs de liberté, ces valeurs d’état de droit.

Nous allons, oui, monsieur le président continuer à travailler étroitement ensemble. Les prochains rendez-vous sont fixés, et nous voulons soutenir votre initiative de plateforme pour la Crimée, ce rendez-vous fixé au mois d’août.

Nous voulons aussi être engagés dès cette année pour le prochain sommet entre l’Ukraine et l’Union européenne. Soyez convaincu que nous voulons être pleinement, totalement à vos côtés parce que nous partageons les mêmes valeurs de liberté, de démocratie, d’état de droit et nous pensons qu’ensemble, nous sommes plus forts.