Ukraine appreciates comprehensive assistance from EU - Zelensky

Ukraine appreciates comprehensive assistance from EU - Zelensky

The EU's unwavering support for efforts to ensure a peaceful settlement in Donbas and put the issue of the return of Crimea on the international agenda is important to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

He said this after talks with European Council President Charles Michel in Kyiv on Wednesday, according to the press service of the head of state.

In a joint statement to the media, Zelensky emphasized the importance of the European Council president's visit to Donbas on March 2, as Michel was able to see firsthand the terrible consequences of Russian military aggression for Ukraine.

Zelensky thanked Michel for his personal interest in the development of relations between Ukraine and the EU.

"I am sincerely grateful to Mr. President, the European Union and its member states for helping the most vulnerable people in Donbas. I'm talking about assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, humanitarian aid, investment in vital infrastructure, community support, and mine action. It is also important for us that the European Union continues to support Ukraine's efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict," he said.

Zelensky expressed hope that a strong signal condemning Russia's hybrid aggression against Ukraine would be sent after a European Council meeting in late March.

"I do not believe in a return to business as usual in relations between the European Union and Russia without restoring the territorial integrity of our state," he said.

Zelensky also thanked for the consistent EU policy on non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and noted that Ukraine and the European Union equally assess the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea, in particular on systemic human rights violations.

At the same time, Zelensky stressed that more effective international steps were needed for the de-occupation of Crimea.

"The issue of Crimea should be put on the international agenda. I took the initiative to hold the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform, which will take place in Kyiv on August 23. Its goal is to create an effective mechanism for the de-occupation of our territories and the protection of human rights on the temporarily occupied peninsula," he said.

He added that he counted on Michel's personal participation in this important event.

Zelensky recalled that the EU had recently approved a new global sanctions regime for human rights violations. He said he had proposed that such sanctions be imposed on those who commit arbitrariness in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

"This could be a powerful contribution by Brussels to the activities of the Crimean Platform," he said.

Zelensky also noted that another challenge that requires solidarity and joint efforts of Ukraine and the EU was the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have agreed with Mr. President on our further steps, in particular regarding the creation of an effective mechanism for the transfer of the vaccine from the EU to partner countries," he said.

During the meeting, Zelensky and Michel also discussed the further implementation of reforms in Ukraine.

"Ukraine greatly appreciates the comprehensive assistance of the European Union. We have already achieved significant success and have ambitious goals for the near future. Together with Mr. President Michel, we discussed an extremely intensive and rich agenda of relations between Ukraine and the EU," Zelensky said.

Zelensky stressed that Ukraine remains fully committed to the effective implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU, but also seeks to use its flexibility to better join the EU internal market.

"Today we coordinated our positions on the progress in the implementation of our agreements, which we reached during last year's EU-Ukraine Summit. These include the revision of the Association Agreement, integration into the EU common market, the Common Aviation Area Agreement, macro-financial assistance, and the move towards the important 'industrial visa-free regime' [the signing of an Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products]. I am confident that thanks to our regular dialogue with the leadership of the EU institutions and the fruitful work of our experts, despite all the challenges, we will be able to implement what is planned for this year's 23rd summit to be held in Kyiv," Zelensky said.

The head of state also thanked Michel for the frank and fruitful conversation.

For his part, Michel noted that the European Union supports Ukraine in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, the EU has allocated 190 million euros to Ukraine to overcome the pandemic and 1.2 billion euros in macro-financial assistance. In addition, the European Union is helping Ukraine get a vaccine from the COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

Michel also stressed that the EU supports the implementation of the Minsk agreements and diplomatic efforts to restore Ukraine's sovereignty.

Michel thanked Zelensky for implementing the course of reforms. The EU will continue to support Ukraine on its path of reforms, including in reforming the judicial system, Michel said.


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