Belgium’s foreign minister “regrets” circumstances of Crimea visit – MFA Ukraine

Belgium’s foreign minister “regrets” circumstances of Crimea visit – MFA Ukraine

Belgium’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Hadja Lahbib expressed regret over the circumstances of her visit to Crimea as she spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the Gymnich meeting in Prague on Wednesday.

That’s according to the press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Minister Lahbib provided the following clarification on her trip to Ukraine (Crimea):  Last year, as a journalist and documentary filmmaker, she visited the city of Sevastopol in Crimea in violation of Ukrainian legislation. As a documentary filmmaker, she had the project to show how Russia used culture as power and propaganda, and how artists could live under strong domination in a trying historical period.

Read also: Kuleba arrives in Prague for informal meeting of EU foreign ministers

“She sincerely regrets that the visit took place under such circumstances. Minister Lahbib has always defended the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the status of Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine,” the statement says.

Minister Lahbib wishes to personally assure the Ukrainian people of her support and of Belgium's willingness to contribute to the return of peace and the reconstruction of Ukraine. Minister Kuleba on his part welcomed Belgium’s sincere and faithful commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as well as the contributions it makes to that end.

The meeting of the two ministers was also the occasion for an update on Ukraine’s military, diplomatic and humanitarian situation on the ground, including the worrying situation at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant.

They discussed further efforts to help Ukraine defend its territory. In this context, minister Lahbib informed her Ukrainian colleague on the support from Belgium, including Belgian’s recent EUR 8 million of non-lethal support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Minister Lahbib also welcomed the granted candidate status to Ukraine last June. Belgium is ready to support Ukraine in advancing on the path to full membership in the EU, in particular through achieving key reforms especially in the field of rule of law.

Ministers agreed to hold their next meeting at the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly in New York to follow up on bilateral projects in Ukraine.

As reported, in July, a representative of the liberal political association Mouvement Réformateur's (MR, "Reform Movement"), former journalist Hadja Lahbib replaced Sophie Wilmes as the head of Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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