On 8th April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen together with the EU High Representative Josep Borrell travelled to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In a joint press conference, von der Leyen handed over an envelope containing a questionary on EU accession to the Ukrainian President.
Excerpts from von der Leyen’s remarks:
“(…) It was important to start my visit in Bucha today. Because in Bucha our humanity was shattered. And it is right and just that the world voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. This war is a challenge for the entire international community. And this is a decisive moment. Will heinous devastation win or humanity prevail? Will the right of might dominate or is it the rule of law? Will there be constant conflict and struggle or a future of common prosperity?
Your fight is our fight. I am here with you in Kyiv today to tell you that Europe is on your side. This is the message, dear Volodymyr, I want to bring to the Ukrainian people today.
We just discussed how to step it up Europe’s support. Let me be clear: We can never match the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people. But we are mobilising our economic power to make Putin pay a heavy price. We have imposed five waves of unprecedented sanctions against Russia. And we are already preparing the next wave. We are now moving into a system of rolling sanctions. And these sanctions are biting hard. (…)
We stand with you as you defend your country. This is my second point. Ukrainian people are holding up the torch of freedom for all of us. The European Union is sending weapons to your country. We have allocated €1 billion from the European Peace Facility to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And more will come. I am grateful the High Representative will now propose another €500 million. In addition, EU Member States are delivering military equipment on an unprecedented scale. (…)
Third, we are strengthening our financial help for Ukraine. Today, we are delivering on €1 billion of support. This sum consists of three different financial packages. As we speak, we are transferring €120 million in budget support. We will make available the €330 million from our emergency package now. Both are grants. And we are accelerating the second half of the macro-financial assistance package with €600 million.
Fourth, we are with Ukrainians as they seek refuge within our borders. And I promise you: we will take good care of them until it is safe to return home. Home to a free and prosperous Ukraine. We make sure, that they have access to housing, schools, medical care and work. The brave people of Ukraine deserve nothing less. (…)
Finally, we are with you as you dream of Europe. Dear Volodymyr, my message today is clear: Ukraine belongs in the European family. We have heard your request, loud and clear. And today, we are here to give you a first, positive answer. In this envelope, dear Volodymyr, there is an important step towards EU membership. This questionnaire is the basis for our discussion in the coming months. This is where your path towards the European Union begins. (…)
On the first day of your mandate, dear Volodymyr, you said: ‘We have chosen Europe as our direction. But Europe, you said, ‘Europe is not somewhere else. Europe is here in our mind. And when Europe is in our mind, then Europe will come to our country too.’
Today, more than ever, Europe is here. Europe is with you. Slava Ukraini.”