“There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Ukrainian parliament during a live video address on 1 July.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also took part in the plenary session of the Ukrainian parliament.
Von der Leyen praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people in defending their country against Russian aggression: “Your brave soldiers on the frontline are making ultimate sacrifices to defend the soil of Ukraine and its people. And behind the lines, there are countless other Ukrainians working to support this national endeavour.” She also praised the authorities who have kept the state and democracy “up and running against all odds”.
Regarding Ukraine’s candidate status, von der Leyen noted the next steps require “hard work, determination and above all unity of purpose.”
She also announced that next Monday, together with President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Shmyhal, she will participate in the Lugano conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine. “Massive investments will have to come. But to maximise their impact and to foster business confidence, investments will have to be coupled with a new wave of reforms,” added von der Leyen, urging Ukraine to take the fight against corruption.
However, she said that “for instance, no one expects Ukraine to fill in all the posts in your new [anti-corruption] institutions while so many of your best and brightest are fighting on the front”. “But Ukraine’s democracy must be kept on the right track. You have already shown that you can pass important laws even as the war still rages on, and make every day count,” said von der Leyen.
“You are the ones who can change this country for good. And this will be your ultimate victory. A free, prosperous and vibrant Ukraine. A sovereign Ukraine that is finally reunited with our European family. Slava Ukraini,” concluded von der Leyen.
During the President’s address the EU flag was brought into the plenary hall of Verkhovna Rada. “Brought here to stay,” commented the European Commission in Telegram.
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