The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, addressed the Ukrainian Parliament this Saturday, July 1. His speech is given in the framework of the beginning of the Spanish presidency in the Council of the European Union. In kyiv, Sanchez also met with the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenski, and announced more economic and military aid.
Amid applause and ovations, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, entered the Ukrainian Parliament. There, the president carried out his first act since Spain assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
This is a symbolic moment, which seeks to send a message about Sanchez’s priorities in his new role: to continue supporting Ukraine. An objective that he expressed in front of the legislators when affirming that the European Union will support the country “as long as it takes” and “regardless of the price to pay.”
“Today, July 1, Spain assumes the great responsibility of assuming the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months,” said Sanchez.
In his speech, delivered in English, the president announced a new aid package for Ukraine of 55 million euros. Sanchez explained that 51 million will be financed through the World Bank group to support small and medium-sized Ukrainian companies, while the other four million will be given through the UN development program to supply green energy systems to schools.
a new scenario
The President of the Spanish Government referred to the current situation of the war in Ukraine. “Things have changed,” said Sanchez. The president was talking about the Ukrainian counteroffensive that is underway and the rebellion of the Wagner group, which targeted the high levels of the Russian military leadership.
“We have all seen the events of the past week. They speak for themselves,” he said.
Therefore, he pointed out that the scenario is different with respect to his first speech in the Ukrainian Parliament in February and assured that Russia is showing “signs of weakness”.
Sanchez was optimistic. In her address, he predicted that Ukraine’s determination will lead it to emerge victorious from the conflict.
Ukraine is going to win the war because it has already won the battle of ideas by choosing Europe.
The EU rose to avoid wars. We decided to unite in our diversity, and that made us stronger.
Europe is with you. pic.twitter.com/6r370BcjlU
— Pedro Sanchez (@sanchezcastejon) July 1, 2023
However, he deplored the attacks on the civilian population, such as the one that touched a restaurant in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine. An event that left the writer Victoria Amelina seriously injured and in which three Colombians were found, the special envoy of France 24 Catalina Gomez Angel, the Colombian writer Hector Abad and the former Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo.
“Victoria was near the front because she wanted to document the tragedy. She wanted to collect the memory of the infamy. The lost legacy. The broken lives. The crimes committed,” he said.
EU membership in Ukraine’s sights
On the other hand, Sanchez referred to Ukraine’s candidacy to become part of the European Union. Although he assured that no one “deserves” it more than that country, he recalled that the process “is not easy.”
“Becoming a member state requires changes, reforms and sacrifices. Not long ago Spain faced this challenge as a candidate country,” he said. Some transformations that range from improving the economy and the fight against corruption to strengthening international confidence in the country.
Once again, the President of the Spanish Government was confident. “In time, they will grant you access to our Union,” he remarked.
Shortly before his speech, Sanchez had expressed European solidarity with Ukraine. In his Twitter account, he had indicated the reasons for his displacement to the Ukrainian capital: “I wanted the first act of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union to be in Ukraine.”
Already in Kyiv.
I wanted the first act of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU to be in Ukraine together with @ZelenskyyUa.
I will transfer to your Government and Parliament all the European solidarity.
We will maintain our support for the Ukrainian people until peace returns to Europe. pic.twitter.com/bPcvnYxNZZ
— Pedro Sanchez (@sanchezcastejon) July 1, 2023
Ukraine’s possible accession to the European Union has a long way to go. A year ago, the country received candidate status, but the formal negotiations to stipulate which are the points that it must consolidate in order to aspire to enter the bloc are still in limbo.
On multiple occasions, the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenski, has referred to said accession as one of his top priorities. One that goes hand in hand with the possibility of being part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Indeed, this week Zelensky declared that the time had come for the transatlantic union to define the status of the Ukrainian bid.
Sanchez’s visit comes a few weeks before a key NATO summit takes place in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, later this month. It is expected that this will be essential to chart future relations between Ukraine and the Western military bloc.
Sanchez announces new shipment of tanks
After his speech, Sanchez met with Zelenski. The leaders held a joint press conference in which the Spanish political leader announced a new shipment of tanks to Ukraine.
“We will send new heavy military equipment very soon, they will be four more Leopard tanks and armored personnel carriers,” Sanchez said.
In February, Spain had already announced that it would give another six Leopard tanks to the Ukrainian Army.
In addition, Sanchez referred to another type of assistance: a portable field hospital to treat wounded soldiers and civilians. In parallel, he promised to train more Ukrainian professionals in the use of prostheses.
Spain in the lead of the presidency rotating Council of the European Union
Every six months, the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union changes hands. Now, it is Spain’s turn, and Sanchez has already outlined some of his goals.
In Brussels, the president of the Spanish Executive ruled on Friday that the “The war in Ukraine will be one of the top priorities” and that it will seek “a position to guarantee unity (on the issue) among all member states.”
However, Ukraine is not the only item on the agenda. Sanchez has set his sights on migration, the ecological transition, European unity and also the bloc’s relationship with Latin America.
🇪🇺🇪🇸 The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU focuses on four priorities:
– Promote the reindustrialization of Europe
– Advancing towards the ecological transition
– Consolidate the social pillar
– Strengthen European unity
— Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU (@eu2023es) July 1, 2023
In this sense, Sanchez proposed to advance in terms of the asylum policy of the group of 27. At the beginning of this June, the European Union advanced in an agreement to share the responsibility of immigrants who enter Europe without authorization. Poland and Hungary voted against.
In addition, the Spanish leader said that he will focus on rebuilding supply chains within the bloc to avoid shortages and guarantee energy sovereignty.
On the other hand, he will lead the summit between the European Union and Latin America. Scheduled for July 17 and 18 in Brussels, it is the first of its kind in eight years.
With Reuters, EFE, AP and AFP
Source: France 24