I would like to thank Magdalena (Andersson) and Mateusz (Morawiecki) for organizing this event.
Here in Poland, you have set up a massive solidarity operation welcoming over 3 million Ukrainian refugees and acting as a hub to support Ukrainians in Ukraine.
And Sweden, dear Magdalena, Sweden has always done more than its share to support refugees and to be a faithful friend of Ukraine.
I would like to thank you personally, as well as your fellow citizens.
A few weeks ago, we discussed with President Zelensky the idea of a solidarity trust fund to support Ukraine. At our last European Council in March, we decided to create this Solidarity Fund. This is a concrete expression of our commitment to Ukraine with the help and support of external donors.
Our solidarity efforts will focus on three key areas: humanitarian aid, short-term liquidity needs and reconstruction.
We must act now to help alleviate the immediate suffering of the Ukrainian people, both inside and outside Ukraine.
This is why the number one priority is to raise funds for this humanitarian action.
There is another pressing need: liquidity. Ukraine needs significant funding to run the state. About 5 billion euros per month, according to the IMF.
We mobilized and disbursed macro-financial assistance with our friends and partners.
But we must not be complacent. We need to do a lot more to provide practical support now. Immediately. To ensure that nurses, doctors and teachers can be paid on time and that Ukraine can continue to function.
And finally, I would like to send a personal message of hope and encouragement to all Ukrainians, to the soldiers in the field, to all Ukrainians who support the war effort and to the millions of people who have fled the war and yearn to find their home. We will help you rebuild your country and your economy. Your homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. The future of a secure and prosperous Ukraine. Combine funding for reconstruction with necessary reforms. This is not just a theoretical long-term vision. Reconstruction begins today.
The cornerstone of our Solidarity Trust Fund is precisely the word “trust”. We trust Ukraine. And our efforts here today reflect that trust. Together we will rebuild a modern, prosperous and democratic Ukraine, a country full of confidence and ready to embrace its European future and its place in our common European family.
We must also ensure that we get the most out of every euro. The EU is best placed to support your efforts to link reconstruction to the reforms that will transform Ukraine. And we support Ukraine in its choice of the European path.
The people of Ukraine, talented, capable and hardworking, you know best what your citizens need in your cities and regions. And we will be at your side to offer you practical, concrete and operational expertise and all our support.
That is why we fully endorse President Zelenskyy’s ambitious vision for a modern and forward-looking Ukraine that engages grassroots leaders and citizens. Its concept of partnership between EU cities and regions and Ukrainian cities and regions is an excellent idea. Because it will bring life back to areas traumatized by war.
As we approach Europe Day on 9 May, a day commemorating peace and unity after the horrors of the Second World War, we also remember the Marshall Plan which helped revive Europe and rebuild economies after the ravages of war. .
Today we see again the ravages of war on European soil, in Ukraine. I firmly believe that this Solidarity Trust Fund can and should be the starting point for a European ‘Marshall Plan’ for this century. An engine of solidarity for the renewal and reconstruction of Ukraine for the prosperity of Europe and for the transatlantic Alliance.
Let me end on a more personal note. During my last visit to Ukraine, in Borodyanka, I visited a small park with a statue of the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.
Russian soldiers put bullets in the head of this statue. They tried to “execute” the Ukrainian poet. Just as they are trying to “execute” Ukraine. But they did not succeed and they will not succeed. The statue is still there, proudly erected. A defiant symbol. Just as Ukraine continues to stand proud. Of challenge. Indestructible. Unbreakable. And we, the European Union, together with our friends, are with you. You’re not alone. Thank you.