European Council President Charles Michel has marked Europe Day in Odesa – “a melting pot of European culture and history: Odesa, the city where Pushkin said that ‘you can feel Europe’.” Michel expressed the EU’s ongoing support for Ukraine – “for as long as it takes” – and addressed a message to the citizens of the European Union: “Our peace, our prosperity, the future of our children – they are also at stake here in Odessa. Here in Ukraine.”
Europe Day marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman Declaration, in 1950, that set out a vision for a new cooperation in Europe. “To ensure peace, Schuman and a handful of visionaries set about building the European Union. And since then, peace has reigned where nations had fought each other for centuries,” said Michel.
“As we speak, war rages again in Europe. War from another century, a hegemonic war where one state, Russia, has invaded a neighbouring sovereign state, Ukraine. Where your schools, hospitals and cities are bombed. Where your people are tortured, raped and executed in cold blood,” the European Council President said in Odesa.
“The Kremlin wants to ‘execute’ your spirit of freedom and democracy. But I’m totally convinced they will never succeed. I have come to Odesa on Europe Day with one simple message: You are not alone. We stand with you. We will not let you down. We will be with you for as long as it takes.”
He said the EU would help Ukraine to build a modern, democratic country – “a forward-looking country, ready to embrace with confidence your European future, our common European future, your place in our common European family.”
Michel held talks in Odesa with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, discussing the need to adopt the sixth package of sanctions and increase the pressure on Russia.
“We have decided to end the EU dependency on Russian fossil fuels. And we are very close to an agreement to ban Russian oil. We have also frozen the assets of many oligarchs. And personally, I think that we should also try to confiscate these assets in order to make the means and the money available for the rebuilding of the country,” Charles Michel told a press conference, adding: “We are convinced that, with sanctions, we need to do everything in order to break the Russian war machine.”
The Council President also visited the port of Odesa, discussing ways to unblock Ukraine’s ports and restore exports of agricultural products. “We understand that this city is playing an important role in the food security of the world. Millions of tons of food are currently blocked here in Odessa. This means potentially dramatic consequences for many countries in the world, especially for developing countries. This is the direct responsibility of this war started by Russia. We must do everything to work together to address this food security challenge, which is important for the world.”