Dear Mr Speaker! Dear members of the Verkhovna Rada, dear friends! I am very grateful to be here today on this special day for my country. Today, on 1 July, Spain takes on a great responsibility and assumes the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six months.
And the first thing I would like to do in this new capacity is to address the people of Ukraine through the Verkhovna Rada. I would like to tell you that we are here and we will be with you for as long as it takes!
I would like to say that we will support Ukraine, no matter what the price, that we will be with you in achieving your aspirations to be a free and sovereign country that decides its own destiny as a member of the European family. So, I am here to express the firm and decisive position of Spain and Europe against the illegal, unjustified and unwarranted russian aggression in Ukraine. This is the second time I have the honour to address you in this temple of Ukrainian democracy. My first address was in February, on the first anniversary of russia’s aggression against your sovereignty and territorial integrity. Much has changed since then.
Today, Ukraine is engaged in a counter-offensive against an enemy that is showing signs of weakness. We all saw the events of the past week and they speak for themselves. If one side shows weakness, it is because it is opposed by the other side, which demonstrates the opposite – its determination. And this is what I see here and now. I see determination, strength and courage!
I see a country that refuses to be subdued, that fights for its independence with great dignity. I know that the price we have to pay is enormous, especially in terms of lost human lives. And nothing I can say here will comfort a family that has lost a daughter, son, mother, father or husband. Men and women who gave their lives defending a free and democratic Ukraine. But I want to do this from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Spain, a country that mourns with you, a country that condemns every russian attack against Ukrainian civilians, such as the one in Kramatorsk.
Viktoriia Amelina is a Ukrainian writer who was also seriously wounded there. She is now fighting for her life. Viktoriia was close to the front line, she wanted to document the tragedy, she wanted to collect the memory of dishonour and meanness, of lost heritage, broken lives, and crimes committed. We need women like Viktoriia Amelina to write history, to tell the facts as they are, and to preserve the memory of those who suffered from this tragedy.
Excellencies! Friends! We do not forget that the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people were one of the triggers that provoked the russian response. As a consequence of the invasion, it would be fair to honour this aspiration by granting you candidate status for accession to the European Union. After all, no one deserves this more than Ukraine.
However, I know that this is not an easy process, especially in the context of an ongoing war, because to become a member state, changes are needed, reforms are needed. Not so long ago, Spain faced this challenge as a candidate country. But let me say that the process of becoming an EU member has taught us important lessons. One of them is that reforms are already valuable in themselves, because reforms make your governance and economy better, more modern and transparent. They build international trust and proximity, they attract investment, and they will eventually give you access to our European Union. A Union that is more than just the largest single market in the world. First and foremost, it is a community of values, human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Last week, the European Commission praised Ukraine’s progress in implementing the necessary reforms. I would like to congratulate you on the progress you have made, especially thanks to the legislative work of this Verkhovna Rada. I urge you not to stop there. It is worth the effort. Congratulations! And, of course, we look forward to the European Commission’s report in the autumn, which will lay the groundwork for the future.
Friends, we want a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. Only Ukraine can determine the conditions and time for peace talks. Other countries and regions are offering their peace plans. We highly appreciate their participation, but at the same time we cannot accept them in full. This is an aggressive war, an aggression in which there is clearly an aggressor and a victim. They cannot be treated equally. Ignoring the rules should not be rewarded in any way. That is why we support the President Zelenskyi’s peace formula, which is in line with international law and the UN Charter. Ukraine is paying a high price in the form of destroyed cities and infrastructure. So, we must make sure that the country is rebuilt, thereby creating the conditions for its growth and prosperity. And we have already started to do so.
Today, Spain has decided to allocate an additional €55 million. This includes €51 million through the World Bank Group to finance small and medium-sized enterprises in Ukraine, and €4 million through the United Nations Development Programme to provide schools in Ukraine with clean and sustainable energy systems.
Recovery and reconstruction will take time and investment in many sectors. Spain is committed to accompanying Ukraine in this process. There are some areas, such as railway infrastructure, where our companies have specific know-how that can make a difference.
The Spanish Government is supporting the financing of the necessary investments to adapt and modernise Ukraine’s infrastructure and productive sectors. We understand that recovery and prosperity will only come if true and lasting security is achieved.
Friends, I believe that we can no longer rely on the promises made after the Cold War. We must adapt to a different security environment in which concepts such as peace, sovereignty or territorial integrity can no longer be taken for granted. After all, the aggression against Ukraine has shown us that they need to be defended, not only with words, but also with facts.
That is why we need to rethink the security framework to ensure that Ukraine can live without aggression and without intimidation. As the President has said, we are approaching the NATO Summit in Vilnius, which will be a continuation of the commitments we made last year in Madrid. Spain supports the strengthening of Ukraine's political participation through the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council, where Ukraine will no longer be an invitee but a member, a full member.
We also advocate for enhanced practical cooperation and continued adaptation of your defence sector to NATO standards. These are great steps forward that will be further discussed during the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius. Spain will also continue to contribute. We are providing additional Leopard tanks, armoured personnel carriers and a field hospital with surgical capabilities.
We also continue to work with other countries and continents, explaining to them what is really happening in Ukraine, listening to their concerns, especially those related to food and energy security or insecurity in this case.
Your Excellencies. In February, before I travelled to Kyiv, someone in Madrid inquired about the situation of the Ukrainians and asked me: “Do you think they are afraid, are they scared?”. When I returned from my visit, I had a clear answer to this question. I said: “They are not afraid. They will win. Maybe in weeks, maybe in months, through tears, blood and sweat, but Ukraine will win this war!”
Then they asked me: “Pedro, why?”. And I answered: “Because there are two battles: one takes place on the battlefield, the other in people’s minds. Because it is a confrontation of ideas, and the Ukrainian people have already won this battle.”
Ukraine has chosen democracy, despite those who despise it. Ukraine chose openness and freedom in the face of those who fear it. Ukraine chose to discuss and vote, to change and develop in spite of those who believe only in force and obedience.
Ukraine has chosen to be independent, to move freely, to trade, to invest, to prosper, to have hope, in spite of those who still have illusory dreams of old empires. The Ukrainian people have chosen the European path. The Ukrainian people are Europeans! You are Europeans not only because of the geographical principle, you are Europeans because of your moral and spiritual commitments.
So, dear friends! Over the years I have learnt a lot about Ukraine, even some Ukrainian words. For example, I learnt that “mriia” – the English word for dream and the Spanish word for sueno – was the name of the largest aircraft in the world that was at the Gostomel airfield when it was destroyed by russian forces in February 2022. This plane brought medicines during the epidemic and humanitarian aid during natural disasters. It was a symbol and pride of Ukraine. They destroyed the symbol, but they could not destroy the idea. I recently learned that Ukrainian engineers are already working to restore this celestial giant. So let me tell you that you are not just restoring an aircraft, you are restoring a dream! And one day, this dream will rise again into the sky, and from there we will see a new Ukraine, reborn from the ashes of ruins. This is what you are fighting for!
You are fighting for the peace, security and prosperity of your children. And every Ukrainian soldier knows this. russian soldiers fight because they fear punishment if they do not fight. Every day they ask themselves: what are we doing here? You are united, you have the truth behind you. They even rebel, these russians, as we saw a few days ago. That is why they cannot win and you cannot lose.
I came here today to say that Europe is open to those who make a choice. The European Union was created to prevent new wars. We chose to come together, to be united in diversity, and that has made us stronger.
Europe is with you and you are one with Europe. We are Europe. Glory to Ukraine!