Dear Mr Stefanchuk! Dear representatives of the proud and heroic Ukrainian people! Dear friends!

It is a great honour for me to address the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This rostrum is designed to hear the voice of the Ukrainian people, to hear it through your voices, the voices of its representatives. So, when a representative of a free nation is invited to speak in the Parliament of another free nation, it is not just a protocol gesture, and we are deeply moved with our colleagues that it is, first of all, an expression of trust and friendship between the peoples of the world. Thank you for your warm hospitality. I thank you on behalf of the Bulgarian people, who feel close to you not only geographically and historically, but also in their hearts.

At the end of the second year and the beginning of the third year of russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine, I am here with you today to express my admiration for the boundless heroism of Ukrainians, the boundless heroism of all of you, and to declare my country's unconditional support and involvement in Ukraine's struggle.

The crime of hijacking the future must be included in the long list of crimes against humanity, because the losses from russia's military aggression against Ukraine have already had a terrible impact on several generations: thousands of dead and wounded; destroyed residential, civilian and industrial infrastructure; millions of displaced persons, irreparable environmental damage and unacceptable attempts to encroach on cultural heritage. But the most terrible thing is the loss of young lives.

“I will get my life back...”. These are words from the front that have spread around the world. These are the words of Maksym Kryvtsov, who died shortly after the first collection of his poems was published. He was only 33 years old.  His words were broadcast on Bulgarian television, and he became a symbol, his name became a symbol for us. He is a hero of self-sacrifice and tragedy for the Ukrainian people.

Today, Ukraine is paying a painfully high price for defending the values of freedom and democracy. We are well aware that an attack on Ukrainians threatens the fate of the entire democratic free world. And an attack on the fate of every Ukrainian is an attack on the fate of each of us. Therefore, we will not stop repeating: the future of the free democratic world is impossible without the freedom of the Ukrainian people.

Bulgaria does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and will support this non-recognition. Bulgaria condemns russia's unprecedented actions in the Black Sea and the militarisation of the Crimean peninsula. Ensuring security and stability in the Black Sea is essential for common Euro-Atlantic security. We categorically condemn russia's intention to hold illegitimate presidential elections in 2024 in illegally annexed Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Here, in the house of Ukrainian democracy, I want to reiterate Bulgaria's unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, including its territorial waters.  From the very beginning of this war, Bulgaria has been providing assistance to Ukraine in all spheres: military, financial and economic. And we will continue to do so.

The Bulgarian assistance, as decided by our Parliament in at least 7 resolutions, provides for the free provision of armoured vehicles, anti-aircraft missile systems, ammunition, automatic small arms to Ukraine, and the participation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria in the EU military assistance mission to Ukraine.

The decision of the Bulgarian Parliament also focuses on supporting (Ukraine) in economic, infrastructure and energy recovery, strengthening energy cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Bulgaria is one of the most ardent and active supporters of Ukraine's European integration and Euro-Atlantic perspective. The European Union's long-term commitment to Ukraine is the best guarantee of a free and secure future for your country. The EU enlargement process has a huge transformative power, it is a key element of our toolkit for ensuring peace, security and democracy. This policy is even more important in the new security context in Europe after russia's aggressive war against Ukraine. An independent and sovereign Ukraine is the key to Euro-Atlantic security.

Bulgaria is seriously discussing the critical issue of post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. We will continue to contribute to the full restoration of Ukraine's energy infrastructure as much as possible. We have identified around 100 Bulgarian companies that have extensive experience in activities such as the repair and construction of nuclear and thermal power plants, high-voltage networks and gas infrastructure. The enormous damage caused by russia's military aggression to Ukraine's transport infrastructure also attracts our increased attention. We share the view that a targeted policy to restore Ukraine's transport links in the context of the development of the pan-European transport network, in particular with international support, will have a powerful positive synergistic effect.

Bulgaria is ready to participate in the process of restoring critical transport infrastructure. We are ready to provide methodological and expert assistance in developing policies to restore the Ukrainian economy and to include the environmental digital transition in this process.

Bulgaria is also ready to provide support in the field of higher education. It is crucial to increase resources to ensure the long-term democratic sustainability of Ukraine. Bulgaria would very much like to contribute to this endeavour.

Dear Ukrainian friends! Let me congratulate the Ukrainian people and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the decision of the European Council to open negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU. Ukraine occupies a worthy place in the family of the European Union. Ukraine's accession to the European Union is a geopolitical choice that Bulgaria fully supports.

Just a few days ago, we also heard important news from the extraordinary summit in Brussels, news that sends a strong message to Ukrainians. The European Union will provide financial assistance to Ukraine in the amount of 50 billion euros, thus ensuring stable long-term and predictable funding. This is a clear signal of our unity and support for Ukraine. We are fully committed to a strong and united goal and will do everything we can to ensure that future generations will never witness such atrocities in today's free and democratic world and, I will end with this: until Ukraine gets its life back!

Glory to Ukraine!

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