Mr President, Members of Parliament and friends! Let me start with a personal experience about my last visit to Ukraine. I was working, I was in Bucha, and I was met with silence in this city. The devastation left behind by the russian aggression was horrific: destroyed buildings, empty streets, and the people who remained, who suffered. But in the midst of all that devastation and despair, I saw something truly incredible – the invincible spirit of the Ukrainian people. Despite the horrors they have endured, they refused to be broken, instead coming together to rebuild their shattered lives brick by brick, stone by stone. I met young families, families who have lost everything in this conflict: their homes, their families, their sense of security. Yet, despite what they have been through, they have remained strong and have left hope for their future, their resilience and their human endurance is incredible. Belgium stands with all those affected by injustice and aggression. Together we will rebuild and ensure that justice prevails.

Friends, let's stay united, let's continue to support in solidarity the women and children who call Ukraine home, and let's continue to show our support and courage. I am confident that we can overcome these dark times to bring Ukraine back to peaceful times. And I assure you that Belgium stands with you not only in words but also in deeds. We have raised significant resources for military and humanitarian aid, for reconstruction.

Today, Ukraine stands on the border of democracy, on the edge of truth and falsehood. And we stand with the Ukrainians who are at the forefront of this border and this struggle. I am very grateful to the Ukrainian people for this.

So, if you need ammunition today, if you need fighter planes, it means that we have to do more, we have to work better, because today we can achieve victory. And victory is needed not only for Ukrainians, but for democracies and for all people who are fighting for democracy around the world.

So, let me say this: Glory to Ukraine!

Dear friends, these days are the days when Ukraine remembers. Ten years ago, almost on this day, when the Revolution of Dignity was underway, which ended with your decisive choice to join the European Union, what a brave day it was for Ukraine, it was full of pride, it was full of hope. Unfortunately, you challenged all of this and cast a shadow over this day, a shadow of regret for the sacrifices made on that day. And now it is again a moment of remembrance for Ukraine.

Ten years ago, vladimir putin watched the Revolution of Dignity unfold in Ukraine with horror. And the very idea of having a neighbour where democracy, the rule of law, and human rights would be the basis of existence on this land frightened the kremlin leader. And so he gave the orders, and russian troops occupied Crimea, they invaded Donbas, they started a military struggle. And many Ukrainians were killed, thousands and thousands of Ukrainians in Crimea and Donbas now have to live under the boot of russia.

And these days we remember this fact. Two years ago, putin and his kremlin supporters began to demonstrate that they had nothing to do with what was happening in Ukraine. Then they said that they were just conducting military exercises, then they pretended that they were reliable members of the UN Security Council, that they were guarantors of international peace and peaceful coexistence, and on 24 February putin showed his face, he destroyed all agreements, all traditions, he destroyed peace two years ago to the sound of russian missiles and russian tanks invading Ukraine. Nevertheless, you, Ukraine and the Ukrainian President, stood up with resistance and you are still standing in the way of these invaders.

Dear friends, this morning I was at the airport and met with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, with Ursula von der Leyen, with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and with Mrs Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister, and we recalled the battle in Hostomel, where Ukrainian troops simply destroyed the russians who were trying to make a strong foothold there and prevented the russians from occupying Ukraine. Ukraine learned how to strike back, and after a few weeks, russian tanks were forced to withdraw from the territory of Ukraine. Thousands and thousands of Ukrainians have been killed in this russian-Ukrainian war, and millions have been displaced and sheltered in hospitals, in hospitals and in schools. Many hospitals and schools, however, have been destroyed, fields have been contaminated with shell fragments and poisoned. Nevertheless, we look at you today and look boldly to the future.

I am speaking not only as Prime Minister of Belgium, but also as President of the Council of Europe on behalf of Belgium at this time. The decision of the European Council to start negotiations on Ukraine's membership is a welcome one. This means that we are looking very seriously at Ukraine's future in a united Europe. And first of all, Ukraine has demonstrated how seriously it looks at its future as part of Europe. And you are ready to make the necessary enormous efforts and to go through the reform process in your country in these extremely important circumstances. And we respect you for the tremendous work that you and your Parliament are doing in this country during the war on the path of reform.

As you know, the European Union has also created a Special Fund for Ukraine and is preparing to provide military assistance related to the rehabilitation of our military sector. We believe that it will be developed, and the European Commission is also developing an industrial strategy for defence, for the common defence of Europe. And this means that we will move along this path together. And I want to add a little bit more about Belgium's work in Ukraine. We have provided 1.7 billion euros for the purchase of military equipment, for humanitarian aid and for assistance in the reconstruction of Ukraine. Let me assure you that on behalf of our Ministry of Cooperation, we look forward to a long-term cooperation and assistance to Ukraine. Belgium was once one of the first countries to send lethal weapons to help Ukraine. Today, we help train Ukrainian military personnel in very rare military specialities such as military drones and so on. And we are ready to continue such military assistance.

Thank you very much.

While we are providing military assistance, we are also standing by your side in The Hague to bring russia to justice for all the crimes they have committed on Ukrainian soil. And, Mr Speaker, as you rightly said, Mr President, as you said, we are here at the forefront of those efforts to fight back against russia, because this country, russia, must pay for what it has done. And this country must pay for all the destruction it has caused today.

Dear friends, as I said, today Ukraine is really on the border, on the border between democracy and dictatorship. Today Ukraine is on the border between the rule of law and the right to kill. Today, Ukraine is on the frontline between human rights and systemic torture. And it is you, our Ukrainian friends, who are defending that frontier, you are defending that frontier for all of us, and you deserve our support, you deserve the support of each and every one of us.

Today, your soldiers are forced to retreat, not because they lack courage, but because they lack ammunition. Today, unfortunately, your pilots do not dominate the Ukrainian skies, not because they lack pilot skills, but because they do not have enough combat aircraft.

And if we were supplying you with what you need, it would be different. And we have to admit to ourselves that we have to do more. And the only goal is to win. Together to victory! Together to victory!

Dear friends, I would like to conclude in this way: we must support human rights, to prevent torture and to ensure that democracy prevails.

Glory to Ukraine! And thank you to all of you.

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