The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk spoke during the consideration of the agenda item “Support for the reconstruction of Ukraine” at the second part of the regular session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“Ukraine is fighting heroically and is going through perhaps the most dramatic stage of the struggle for its freedom, territorial integrity and independence. For the European principles of democracy. The principles of the rule of law and human rights. For our common principles,” the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine stressed in the first place.

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine appealed to all those present “from the highest rostrum of the European idea and democracy, from the rostrum from which the voice of European citizens has been heard for 75 years, on behalf of the people and the country that has been a member of the Council of Europe for almost 30 years” to defend the candidate country for accession to the European Union, which is entering the most important and responsible stage of the path to full membership.

At the same time, Ruslan Stefanchuk noted that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was the first international institution to clearly outline its position on russian aggression, and in April 2014, it responded with concrete actions – political sanctions against the delegation of the invading state. “Since then, a significant arsenal of acts has been developed that address various aspects of this aggressive war. That is why Ukraine has special hopes for the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly as consistent and reliable partners,” he added.

“Today, as the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, I stand before you to speak about a special historical moment a moment when the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people needs your highest support. This spirit was summed up by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi when he said: “We are strong. We are ready for anything. We will defeat anyone because we are Ukraine.” And this is not just rhetoric. These words convey the resilience that keeps the heart of your wounded European sister still beating. The heart of an unconquered Ukraine,” the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine stressed.

He also stressed that numbers cannot convey the horrific picture of the suffering, destruction and devastation caused by russia: “Thousands killed, tens of thousands wounded and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. Towns and villages have been burned to the ground. A bloodless energy system that suffers a more painful blow every day. And how to calculate the emotional, moral and psychological consequences of aggression?”

“Millions of Ukrainians are looking at you with faith and hope through frozen tears and fierce fatigue with a single request – to protect their right to life, right to choose, right to a European future,” Ruslan Stefanchuk said, urging “not to look away” because if Ukraine falls, Europe will fall: “And then you will meet the eyes of your compatriots who, like us, will ask for help. And even worse – the eyes of the russian occupier, who will no longer ask for anything. He will look down on you with the cold gaze of a cynical and ruthless barbarian.”

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine expressed gratitude to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for remaining a reliable beacon of solidarity and support for Ukraine in these difficult and unjust times.

“The report “Support for the reconstruction of Ukraine”, which is being discussed today, is also about justice. The creation of a comprehensive compensation mechanism is also about justice. Its launch will be a way of telling the truth and a powerful manifestation of collective commitment to the rule of law and international norms,” said Ruslan Stefanchuk.

At the same time, he stressed that after the establishment of the Register of Damages and the opening of a support office in Kyiv during the recent visit to Ukraine of the Secretary General and the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the next steps should be the establishment of a Compensation Commission and the establishment of a Compensation Fund: “Together, this will make it possible to fully launch a comprehensive compensation mechanism.”

Ruslan Stefanchuk also thanked for the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine “Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction” (2023-2026), which is supported by the Council of Europe Development Bank.

“russia has committed a crime of aggression, russia has caused enormous damage, and it is russia that must be held accountable. A solution must be found to direct russian assets to compensate for the damage it has caused. And it is putin who must pay the cheque in full for the war he has unleashed,” said the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, expressing his belief that the Council of Europe will be able to fulfil another historic mission by supporting the establishment of a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine, which will make it possible to bring russia's top political and military leadership to justice and fair punishment.

“We need to act immediately. The time of “deep concern and strong condemnation” has passed. The time for deliberation and doubt about whether or not to provide Ukraine with weapons is over. The time for loophole sanctions has long since passed, because it is impossible to win a war that you yourself finance. But the time has come for frank and truthful assessments. It is time for quick decisions and actions. It is time for responsible leadership. It's time to choose a resolute united resistance to russian terror,” Ruslan Stefanchuk stressed.

At the same time, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine emphasised that peacekeeping games, lack of weapons, imperfect sanctions, delays in confiscating russian assets, and the absence of accountability and punishment mechanisms make the inhuman stronger.

During his speech, he stressed that he was aware that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly had no mandate to address military or economic issues: “But I really want you to hear me. Because in this room I am speaking to politicians representing the parliaments of 46 countries on the European continent. I am appealing to you as the leaders of the interests of all European citizens. I appeal to you to direct all your efforts to support our common struggle.”

“An air defence system costs far less than the damage caused by a missile, which wasn’t stopped. Each electronic warfare system increases the ability to neutralise enemy drones, which means saving human lives,” said the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, stressing that this is a terrible and cynical mathematics of war, but it is also an objective reality that we saw in Israel a few days ago: “Armed with state-of-the-art weapons and together with its allies, it effectively repelled a massive five-hour attack by three hundred Iranian missiles and drones. We have witnessed allied will and strength against the axis of evil. The will and strength that can and must protect Ukraine. Because a united democracy must be united and indiscriminate in protecting those who share its values.”

Ruslan Stefanchuk stressed that Ukraine wants peace, but not peace at any cost, but peace that is just and sustainable, which is intended to be brought about by the implementation of the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi. The Chairman of the Parliament of Ukraine expressed his belief that the Council of Europe should be a part of the process that will return peace and tranquillity to the continent.

“We Ukrainians are often told that they will support us as long as necessary. And I tell you: we still need it. We really need it. We need it today,” the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine emphasised, adding that Ukraine must be given a chance for life – for justice to be restored, a chance to build a happy and secure Ukraine as part of Europe, where democracy prevails and respect for human rights prevails.

In conclusion, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine called on the Assembly to add to the list of decisions already taken and to vote on the recommendations contained in the report  “Support for the reconstruction of Ukraine” with the seriousness and urgency they require.

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