Fiala in Kyiv: Ukraine needs a clear path to joining EU and NATO

Czech Prime Minister Fiala and a delegation of ministers held talks with Ukraine's president and government, despite Russian shelling.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.11.2022 11:06:00 (updated on 01.11.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

A Czech delegation of ministers led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala held talks with the Ukrainian government and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv yesterday, as reported by ČTK. The trip’s goal was to show support for Ukraine as it fights against Russian invaders and also to support Ukraine’s ambitions to join the EU and NATO.

After the meeting with Zelenskiy, Fiala said that Ukraine needs a clear prospect for joining the EU and NATO, and can count on Czech support. Fiala said Ukraine has made progress toward meeting the conditions for continuing talks on the country's EU accession. Czechia also supports the fastest possible release of the EUR 3 billion promised to Ukraine from EU sources.

Fiala said he will strive to see progress in Ukraine’s EU accession bid during the current Czech presidency of the EU, which runs until the end of the year. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the Ukrainian parliament is preparing to adopt hundreds of laws needed for further progress toward EU accession by the end of the year.

The two leaders discussed the creation of a special court for crimes committed by Russia after the February attack on Ukraine, and about cooperation in repairing military equipment and defending against drones. They also discussed the coordination of sanctions against Russia.

"We do understand the importance of this fight and are prepared to do our utmost to enable people to live as normal life as possible in Ukraine even in these hard conditions,” Fiala said.

Zelenskiy presented Fiala with the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, First Class, a high state award. He praised Fiala's extraordinary contribution to the development of Ukrainian-Czech relations and cooperation, as well as his support for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity.

In the past, the order went to former Czech President Václav Havel in 2006 and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in 2021.

“I feel surprised and really moved. I immensely esteem this honor, I view it as an appreciation of the Czech people, the Czech Republic, of the huge support that Ukraine enjoys in our country,” Fiala said.

Fiala started one-on-one talks with his counterpart Shmyhal before noon and they were later joined by other ministers. The main topics were a clear expression of support for Ukraine, and the continuation of military and humanitarian aid.

The post-war reconstruction of Ukraine was also discussed. Fiala also appreciated Ukraine’s interest in the participation of Czech firms and the intention to support Czech businesses’ entry into its market. "This is no unilateral aid, but deep cooperation," Fiala said. According to the Czech Chamber of Commerce, over 100 companies have expressed their willingness to participate.

The governments agreed that the confiscated Russian property should be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Fiala was accompanied by Deputy Prime Ministers Vít Rakušan, Marian Jurečka, and Vlastimil Válek, Defense Minister Jana Černochová, Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský, Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura, and Transport Minister Martin Kupka. After a joint meeting of the Czech and Ukrainian governments in the afternoon, the ministers met separately with their counterparts, as reported in the government's website.

One result of the talks is the signing of memoranda on deepening economic and political cooperation between the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Fiala also invited the Ukrainian cabinet to Prague next year.

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After the meeting, Šmyhal said that the Czech visit in one of the most complicated periods of Ukrainian history is a sign of enormous solidarity and support.

“Despite such a top visit from the state that is presiding over the EU now, the Russian aggressor continued in its strategy of destruction and liquidation of civilian targets,” Shmyhal said.

Fiala described the continuation of military and humanitarian support to Ukraine as natural and automatic. It is in the interest of the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Europe, and the whole world that Ukraine would have enough equipment in its heroic fight and could defend itself efficiently, Fiala said.

Fiala stated that the goal is to restore the country's territorial integrity. Currently, the Czech government has released CZK 20 million for the purchase of diesel generators, which are supposed to help with the replacement of electricity supply failures in the Dnepropetrovsk and Lviv regions after the Russian attacks.

The arrival of the Czech delegation was delayed by about an hour by an airstrike in Kyiv. According to the Ukrainian authorities, in the morning the Russian rockets were again aimed at the civil infrastructure of the city. According to witnesses, smoke could be seen from about 10 explosion sites, and a large part of the city was left without power or water supplies.

Fiala previously visited Kyiv in March, when he arrived with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša. This was Foreign Minister Lipavský’s third trip to Kyiv this year.

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