Zelenskyy in Prague: What's next for the second day of the Ukrainian president's official visit?

PM Fiala told Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting this morning that supporting Ukraine is a priority for Czechia.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 07.07.2023 10:43:00 (updated on 08.07.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

After a morning meeting with Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the President of the Senate of the Czech Parliament Miloš Vystrčil, and with the President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Markéta Pekarová Adamová before leaving Prague for Sofia.

Zelenskyy tweeted that the meeting with Vystrčil focused on the Global Summit on the implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula and on Ukraine's accession to NATO and the EU. He added that the Second Parliamentary Summit of the Crimea Platform, which Prague will host in October, will be a step towards "de-occupying the Crimean peninsula and all temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine." The meeting with Pekarová Adamová focused on the need to pressure Russia with international and EU sanctions.

Fiala welcomed Zelenskyy at the garden of the Government Office earlier today, marking the start of the second day of the president's visit to the Czech Republic. "When I left Kyiv in March 2022, I told Mr. President that I would like to welcome him to our Czech Republic as soon as possible. I'm glad this came true today," Fiala tweeted.

Supporting Ukraine is a foreign policy priority for the Czech government, Fiala said after today's meeting. Fiala said that assistance would continue intensively in all areas. The Czech Republic will donate more attack helicopters, large-caliber ammunition, help train pilots, and donate simulators to Ukraine, which will enable training directly in Ukraine.

Fiala hopes that Zelenskiy will be able to attend the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius in person. "I expect all NATO allies to clearly support Ukraine in its membership efforts. The Czech Republic's voice can be counted on," Fiala said. He also appreciated the progress Ukraine is making on its way to the European Union, and the Czech Republic is ready to assist it as much as possible.

Czech National Security Adviser Tomáš Pojar and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský were also present during Zelenskyy’s official welcome at the Government Office earlier today. In Prague, President Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet later today with Miloš Vystrčil, the speaker of the Senate, and Markéta Pekarová Adamová, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.

Late night meeting with President Pavel

Upon his arrival on Thursday evening via a Czech government plane, President Zelenskyy met President Petr Pavel at Prague Castle. At the square in front of the Castle, Zelenskyy's arrival in his traditional green shirt was watched by dozens of people behind barriers who unfurled a banner reading "Ukraine in NATO" and holding Ukrainian and Czech flags. They applauded the arrival of the motorcade.

After meeting with President Pavel, Zelenskyy said Czech participation in the fate of Ukraine is clear. "We feel it in defense, in politics, in everything we do," Zelenskyy said. He also commended the Czech Republic for taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees. "We dream of the day when we will be able to guarantee security for all people and Ukrainians will be able to return to their country," he said.

High hopes for progress on NATO membership

Both leaders voiced their support for Ukraine's membership in NATO, with President Zelenskyy expressing his hope for an invitation to the alliance's upcoming summit. President Pavel emphasized the Czech Republic’s interest in initiating Ukraine's accession talks as soon as the conflict with Russia comes to an end.

Zelenskyy said an ideal outcome of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius would be an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO, although he understood it may be difficult to get full support for that position. "I think this is the right moment to show the unity and bravery of the alliance. We need to give a clear signal that this is a turning point for us," he said.

Dangers of Russian propaganda

He and Pavel talked about common security, cooperation on strengthening defense, and eliminating "the terrorist danger from Russia". He mentioned the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, which the Russians occupy. Ukraine said this week that Russia was about to accuse it of shelling the plant.

Zelenskyy referred to the destructive influence of Russian propaganda. "Unfortunately, it also has an impact on the environment in the country. We need to defend ourselves against it," he said.

On Twitter, President Pavel called Zelenskyy a man whose determination and bravery inspire the whole world. "For nearly 500 days, President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people have resisted Russian aggression. On behalf of the Czech Republic, I can today personally assure him again that he is not alone in his fight for freedom and sovereignty and never will be," Pavel tweeted.

Already planning for Ukraine's reconstruction

National Security Adviser Pojar accompanied Zelenskyy from Bulgaria to Prague on Thursday. A Czech plane was escorted by Gripen fighters.

In an interview with Czech Television, Pojar mentioned the possibility of a future visit by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal and key ministers to the Czech Republic to discuss Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.

“We are starting to talk about big contracts that should employ people in the Czech Republic in the future,” he said. He named the renewal of Ukraine's railways and the metro in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Pavel told a news conference on Thursday that 30 Czech businessmen will visit Ukraine next week with the government's commissioner for Ukraine's reconstruction, Tomáš Kopečný.

Pojar added that the visit was made simpler due to the Czech holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. "Prague is empty, most of the people in Prague are out of the capital. From a security and logistical point of view it is easier," he said.  

This is Zelenskyy's first visit to Prague since the commencement of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine last year. The visit is being carried out under extraordinary security measures. Prague Castle was closed to the public on Thursday afternoon.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zelenskyy has visited several Western capitals, including London, Paris, Berlin, and Washington, as well as Warsaw. After his visit to the Czech Republic, he is expected to head to Istanbul, where he will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others, according to Turkish media.

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