Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez starts EU presidency with a visit to Kyiv

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in Kyiv on July 1 to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Spain kicked off its presidency of the European Union.

Pedro Sanchez posted footage from the Kyiv railway station on Twitter. 

“In Kyiv already. I wanted the first act of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union to be in Ukraine” with its President, Sanchez wrote on his official Twitter account.

“I will convey to your government and parliament the full solidarity of Europe”, and “we will maintain our support for the Ukrainian people until peace returns to Europe”, added Sanchez.

Sanchez underlined Europe’s support for Ukraine

Unlike most visits of top foreign guests, which are kept secret until the last minute, Sanchez’s visit was known in advance – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced it during an online speech at a meeting of the European Council. 

On July 1, Spain replaced Sweden as the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. It will hold the presidency until the end of 2023.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares had previously stated that the priority of the Spanish presidency of the European Union would be “preserving European unity in the face of Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

According to Mr Albares, Spain’s efforts will be aimed at ensuring that Europe is a “decisive player” in these events and that European values prevail, El Mundo reported.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez assured that the early parliamentary elections in late July would not affect his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023.

Sanchez visits Ukraine for the third time

This Saturday’s visit is Sánchez’s third to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24 2022.

The head of the Spanish government Kyiv on an important date, February 23, the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s war. In addition to meeting with Zelensky, Sanchez gave a speech to the Ukrainian Parliament.

That visit came before his subsequent trip to China, before whose President, Xi Jinping, Sanchez defended the peace plan formulated by Zelenski and the need for the Chinese leader to talk to both Moscow and Kyiv and the one he made weeks later to Washington to meet with Joe Biden. He insisted on Friday that this peace plan is “the best basis for achieving a just and lasting peace”.

Sánchez will return to Madrid on July 2 to meet with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. A day later, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the bloc’s college of commissioners will arrive in the Spanish capital.

In addition to Ukraine, Spain hopes to progress on other important EU issues, such as migration, during its turn in the presidency, which ends on December 31.

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