(Above) L-R: Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine; Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg; Credit: ME / Max Gutenkauf

On Tuesday 21 June 2022, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel visited Kyiv in Ukraine, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Firstly, Luxembourg's Prime Minister, accompanied by Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited the town of Borodianka and the cities of Bucha and Irpin. In Irpin, he visited the "Ukraine-Crucifixion" exhibition and participated in a short ceremony in memory of Ukrainian children who have died in connection with the Russian invasion. The Prime Minister placed a toy there as a commemorative gesture.

"I salute the memory of the victims in these 'heroic' cities, as the Ukrainians have decided to call them. I admire the courage of the women and men who are in the process of rebuilding basic infrastructure, of bringing these cities back to life after the barbarism that took place there with its share of abuses, crimes and violations of international humanitarian law. You can count on Luxembourg to support the investigations of national and international actors into these war crimes, and to work to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities are identified, prosecuted and punished", noted Prime Minister Bettel during these visits.

The field visits concluded with an interview with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. The main topics discussed were Luxembourg's support for the Ukrainian people in terms of humanitarian, military and financial contributions, as well as European sanctions against Russia and global food insecurity as a direct consequence of Russian aggression. The Prime Minister deemed it important to emphasise the support of the Luxembourg people for Ukraine: "Four months after the start of the war, and following your invitation, I am here today to show Luxembourg's support for Ukraine. My message – to you, Mr President, and to the Ukrainian people, here in Ukraine and to all those seeking refuge elsewhere – is clear: We – Luxembourg and the people of Luxembourg – stand by your side".

Ukraine's candidacy to become a member of the European Union (EU) was also discussed during this interview. Luxembourg's Prime Minister stated: "I wish to inform you today of the political support of Luxembourg in favour of the granting, without delay, of a status of candidate to become a member of the EU. Following the Commission's opinion, I will also plead in the European Council in this direction. This is an important signal of hope that you, Ukraine and the Ukrainian people deserve". However, the Prime Minister added that "in this debate, it is important to ensure that the expectations of all parties are managed. We know that there is no 'fast track' to becoming a member of the EU. With candidate status, a long process begins. We simply cannot ignore the acquis communautaire and the Copenhagen criteria - rule of law; respect for fundamental rights; a functioning market economy".

Prime Minister Bettel concluded by remarking: "Yes, the challenges are substantial. But: I can assure you that Luxembourg will remain by your side. Today in the face of Russian aggression. And in the long term for the reconstruction of your country".

After this interview, Luxembourg's Prime Minister had meetings with his Ukrainian counterpart, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and with the Speaker of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament), Ruslan Stefanchuk.