Czechia to Zelensky: Ukraine will not remain alone

Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Prague on Thursday for talks aimed at drumming up support for his country’s fast track admission to NATO ahead of next week’s summit in Vilnius. He received assurances from the president and prime minister that Czechia would remain a staunch ally.

President Zelensky arrived on a Czech government plane, escorted by two Air Force jets and was whisked to Prague Castle, amid what has been described as the biggest security operation in years.

Petr Pavel and Volodymyr Zelensky | Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

Following a brief ceremony on Prague Castle’s main courtyard the Ukrainian leader headed for a 90-minute-long private meeting with the Czech president to ascertain the measure of Czech support his country could expect at the upcoming NATO summit. He was not disappointed.

Speaking at a press briefing following the talks, President Pavel said it was not just in Czechia’s best interest, but its moral duty to support Ukraine in its quest for something that Czechia itself had striven for not so long ago – the right to freedom and to choose where it belonged.

“We need to say loud and clear that it is in the interest of the Czech Republic that Ulkraine should be invited to start accession talks with NATO as soon as this war is over. It is in the interest of our own security, regional stability but also economic prosperity. History has taught us that strength lies in unity, and in supporting countries that engage in cooperation rather than confrontation. We likewise back Ukraine’s ambition to join the EU and hope to see accession talks launched before the end of the year. Ukraine needs to hear that Europe is ready to embrace it in the years to come.”

The Czech president said Ukraine could count on continued Czech support both on a political, military and humanitarian level. He underlined the significance of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius not just for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Petr Pavel | Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

“The situation in Ukraine will be decisive for the security in the whole region. At the NATO summit we will talk about institutionalizing support for Ukraine over a five-year time frame, support to the tune of 500 million euros. Czechia is ready to contribute 5 million euros to this effort. Ukraine’s position will also be bolstered by the creation of a NATO-Ukraine council, which will hold its first session in Vilnius. This will be a platform where Ukraine will sit at the table with NATO members as an equal and the communication will take place on a completely different level.”

On Friday morning, the Ukrainian president met with Prime Minister Petr Fiala who likewise pledged continued support for his country.

Petr Fiala and Volodymyr Zelensky | Photo: Vít Šimánek,  ČTK

“I want to express deep admiration for the courage with which the Ukrainian people have resisted the Russian aggression. Czechia has supported its fight for independence from day one and will continue to do so. I have just confirmed that we will give Ukraine more military helicopters and more munitions deliveries, we will help train fighter jet pilots and provide simulators so that training can take place on the ground in Ukraine as well.”

President Zelensky thanked the president, government and the Czech people for their support of Ukraine, both material and moral, the anti-Russian sanctions that Czechia enforced and the high number of Ukrainian refugees the country has taken in.

"The help you are giving is visible in all areas, in defence, but also in political negotiations; in practically everything we do for the freedom of our people. So I want to thank Czechs for the way you are helping our people, our children, whom you have taken in as refugees. In Ukraine, we dream of the day when we can ensure the safety of our people so that they can return to their homeland.”

Volodymyr Zelensky with Petr Fiala | Photo: Vít Šimánek,  ČTK
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