26 July 2022
Inauguration of Ukrainian miniature monuments at Mini-Europe
Ms. Anoshyna, Chargé d'Affaires of the Ukrainian Embassy in Belgium,
Mr Meeùs, Managing Director and Mrs Meeùus, Administration Manager of Mini-Europe;
A very good morning to you and welcome.
I am particularly pleased to be here with you this morning for this wonderful initiative set up by Mini-Europe and its teams.
Last Sunday, it was five months to the day that Russia unleashed an unjustified, unprovoked war against Ukraine, in contradiction with international laws.
From the very first day, our country, as well as our European and Western partners, have shown in words, gestures and concrete actions our utmost solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
When the war seems to last as it is the case at the moment, every opportunity to remind ourselves of this formidable surge of fraternity must be seized that has a decisive importance on the ground and to the benefit of the Ukrainian people.
This is why I wanted to be here today.
The inauguration is, in my opinion, highly symbolic.
First of all, this scale model puts the spotlight on a central monument of the history of Ukraine: the Maïden - Independence Square and its iconic column.
This representation of the Maiden, refers of course, in the first place, to the regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
This independence - fruit of the will of the Ukrainian people - means - without possible dispute - that Ukraine and its citizens are sovereign in their decisions and that the territorial integrity of the country - within the internationally recognized borders - must be fully respected.
This is a core message that needs to be convey today.
Seeing a reproduction of the Maiden in Mini-Europe is also a very strong message because - if this place is well known to Europeans - it is mainly because it was at the heart of the pro-European demonstrations in 2013.
This monument therefore symbolizes the European aspiration of Ukraine and its willingness to turn to the values of democracy and freedom that are the foundation of our Union.
There have been recent developments on this path to the EU.
A month ago, Ukraine was granted candidate to the European Union and this is a real good news for us all.
Of course, there is still a long way to go, but this step will remain historic, confirming also that Ukraine is without a doubt part of the European family.
Today, I am proud to belong to one of the first countries to have shown concrete support by providing military and civilian equipment in the name of the Ukrainians' legitimate right to defend themselves.
We have also provided humanitarian supplies, food, medical equipment via ten B-Fast missions, and we have also offered to receive the wounded Ukrainians in our hospitals.
To this, I could also add our various contributions such as, for example, direct financial aid in terms of development cooperation or our financing of the International Criminal Court to ensure that the perpetrators of war crimes are prosecuted, put on trial and punished.
All these initiatives specific to Belgium do not take into account the efforts made by our country at the international level - in particular in the European or NATO framework.
It is clear: we are well beyond the stage of intentions.
We are acting.
But Belgian solidarity is also expressed within our borders, through welcoming Ukrainian refugees for example.
There are just over 50,000 of them in our country today.
You will have noticed, as I have, the warm welcome that many Belgians have shown, not hesitating to open their homes to families fleeing war.
In addition to this, thousands of solidarity initiatives complemented the action of the public authorities.
All this proves that Belgium - the whole country - stands by the Ukrainians in these awful and very difficult times.
And we will continue to do so.
We are fully committed.
And we will still be there when it comes to rebuilding your beautiful country after the war and supporting Ukraine to implement reforms.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to close this speech by thanking Mini-Europe - its management and its teams - for having made this excellent idea a reality.
When we know the park's European commitment and its deep educational vocation, we immediately understand that this project makes really sense.
It is a fine tribute that is being paid today - what's more, in Brussels: the capital of Belgium and, above all, the heart of Europe.
Quite a symbol.
Thank you very much.