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Prime Minister Golob: Ukraine is the victim and Russia the aggressor

On 9 February 2023, Prime Minister Robert Golob attended the special meeting of the European Council in Brussels. The leaders’ agenda included the situation in Ukraine and possibilities for further EU support, the economy and migration. They also discussed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was the main guest of the first part of the meeting.

In his public address, President Zelenskyy thanked in particular the EU and its Member States for their support so far and called for continued support for Ukraine. He met EU leaders in small groups and the Slovenian Prime Minister expressed his continued strong support for Ukraine's independence: "We will continue to help Ukraine in every possible way. It is true, however, that the need for assistance changes according to the situation on the ground. Our Ukrainian friends know very well that there has never been any doubt in Slovenia that Ukraine is the victim and Russia is the aggressor."

The members of the European Council reiterated its resolute condemnation of Russia’s military aggression and expressed their support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The EU will continue to provide political, economic, military, financial and humanitarian support for Ukraine. The leaders stressed that the EU's readiness to further tighten its restrictive measures, having recently adopted a price cap on oil products. They are ready to support Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace. The European Council also welcomed Ukraine’s reform efforts and reaffirmed that the country’s future lies within the EU.

The leaders then discussed the economy, where the EU aims to boost competitiveness and secure strategic sovereignty in the transition to a green and digital economy. This will be achieved in particular by simplify state aid procedures, deploying existing EU funds in a more flexible manner, speeding up administrative procedures, closing investment gaps in strategic sectors, etc.

European Council members stressed the need to respond to migration at the European level. The leaders focused specifically on the external dimension of migration. The EU and its Member States will thus intensify their cooperation with countries of origin and transit to strengthen their capacity for border management, prevent irregular flows, break the business model of smugglers and increase migrant returns. The EU will continue to support partners in addressing root causes of irregular migration and in promoting safe and regular migration. The European Council considers that the monitoring of the visa policies of neighbouring countries needs to be improved and welcomes the progress made by the Western Balkans partners in aligning with the EU’s visa policy. It called on them to take further steps rapidly.

EU Heads of Government and Member States also underlined the urgent need for progress in the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia in the framework of the dialogue process led by the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Both sides should also seize this historic chance to realise their European perspective.

The leaders also expressed their unity and solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria following the tragic earthquake, and reaffirmed the EU's readiness to provide further assistance to the affected regions. In this spirit, they welcomed the initiative of the Swedish Presidency and the Commission to host an international donors' conference in Brussels in March.