Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is the guest of honor at the Diplomatic Days. A symbolic presence for Belgium which intends to show that the war raging in Ukraine has not taken a back seat despite the crisis in the Middle East.
A presence in Brussels which also falls on a special day since the European Commission is due to publish a report on November 8 recommending that Member States open negotiations with Kiev with a view to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. . “As far as we know, the Commission will give a positive signal for Ukraine. Indeed, we are impressed by the progress you have been able to make, while a war rages. Of course, there are still steps to take,” underlined the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hadja Lahbib, alongside her Ukrainian counterpart.
In January, Belgium will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union for a period of six months. “Belgium is at your side to support your country’s first steps in setting up the negotiation process,” added Ms. Lahbib. The head of Belgian diplomacy also assured Ukraine of its continued support, which recently resulted in the announcement of the delivery of F-16s from 2025 and the creation of a fund financed by the tax collected from companies that hold Russian assets frozen in Belgium. “Ukraine can count on Belgium, today, tomorrow, during our EU presidency and beyond,” added Ms. Lahbib.
“Belgium has created a precedent”
The Belgian presidency takes on particular importance for Ukraine, since it is during this mandate that Ukraine’s accession process should take place. “I clearly heard the message that Belgium understood its historical responsibility towards Ukraine,” underlined Mr. Kuleba. The head of Ukrainian diplomacy has spoken with several of his colleagues in recent weeks. He was reassured about maintaining support for his country.
“In every meeting I attended, I heard a clear message: whatever happens in the world, support for Ukraine remains a priority,” he said. By creating this support fund indirectly supplied by frozen Russian assets, Belgium is acting as a pioneer. In the eyes of the Ukrainian authorities, this example should multiply within the EU and grow. “Belgium has created a precedent, a very good precedent. We now need a broader legal framework at EU level to allow all member states in possession of Russian assets to use them legally for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The message is simple: Russia causes damage, Russia must pay,” Mr. Kuleba stressed.
“I insisted on this point yesterday during my meeting with the European Commission and, given Belgium’s leading role on this point, we will also coordinate closely to introduce this broader framework across the European Union ”. In his eyes, it is not only necessary to be able to use the tax collected thanks to the interest on these assets but also the interest itself. “It’s a more complicated issue but we think we need to find a legal way to use the assets themselves,” Mr. Kuleba said.
This article is originally published on bx1.be