Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates) arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday morning in the Ukrainian capital. During his visit, Lipavský plans to address security issues, Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction, and its integration primarily into the EU. He is to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, and will also visit some war-torn areas.
“Russia is trying to destroy Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Czech Republic has long supported Ukraine militarily, politically, and humanitarian, which will be the subject of the talks. We want to confirm the importance of relations and discuss specific issues. Security issues will be key,” Lipavský told reporters on his way to Kyiv.
As with all politicians who have traveled to the Russian-invaded country in recent months, Lipavsky’s current trip is accompanied by strict security measures. The minister traveled to Kyiv on a darkened train overnight, and information about the trip was strictly embargoed.
During his time on Ukrainian territory, he will visit some cities or places virtually destroyed by the Russian bombing in recent months. In addition, he will have several meetings with Ukrainian politicians.
Meetings with Zelensky and the ruins
He will have closed-door discussions with President Volodymyr Zelensky and meetings with his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
In addition to security issues, Lipavský wants to discuss Ukraine’s integration into the European Union. The country was granted candidate status at the end of June.
“Another big topic is the European integration of Ukraine. It has been granted candidate status, but now Ukraine has to complete several tasks. The Czech Republic can also help with this integration process within the framework of its EU Presidency. We know that it will not happen overnight, but we need to work systematically on it over the long term,” the Czech diplomatic chief said.
“First and foremost, however, we need Ukraine to win and Russian aggression to stop so that they can export their grain and people do not have to flee their homes because missiles are falling on them,” he added.
A word should also be said about the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, which is a topic that the Czech Republic wants to open and support during the current EU presidency. The minister noted that this is an institutional issue in which other major players will also have a say.
“The discussion is broader and goes beyond the possibilities of Czech foreign policy in the sense that we would be the players who would determine something,” Lipavský said, adding that the Czech Republic wants to be present in this debate influence the debate on the reconstruction of Ukraine.
“The Ukrainians must prepare for winter. They must have fuel supplies secured and roofs and windows repaired. This is part of the effort,” he added.
Together with Lipavský, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg also arrived in Kyiv. Slovak diplomatic chief Ivan Korčok was also supposed to attend the trip as part of the so-called Slavkov format, but he reportedly had to cancel it due to a positive test for COVID.
In the same format, these politicians came to Ukraine to express solidarity at the beginning of February this year, about two weeks before the Russian invasion began.
Shortly after the start of the conflict, Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) visited the country as a gesture of support, and later the head of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil (ODS), together with the first deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, Jiří Růžička (TOP 09 and STAN), and Senator Pavel Fischer.