Under what circumstances did you go to Ukraine?
It was at the invitation of Maria Mezentseva, MP for Kharkiv and from the President’s party. She is Head of Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Vice-President of the Commission for European Integration and President of the friendship group between the Ukrainian and Belgian parliaments. She is President Zelenski’s envoy throughout Europe, I already knew her before the war. At the Polish border, I took the night train: caulked windows, travel under military escort, at a reduced speed because the rails are in poor condition and you have to take warnings into account. We experienced one in Lviv which caused a six-hour downtime. At the station, there were refugees leaving Ukraine, others returning. We see the mobilization of the whole world: on the way back, the Lisbon firefighters distributed hot meals.
Were you able to speak to President Zelenski?
I had a meeting with his diplomatic adviser, others with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, with the mayor of kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, with the head of military intelligence or even the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European integration, Olga Stefanyshyna. She expressed her gratitude and positive surprise at the almost immediate decision of the European Union to grant subsidiary protection to her fellow citizens. “I thought I would have to negotiate a lot and beg to protect them, but all the borders were open. So I cried, because I knew my fellow citizens would be saved,” she told me. She has a great gratitude towards Europe and Belgium for political, humanitarian, military or justice support… The Ukrainians have this gratitude towards us and at the same time, they are worried…
►► He evokes the concerns of the Ukrainians regarding Belgium.
►► They would like additional help: “On the humanitarian level, they would like us to help them…”
►► But also military demands.
►► Find here the interview of Georges Dallemand.