Madrid, Jul 1 (EFE).- Spain took over the presidency of the European Union Council on Saturday with a symbolic trip by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to Ukraine to reaffirm the bloc’s support for Kyiv amid Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Sánchez traveled by train to the Ukrainian capital at dawn on Saturday after attending an EU leaders summit in Brussels.
“Already in Kyiv. I wanted the first act of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU to be in Ukraine together with Zelenskyy,” Sanchez tweeted upon his arrival to Ukraine.
“I will convey all of Europe’s solidarity to (his) Government and Parliament.
“We will maintain our support for the Ukrainian people until peace returns to Europe,” he added.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the symbolic nature of Sánchez’s visit on the first day of Spain’s EU Council presidency.
“This actually says a lot about how important the next six months will be for our Europe,” Zelenskyy said. “This is a historic time to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the EU.”
Sánchez, who is on his third trip to Kyiv since Russia launched its invasion in February last year, will meet Zelenskyy and speak before the Ukrainian Parliament where he is expected to pledge the EU’s support to the war-stricken nation.
Spanish government sources underscored that pledging military, humanitarian and economic aid for Ukraine and reinforcing the bloc’s commitment to the stabilization, recovery and reconstruction of the Eastern European country was a top priority of Spain’s presidency of the EU.
The same sources added that Spain will also support Kyiv’s goal of joining the EU and will encourage Zelenskyy’s government to undertake the necessary reforms to do so.
Sánchez will return to Spain later on Saturday and Sunday he will receive European Council President Charles Michel at the Moncloa Palace with whom he will have a working dinner.
On Monday, the EU’s College of Commissioners led by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Madrid and meet with Sánchez and members of his cabinet.
Spain has assumed the EU presidency with four main priorities: the reindustrialization of the EU and guaranteeing its open strategic autonomy, boosting an ecological transition, promoting greater social and economic justice, and reinforcing European unity.
This is the fifth time Spain has taken over the presidency of the EU council since joining the bloc in 1986.
Madrid will hold the presidency for six months, until Dec. 31.