President of Ukraine

"Soft power" becomes effective and powerful - Olena Zelenska told how the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen helps Ukraine and changes the world

30 December 2022 - 14:03

The wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska told about the development of the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen in the year 2022.

On her initiative, the second such event was held in Kyiv on July 23. The Summit, launched by the First Lady in 2021 as an international platform for sharing experience and implementing joint projects for the well-being of people around the world, gathered twice as many representatives as last year. In 2021, the event brought together 11 first ladies and almost two dozen experts. This year, the number of both participants (23 first ladies) and international speakers doubled. In person and online the event was attended by 23 wives of leaders of various countries, including Austria, Belize, Belgium, Greece, Ecuador, Israel, Iceland, Spain, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, USA, Türkiye, France, Montenegro, as well as the Princess of Liechtenstein, the wife of the President of the European Council, the Queen of Sweden. Almost 50 world-famous speakers joined the event, including President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Ghebreyesus, British football player and philanthropist David Beckham, and American actor Richard Gere.

The summit was held in the format of a teleconference between the five countries. The main studio was located in Kyiv, on the territory of the National Reserve "St. Sophia of Kyiv", four others - in Warsaw, Brussels, Washington and London. The event was broadcasted in more than 20 countries.

The second Summit aimed to draw the world's attention to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Its topic: "Ukraine and the world: the future we (re)build together".

"In 2021, I launched the Summit - a unique community of first ladies and gentlemen to make the world a better place by developing it. Then no one imagined that the world would have to be saved. And specifically the whole country. Our country. After February 24, after the Russian invasion, when many professional politicians did not even have time to make statements, my colleagues came out with words of support, with offers of assistance. In the most difficult months after the Russian attack, together we evacuated children with cancer, brought humanitarian aid and incubators for newborns to Ukraine. Together we conceived and implemented programs of psychological assistance and prosthetics for the war victims. And they responded instantly to the proposal to hold the second Summit. I think all this became possible because we have common values. And the greatest of them is human life and its salvation," Olena Zelenska said.

The President's wife noted that the Summit had provided effective assistance to Ukraine. On the eve of the event, the fundraising platform United24 started raising funds for the type C ambulances. These ambulances can move even off-road and are equipped with everything necessary to quickly and safely deliver seriously wounded to the hospital. The Summit managed to raise USD 6.4 million, which made it possible to purchase 84 ambulances for the needs of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Olena Zelenska emphasized that this year's Summit had become a permanent platform - she had been meeting with its participants for effective assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainians throughout the year, in particular on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, during visits to France, the United Kingdom, Poland, Türkiye, as well as via video link.

In the framework of her visit to New York on the occasion of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, the First Lady of Ukraine also held a brunch meeting with a wide range of participants: First Lady of Latvia Andra Levite, First Lady of Poland Agata Kornhauser-Duda, First Lady of Lithuania Diana Nausėdienė, First Lady of Estonia Sirje Karis, First Lady of Suriname Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry, wife of the President of the European Council Amélie Derbaudrenghien, wife of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga Fiona Sovaleni, husband of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Gauthier Destenay, wife of the Prime Minister of Malta Dr. Lydia Abela.

In addition, Olena Zelenska held a series of phone and video conversations with colleagues - participants of the second Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen, during which she discussed the results of the event and future steps for cooperation in humanitarian, cultural, educational projects, as well as in the field of mental and physical health. In total, Olena Zelenska held 13 conversations.

"Video calls that we made in the framework of the Summit allowed us to deepen relations between our countries, learn more about people's lives and their needs. And this is all important for joining efforts and working on joint projects. Together we can do more than alone," she emphasized.

On the eve of the New Year, the wife of the President of Ukraine and the participants of the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen summed up the results of the current year and made plans for the next one in an online format.

The online meeting was attended by: First Lady of France Brigitte Macron, First Lady of the Republic of Latvia Andra Levite, wife of the President of Lithuania Diana Nausėdienė, First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid, wife of the President of the Republic of North Macedonia Elizabeta Gjorgievska, wife of the Prime Minister of Belgium Annik Penders, First Lady of the Republic of Serbia Tamara Vučić, wife of the Premier of Bermuda Kristin Burt, First Lady of Estonia Sirje Karis. Olena Zelenska offered to integrate the Summit into the events of international organizations and vice versa.

"Such meetings within other major international events will add regularity to our cooperation. We can jointly hold international events of other global organizations: UNGA, G7, G20, etc. and represent the Summit on their sidelines," the President's wife said.

She noted that the Russian attack on Ukraine and Ukrainian resistance are changing the world. And the role of first ladies is also changing.

"The Summit platform works despite the war. And even more effectively. This year, we have found fundamentally new formats of interaction and obtained its practical results. Our example shows that "soft power" is becoming effective and powerful, and the role of first ladies is significantly increasing," Olena Zelenska summed up.