On the second day of her visit to the French Republic, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska took part in the "In Solidarity with the Ukrainian People" conference held in Paris. The event was initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron.
She devoted her speech to the need for international solidarity and support for civil resilience in Ukraine and its humanitarian dimension.
“Can you imagine half the population of France without electricity for 30 or more hours? Such blackouts are a new form of terror of Russia. There is not a single power plant left in Ukraine that would not be damaged by Russian missiles and Iranian drones," the President's wife said.
Olena Zelenska gave the example of the hospital in Izyum destroyed by the occupiers, which is a hub for the local community of 100 thousand people and the doctors who continued to save lives in the Russian occupation in the absence of electricity, heat and water.
"Traumatologist Yuriy Kuznetsov came to the hospital for his shift on the night of March 6 this year. On a shift that lasted... until September, until Izyum was freed from Russian occupation. The lives of hundreds of people were saved because one person stayed and managed to become greater than he was before. We all managed to become greater than we were before the war. In order to defend themselves, Ukrainians managed to become greater even than such terror," the First Lady said.
The wife of the President of Ukraine called on the French community to join the restoration of the hospital in Izyum.
"Fleeing from Izyum, the occupiers also robbed it. The equipment that was intact, the oxygen concentrators and the beds from the COVID section... They took everything that was of any value. Even sockets, wiring and toilets were removed. This is what their invasion is, this is what the Russian army is," she said.
The First Lady noted that it is possible to get involved, in particular, through the Olena Zelenska Foundation, which was created specifically to help rebuild Ukraine.
"Become greater than you have been up to this point. Join the common victory," urged the First Lady.
Also on this day, Olena Zelenska held a meeting with the Minister of Culture of France Rima Abdul Malak.
The parties discussed urgent assistance to Ukrainian cultural institutions, in particular, equipment that will help survive the winter period, and the provision of financial support to destroyed cultural institutions of the Chernihiv region.
"I count on your support for the idea of holding seasons of Ukrainian culture in France in 2023," said Olena Zelenska.
Together with Minister of Culture of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko, the First Lady handed over to Rima Abdul Malak the project of the art event “Ukraine. Out of Blackout”, which reveals the thousand-year history of Ukrainian art and aims to shed light on Ukrainian culture and its connection with Europe.
"All Ukrainian culture today is our way out of blackout. We may not have electricity, but our culture gives us light. And in response, we have to protect our heritage from the attacker," the First Lady is convinced.
Together with the Minister of Culture of France and accompanied by President of the Louvre museum Laurence des Cars, Olena Zelenska visited the Louvre, where it was agreed to introduce tours in the Ukrainian language.
"The Louvre will speak Ukrainian. The scale of the project is huge, because the museum's exhibits cover 10,000 years of history! Currently, the Louvre has an audio guide available in nine languages (Russian, by the way, is not among them). And if Ukrainian is added to them, it will be an extremely important signal for the world cultural community and a powerful support for thousands of Ukrainians who have been sheltered by France," Olena Zelenska emphasized.
In addition, together with First Lady of the French Republic Brigitte Macron and accompanied by Minister of Education Pap Ndiaye, Olena Zelenska also visited the Paris school where Ukrainian children from families of temporary migrants study.
"When Brigitte Macron and I met in New York in the autumn, she immediately praised Ukrainian children - how quickly they adapt to French schools. And today Mrs. Macron offered me to make sure of this and invited me to the school where eight Ukrainian children from families who received temporary protection study," said the wife of the President of Ukraine.
The first ladies talked with schoolchildren, parents and teachers.
"We discussed how to make the integration into the educational process in French-speaking schools even smoother and what we can do together with the French government for this. By the way, it was Paris that became the first French city where the official study of the Ukrainian language began in schools. I hope that this is only the beginning of our cooperation in this direction and shortly we will open a full-fledged French-Ukrainian school. I am grateful to Mrs. Macron for the personal care which she constantly demonstrates towards Ukrainian children," said Olena Zelenska.