First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, as part of her visit to France, met with Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.
On April 14, 2022, Anne Hidalgo made her first visit to Ukraine and visited Bucha and Borodianka. In total, she has visited our country three times. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Paris has provided emergency assistance to Ukraine amounting to EUR 1 million for the organization of the collection and delivery of essential goods, established four reception centers for Ukrainian citizens, sent eight dump trucks to Kharkiv to help clear debris, and gave funds to Ukrainian cities to purchase 80 powerful generators. On February 24 and August 24 of this year, at the decision of Anne Hidalgo, the symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, was illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. In recognition of Paris's support and assistance to Ukrainians, the city was awarded a special distinction called the "City-Rescuer," which the mayor of the French capital received from President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"Under your leadership, the French capital confidently transforms into a human-centric, environment-friendly, solidarity-based, and inclusive city of the future. Unfortunately, today in Ukraine, we have to confront the challenge of war while simultaneously building a better future based on the principles of sustainable development, developing our state for the comfortable living of Ukrainians. It would be valuable for us to hear about the positive transformations in Paris and discuss practical projects that we could implement together in Ukraine. We are particularly interested in collaboration on projects in the field of inclusivity and accessibility, as well as psychological support for the population," Olena Zelenska said.
Anne Hidalgo briefed the First Lady of Ukraine on the Solidarity Factory project. It is a place for quick response to various emergency situations, where one can receive rapid humanitarian assistance or undergo volunteer training courses.
She also spoke about the intention to make 17 districts of the city fully accessible before the start of the Summer Olympics, which will take place next year in Paris. The city administration has also reached out to sports facilities with a request to open sections for people with disabilities.
The President's wife emphasized the importance of such experience for Ukraine, which also aims to create a welcoming space for all citizens who have suffered injuries due to war or other reasons.
"I would like to secure the support of the Mayor of Paris for the implementation, next summer during the Olympic Games, of a charity concert by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra – an orchestra of leading Ukrainian musicians formed after the start of the Russian aggression," Olena Zelenska said.
She highlighted the principled position of the Mayor of Paris regarding the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Olympics, even under a neutral flag.