As part of her visit to the French Republic, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska held a meeting with First Lady of France Brigitte Macron. The wife of the President of Ukraine thanked Brigitte Macron and France for the comprehensive support of our country in resisting the Russian invaders.
"I commend the sincerity of French-Ukrainian relations. After all, true friends are those who help in a difficult moment and sincerely rejoice in your victories. Ukraine highly appreciates France's help at all levels - both from state bodies and ordinary citizens. It is seen and felt by all Ukrainians who were forced to stay in France for the period of the war. I especially want to thank you for your personal involvement in sheltering Ukrainian children with cancer, who can now undergo treatment in the best French hospitals," Olena Zelenska addressed Brigitte Macron.
The First Ladies planned a joint visit to a school where children of Ukrainian temporary immigrants study. As the President's wife noted, the key goal is to do everything necessary so that Ukrainians outside their homeland can continue to study according to the Ukrainian program.
"Paris became the first French city where the official study of the Ukrainian language began in schools. And the French government even created virtual classes for teaching the Ukrainian language. Mrs. Macron spoke enthusiastically about Ukrainian women. During the meeting with Ukrainian women, she felt that they are incredible people with incredible energy," said Olena Zelenska.
As expected, the First Ladies will jointly present the Olena Zelenska Foundation in Paris. It was founded on September 22, 2022 and is designed to contribute to the restoration of Ukraine.
The Foundation has three areas of activity: healthcare, education and humanitarian aid, within which it will provide targeted assistance, invest in the reconstruction of preschool and school educational institutions, polyclinics, outpatient clinics, as well as in the restoration of their material and technical base.
"I created the Foundation so that everyone in the world could participate in the restoration of Ukraine, primarily in providing humanitarian aid, rebuilding hospitals and schools. I think that the French, who have always valued human rights (and the most indisputable of them – the right to life), will not stay aloof here either. After all, human rights have no borders," Olena Zelenska emphasized.
She informed that at the presentation a fundraising is planned for the restoration of the main hospital in the city of Izyum, Kharkiv region (Central City Hospital).
On the first day of her visit to France, Olena Zelenska also visited the country's National Library, where she saw unique artifacts related to Ukraine, the collection of works by the French artist of Ukrainian origin Sonia Delaunay - the first woman artist whose personal exhibition was held in the Louvre during her lifetime. The President's wife thanked the library management for supporting Ukrainian culture.
"On the website of the library there is a special section "Solidarity with the Ukrainian people". Back in May, a comprehensive bibliography on Ukrainian topics was prepared here, which is available online and presented in the reading rooms. For Ukrainians who were forced to leave, there are many opportunities to learn French. The National Library has offered our libraries and cultural institutions access to digital storage for their collections if necessary. And this is only part of the measures to preserve the Ukrainian cultural heritage that have been deployed," said Olena Zelenska.
The First Lady handed over books to the institution for the ceremonial opening of the "Ukrainian Bookshelf".
"Availing myself of this opportunity, I handed over the 24 volumes of the "Encyclopedia of Modern Ukraine" prepared by Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine - the publication that most fully covers all spheres of our state's existence. I also replenished the Ukrainian bookshelf with classical and historical literature, educational and children's books, publications on art - I thank the Kyiv School of Economics for this selection. It was a meaningful and very fruitful visit to the National Library, which left a firm confidence: cooperation between our cultural institutions will only deepen to mutually enrich our cultures," the President's wife said.
Olena Zelenska also held a meeting with UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.
The First Lady thanked the organization for its comprehensive support during the war months, in particular for sending 50,000 laptops for distance education to Ukrainian schools.
Together with Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko, Olena Zelenska provided the UNESCO Director General with a list of the needs of Ukrainian cultural institutions in order to endure the winter.
The First Lady called on the organization to create a program to help Ukrainian monuments and cultural institutions that suffer from Russian attacks.
"We will be grateful for the comprehensive implementation of the appropriate program for the protection and promotion of culture and cultural heritage in Ukraine, including international financial assistance. I welcome the decision to appoint a UNESCO representative in Kyiv. This is an important gesture of solidarity, especially now, during a war. UNESCO monitors the situation with cultural heritage sites through the satellite systems of other UN agencies. This is important for documenting all the crimes of the aggressor," she said.
In addition, on the first day of the visit, Olena Zelenska became a guest of the French TV channel BFM TV and answered the questions of the journalists and the audience.