During a visit to Strasbourg, First Lady Olena Zelenska held a meeting with Vice-President of the European Commission for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas and European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. The President's wife thanked them for their recent visit to Ukraine.
"You draw the attention of European and world leaders to Ukraine and the problems we are forced to deal with due to Russia's barbaric military aggression against Ukraine," Olena Zelenska said.
The First Lady discussed with Margaritis Schinas the urgent need for international support for Ukrainian education, in particular, assistance in the implementation of the plan for the rapid restoration of schools. The Office of the President, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and local authorities, created a list of 74 high-priority institutions in need of immediate restoration. The parties also discussed the issue of equipping schools and preschool institutions with means of fire safety and arranging shelters. Another topic of discussion was school buses to ensure transportation of students and teachers in the west of Ukraine. The available number of school buses is insufficient, part of the fleet was transferred to the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. About 3,000 buses are needed.
In addition, the parties discussed educational and cultural projects for Ukrainians who became forced immigrants in the EU.
It was stated that children from Ukraine in the European Union need to study the Ukrainian language and literature, the history of Ukraine in their temporary European schools. The Government of Ukraine helps develop educational materials and provides them to partners. At the same time, educational institutions will need additional funding for high-quality teaching of Ukrainian subjects in schools, organization of groups, additional classes, clubs and weekend schools.
Olena Zelenska said that the "Ukrainian Bookshelf" project is being implemented in the EU countries on her initiative to distribute books in the Ukrainian language in the original and translations in the world's leading libraries. In total, "Ukrainian bookshelves" were opened in 18 countries: Austria, Türkiye, Lithuania, Slovakia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Latvia, Finland, Jordan, Croatia, Lebanon, Japan, Belgium, Albania, Spain.
For his part, Margaritis Schinas said: "Ukrainian children can and should study in Europe, but they should use their knowledge to rebuild Ukraine. And everything they learn and acquire in Europe, they should invest in the reconstruction of Ukraine."
Olena Zelenska discussed the medical evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians abroad with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. About 1,200 patients from Ukraine were sent for treatment to EU member states.
They also discussed the issue of supporting Ukraine's capabilities in the field of prosthetics for those who have lost limbs, and the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, which is being launched in Ukraine. They also touched upon the issue of psychological rehabilitation of children from hot spots.
"We understand the extreme importance for the European community of studying the Ukrainian trauma caused by the terrible war. Detailed understanding and forecasting of the consequences, necessary preventive steps, research of the impact on social and economic indicators both in Ukraine and in European countries - the European Commission could become a leading institution in the implementation of such an ambitious and important research project to study the impact of this war on society and economy in Ukraine and around the world, its traumatic consequences and ways to overcome these traumas," Olena Zelenska is convinced.
During the visit, the First Lady also held a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. Olena Zelenska thanked her for visiting Ukraine in April, after the de-occupation of the Kyiv region.
"This became a powerful signal for Ukrainians that they are not alone and Europe will support us and will not allow the destruction of our state and our people. This is not only a sign of support, but also a clear signal that Ukraine, together with the democratic world, will win this war," said the First Lady.
She also emphasized the importance of the debate on the human rights violations in the context of forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians and forced adaptation of Ukrainian children in Russia, scheduled for September 14 in the European Parliament.
"The situation of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, including children from specialized institutions who were forcibly relocated or deported by the aggressor state to its territory in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law is one of the most sensitive topics for our society," said Olena Zelenska.
The President's wife also discussed the topic of forcibly deported Ukrainians, including children, with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić who also visited the de-occupied Kyiv region in May 2022.
"We appreciate the efforts of the Council of Europe to implement the project "Protection of Children's Rights in Ukraine". But this is not enough. We need the real help of international partners in returning kidnapped children who ended up on the territory of the Russian Federation unaccompanied by their parents to Ukraine," said the President's wife.
Discussions began on the topic of creating a special tribunal to punish the crime of aggression against Ukraine and a compensation mechanism for reparation of damages caused by aggression.
"The authority of the Council of Europe as a leading international organization in matters of human rights protection is universally recognized. We very much hope that the Council of Europe will once again prove its leading role in the protection of human rights and make an appropriate decision in matters of responsibility for the crime of aggression," said the First Lady.