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Tajani: awarding Sakharov Prize to the People of Ukraine proves EU is attentive

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Antonio Tajani, spoke this morning at the debate-meeting held at the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Convent Cloister of the Senate of the Republic for the awarding of the Sakharov Prize – the foremost honorary award conferred annually by the EU to human rights defenders – which this year went to the People of Ukraine.

Through this acknowledgement “I think that the European Parliament – Mr Tajani said – has proven once again how attentively it is following Ukraine, which is an EU candidate country. It is a signal to the people of Ukraine, who are probably facing the harshest winter in their recent history”. Indeed, the Russian army “is striking the civilian population, causing huge problems to millions of people who will have neither heating nor electricity. It is basically trying to use the winter to break the Ukrainian resistance”. In Tajani’s opinion, the conferral of the prize will make youths reflect on “what peace actually is, what values should underpin a society, liberty, freedom of speech and, for peoples, independence”.

The Minister, while pointing out that Italy has joined “the battle of freedom in favour of the independence” of Ukraine, also reasserted that “Italy is striving to support Ukraine, not only through military aid. We are also working on the future”. Yesterday, at the Paris Conference “we mainly talked about aid to the civilian population. Italy has already decided to allocate 10 more million euros” to support Ukraine. He also mentioned the material sent for reconstructing the electricity grid (over 50 tonnes of electrical material provided by Italian enterprises), as well as humanitarian aid, and announced that Italy “is ready to welcome more Ukrainians should they be forced to leave their country because of the freezing winter”.

Italy also plans to allocate funds for reconstruction: in order to do this, the Minister said, “we must do all we can to achieve peace, which does not mean the surrender of Ukraine. Peace means sitting at a table, on equal terms. We will support any kind of contact, any deal that can bring the war to an end”. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs – he added – is in touch with the Italian companies that want to be involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine, in order for it to be closer to the EU in the years to come, becoming an integrating part of the European Union”.