Stable world is impossible without justice and punishment. France will help bring these about

Friday, 19 January 2024 — , Ambassador of France to Ukraine
Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine
Visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to France. Paris, 9 February 2023

European Pravda continues to publish the opinions of foreign ambassadors on Ukraine's prospects in 2024. We have invited diplomats representing very different countries and missions to express their views.

The vision of the challenges of 2024 has already been voiced by the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Katarína Mathernová, the Ambassador of Moldova, Valeriu Chiveri, and the Ambassador of Lithuania, Valdemaras Sarapinas.

It's time to give the floor to the diplomat, who represents the country who helped Ukraine finally obtained European prospects and candidate status while presiding over the EU.

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2024 began with a new campaign of Russian strikes on Ukraine, some of the most widespread since the outset of the war, causing huge damage and, sadly, more casualties.

This time of year, which should be a time for celebration, is a sharp reminder of the realities of this war, which is taking place both on the front and in the background, and which remains permanently in the hearts and minds of Ukrainians.

I have been French Ambassador to Ukraine for less than six months. I know that this is a very short time. But in Kyiv, time seems to have speeded up and I would like to share with you some of my impressions since I arrived.

I would like to express my utmost admiration for the resilience of the people of Ukraine over the past two years: it is impressive and deserves respect from us all. We can never emphasize enough Ukraine’s mammoth effort of conducting a war which was completely inflicted upon it by a merciless aggressor, and of speeding up a reform process of Ukrainian society as a whole and the very heart of the State, as it moves towards the European Union.

Progress has indeed been achieved and that was the whole purpose of the European Council’s historic decision on 14 December 2023 to open accession negotiations with Ukraine.

But now is not the time for congratulations and everyone here is acutely aware that 2024 is beginning with immense challenges.

But Ukraine is not alone. Ukraine has many friends. They are the countries which, like France, are deeply committed to complying with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

I would like to recall the words of the President of the French Republic: "Support from France and the French people is unshakeable and will be for the long term, for as long as it takes." And naturally, my first wish for the people of Ukraine is to achieve victory.

France firmly believes that Ukraine’s future is primarily European: since June 2022, my country has been supporting Ukraine’s progress towards the European Union.

Ukraine is part of our European family and is resolutely moving towards EU integration to occupy its rightful place.

The European Union is rightly viewed by Ukrainians as a driver for modernization, prosperity and security. Becoming an EU Member State is not simply a question of the Parliament adopting reforms. It is the choice to voluntarily agree to transfers of sovereignty to the benefit of the European Union, to better consolidate its independence and its sovereignty. It is the choice to take a number of norms, rules and constraints on board, to consolidate democracy and support freedom.

Thus, the EU integration process will be long, as it requires in-depth transformation, which will benefit the Ukrainian economy and democracy.

The key to the process resides in its ownership by all of the political and economic stakeholders, as well as by the citizens themselves. European integration is not only a matter to be dealt with by the Government or Parliament. It is a choice and a matter that concerns everyone.

Poll after poll shows Ukrainians’ growing appetite for the European Union.

This collective commitment is evidence for successful integration. This desire for Europe is one of their greatest strengths, and we, the Member States, draw upon that to support the integration process.

Similarly, this desire for Europe brings obligations for us Europeans too. We too must meet the challenge of Ukrainian integration and live up to your expectations, those of a people who remind us every day that freedom and sovereignty are precious assets for which, sadly, some pay with their lives.

But allow me to return to military aspects. Once again, 2023 highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers, their fierce fighting and their admirable courage.

I have only one observation: Ukraine is standing firm! Not only is Ukraine not retreating, but it is inflicting significant damage on Russia.

On its own, Ukraine opened a grain corridor in the Black Sea. This proves, should it be still necessary to do so, the reality of this war and the Russian regime’s boundless cynicism, preferring to sacrifice global food security for the fictitious military objectives of a war which it instigated and for which it is solely responsible.

Beyond this unquestionable success, it must be acknowledged that the Ukrainian armed forces required continuous, sustained support to maintain their war effort. 2024 will be critical.

As French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné underlined during his visit to Kyiv on 13 January, Ukraine is and will remain the priority of French foreign policy.

That was the reason for his visit to Ukraine, just a few hours after taking up his duties. France will continue providing support to the Ukrainian army. It has taken the lead of an international coalition within the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to work on enhancing the firepower of Ukrainian artillery.

The President of the French Republic has just announced the delivery of new long-range missiles to the Ukrainian army. Discussions among manufacturers are also underway to develop co-productions, including on Ukrainian territory.

This cooperation is fundamental for Ukraine: over the long term, it is providing it with all the military equipment it requires. It is also essential for the European Union: co-productions are a concrete example of our Union’s enhanced strategic autonomy.

Our support to Ukraine is an integral part of strengthening European defence.

Finally, truth and justice are essential to ensure lasting peace in Ukraine. The fight against impunity is a priority for France, which during 2024 will follow on from the previous year’s progress. France made specialised capabilities to identify victims to the International Crime Court with one sole objective: establishing the facts and moving towards the condemnation of the perpetrators.

This next visit by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, in Ukraine will see our relationship complete a number of steps and will materialise projects that France and Ukraine are building together. 

I will conclude by sharing what most struck me as soon as I arrived: the vitality of Ukrainian society. It is brimming with energy, it is vibrant and never gives up, whether it be civil society or soldiers on the front who are not giving an inch to Russia.

It has shown exemplary courage. For over ten years, it has been fighting to fundamentally change Ukraine, to make it freer, fairer and more democratic, a country where every citizen is respected with dignity.

The women and men of Ukraine can be proud of their achievements and their continued daily fight, which I sincerely commend.

France is standing alongside Ukraine, and Ukraine can rely on France.

Long live our Franco-Ukrainian friendship!

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