Highlights from UWC President’s visit to Spain and Portugal

#UWC news
March 25,2024 551
Highlights from UWC President’s visit to Spain and Portugal

Paul Grod, the President of the Ukrainian World Congress, conducted formal visits to Spain and Portugal, starting in Lisbon on March 9, then moving on to Porto, Madrid, and wrapping up in Barcelona. His agenda included meetings with government officials, members of the European Parliament, diplomats, and local authorities. Additionally, Paul Grod met with the Ukrainian communities in these countries. These meetings were focused on bolstering international support for Ukraine and aligning efforts to amplify military aid.

Discussions about military aid for Ukraine occurred in a meeting between UWC President Paul Grod and Spain’s General Director of Defence Policy, Lieutenant General Fernando López del Pozo, at the Spanish Ministry of Defense. 

Grod thanked Spain for its military support and solidarity with Ukraine, highlighting the ongoing need for military aid to achieve a fair peace and secure Victory in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Additionally, they talked about backing Ukraine’s bid to join NATO at the upcoming Washington summit.European integration of Ukraine was another important topic of the visit. The UWC President had a productive and amicable meeting with Leopoldo López Gil, Spain’s MEP, at the Representative Office of the European Commission in Madrid. A constructive conversation took place in a friendly atmosphere. The parties discussed ongoing support for Ukraine’s EU membership, the enforcement of the European Parliament’s resolutions and sanctions against Russia, and tackling the immediate challenges Europe faces due to Russian disinformation and hybrid aggression.

“We want to express special thanks to the Member of the European Parliament from Spain, Leopoldo López Gil, for joining us. The Ukrainian community was represented at the meeting by Liliya Mykolayiv Kmit and Yuri Chopyk,” wrote the Ukrainian organization “Conucraina.”

In Barcelona, Paul Grod met with Sergi Barrera, the Head of the European Parliament Liaison Office in Barcelona, and Manuel Szapiro,  the Director of the European Commission Representation in Barcelona. 

The European representatives commended Ukraine’s progress towards EU integration and acknowledged the efforts of the Ukrainian diaspora. There were also discussions focused on joint efforts to counter Russian disinformation in the EU and Latin America. They also talked about extending protection and social security measures for Ukrainian refugees forced to flee beyond March 2025.

The UWC President met with Mireya Mata Solsona, the Director General for Equality and the Protection of Women in the Government of Catalonia. During this meeting, representatives from UWC member organizations, including “KRAI” and the Federation of Ukrainian Communities of Spain, showcased their projects and explored opportunities for future collaboration. Paul Grod expressed appreciation for the support extended to Ukrainian women who, facing relentless Russian rocket attacks, have been compelled to flee with their children to seek refuge in Catalonia.

During his visit, Paul Grod engaged in discussions with Ukrainian diplomats. In a meeting with Serhii Pohoreltsev, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Spain, the UWC President focused on political strategies and ways to rally Spanish politicians’ support for Ukraine. He also had a productive meeting with Artem Vorobyov, the Consul General of Ukraine in Barcelona.

The powerful efforts of Ukrainian organizations, especially the Federation of Associations of Ukrainians in Spain led by Mykhaylo Petrunyak, have been frequently acknowledged.

While in Portugal, Paul Grod met with Maryna Mykhailenko, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Portugal, and Diogo Leão, the Chairman of the Portugal-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group. Paul Grod extended heartfelt thanks to the Ambassador and the Portuguese Parliament and citizens for their unwavering support of Ukraine amidst its relentless fight against genocidal Russian aggression.

A productive and meaningful discussion took place between UWC President and Madrid city authorities. During his visit to the Spanish capital, Paul Grod discussed ways to support Ukrainian war refugees. Following these talks, the Mayor’s Office of Madrid has shown a willingness to assist in securing locations for Ukrainian organizations and possibly establish a cultural center in the city.

Paul Grod held a meeting with the Government of Catalonia, during which additional support for Ukrainian refugees was discussed, including social and cultural support.

In Lisbon, UWC President and Pavlo Sadokha, UWC Vice President and President of the Union of Ukrainians in Portugal, participated in a liturgy in support of Ukraine by Patriarch Rui Valério of Lisbon and Bishop Sus.

During a meeting after the liturgy with the patriarch, Paul Grod called upon his holiness Francis to support the people of Ukraine, by clearly calling Russia, the aggressor and Ukraine the victim. The patriarch was clear in his sermon in condemning Russian aggression.

Spanish and foreign media actively reported on the visit of the UWC President. During his visit to Portugal, Paul Grod engaged in a meaningful dialogue with SAPO 24 – a Portuguese state news agency that broadcasts news throughout the Portuguese-speaking world. Grod emphasized that preserving Ukrainian identity abroad by learning the Ukrainian language, mastering Ukrainian education, and staying in a Ukrainian-speaking environment is a key condition for forced refugees to return to Ukraine after Victory.

UWC President Paul Grod, in an interview with the Spanish media outlet elPeriodico, stated that the West will be engaged in war if Ukraine does not win. The discussion also covered various topics such as Spain’s support for Ukraine, the formation of an International War Crimes Tribunal to address Russian war crimes, the much-needed and urgent supply of weapons to Ukraine, post-war reconstruction, and U.S. elections. Additionally, Grod highlighted the importance of maintaining the Ukrainian diaspora’s identity in Spain and the significance of Ukrainians returning to their homeland for reconstruction efforts post-victory.

Paul Grod’s visit to Spain and Portugal took place against the backdrop of pro-Ukrainian actions in these countries.  On March 10, in Lisbon, Paul Grod joined the celebration of Taras Shevchenko’s 210th birthday anniversary. Paul Grod also stood in solidarity with Ukrainian activists at the weekly “Human Chain” rally in a bustling Lisbon square, highlighting the significance of continually raising awareness about Russia’s harrowing war in Ukraine.

Ukrainians in Spain also rallied. Addressing the crowd in central Madrid, Paul Grod expressed his gratitude to the attendees, urging them to stay united and to foster a strong Ukrainian community.

Highlighting the significance of maintaining Ukrainian identity and culture, Paul Grod stated, “We have to fight for independence for years. For this, we need the next generations of conscious Ukrainians. To do this, we must build the Ukrainian world from the cradle to the grave and conscious communities for many generations.”

The UWC President also showed solidarity with Ukrainian activists in central Madrid, who dedicate their evenings after work and their weekends to sharing the truth about Russia’s war against Ukraine and collecting funds for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Paul Grod attended the screening of the “20 Days in Mariupol” documentary in Barcelona. In his address to the audience, he highlighted the crucial need for unity among Ukrainians globally. The film – a poignant portrayal that brought Ukraine an Oscar – drew attention from various dignitaries, including European Commission representatives, members of the international and community organizations, diplomats, and government officials.
The meeting of the Ukrainian  community with the UWC President  took place at the Nove Dzherelo Saturday School in Barcelona.

Additionally, the Ukrainian World Congress extends heartfelt thanks to the Ukrainian communities and organizations in Spain and Portugal for their relentless efforts in supporting Ukraine and advocating for Ukraine’s interests abroad.

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