Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President in Athens.
This came as both leaders went to Athens, Greece for The Ukraine-Balkans Summit.
During the meeting, Zelenskyy thanked the European Commission President for her efforts in normalising Ukraine’s agricultural exports and transit.
“It is important to restore full-fledged duty-free trade between Ukraine and the EU and ensure free access of Ukrainian agricultural exports to the entire territory of the EU single market,” Zelenskyy said.
“I expect that on September 15, any restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural products in the EU will be lifted,” he added.
The European Union has temporarily banned some Ukrainian agricultural exports till September 15, 2023, after Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia complained that cheap agricultural products from Ukraine were hurting their domestic produce.
The parties also discussed in detail alternative routes for the “grain corridor” after Russia’s blocking of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Particular attention was paid to security and financial aspects, as well as ship insurance.
In addition, Zelenskyy thanked Ursula von der Leyen for the next tranche of assistance worth EUR 1.5 billion. The parties discussed the revision of the IMF program for Ukraine.
The leaders also assessed Ukraine’s progress in implementing the seven recommendations of the European Commission and further steps in this direction.
“We aim to achieve maximum results in the implementation of the recommendations of the European Commission.
“We expect a positive assessment in the report within the enlargement package in October and a decision of the EU member states to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union in 2023.”Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Moreover, Zelenskyy and Ursula von der Leyen coordinated positions on the Peace Formula and the preparation of the Global Peace Summit.
Zelenskyy Meets Balkan Leaders
Ursula von der Leyen is not the only person Zelenskyy held talks with. He met the leaders of Serbia, Moldova as well as Croatia on the sidelines of the Ukraine-Balkans Summit held in Athens, Greece.
In Zelenskyy’s meeting with Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, the leaders noted that mutual support for territorial integrity and sovereignty was an important part of the partnership between their countries.
Zelenskyy thanked Vučić for the humanitarian assistance provided by Serbia to the Ukrainian people and informed him about the situation on the battlefield and the actions of the Ukrainian army.
The leaders deliberated on the most important issues of regional security, bilateral relations and prospects for their development. They also focused on common challenges on the path of Ukraine and Serbia to EU membership.
Pressing issues of bilateral cooperation, regional security, joint opposition to the Kremlin’s aggressive policy and Russian hybrid influence were discussed when Zelenskyy held talks with Maia Sandu, President of the Republic of Moldova.
Both Presidents discussed cooperation between the two countries in creating alternative routes for exporting Ukrainian grain after Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The Presidents also focused on the important issue of the integration of Ukraine and Moldova into the European Union and common challenges along the path.
Meeting with Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Andrej Plenković, Zelenskyy talked about the situation on the battlefield, the offensive steps of the Ukrainian army and the problems it faces.
He also briefed Plenković on preparing the Ukrainian power system and air defense for the autumn-winter period.
Zelenskyy thanked Croatia for preparing a new defense package for Ukraine, which will contain important components. The parties discussed the further development of defense cooperation between the two states.
Zelenskyy also met Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski as well President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović.