The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès i Garcia, this morning reaffirmed the country’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people and assured that "Ukraine will always have an ally in Catalonia". "An ally to defend the recovery of full sovereignty, the recovery of full freedom, to defend democracy, human rights and the guarantee of peace and respond with the utmost solidarity to the humanitarian emergency", he declared.
He spoke these words upon welcoming Yaroslav Bozhko, acting as representative of the Ukrainian people who have been awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize 2022 for Freedom of Thought, to the Palau de la Generalitat this morning. Bozhko is also spokesperson for the Yellow Ribbon Civil Resistance Movement, which originated in the temporarily occupied city of Melitopol and encourages Ukrainians to resist and denounce the Russian occupation by painting blue and yellow ribbons and other Ukrainian symbols in public spaces.
Aragonès stressed that the meeting served to "reaffirm Catalonia's solidarity with the Ukrainian people" and, at the same time, "to highlight the shared commitment to continue defending the values of peace, democracy and human rights that define our peoples".
Coinciding with the first anniversary of the Russian occupation of Ukraine, the head of the Executive "vehemently" condemned the invasion of "a sovereign, democratic country committed to the values of Europeanism". "Catalonia joins the international call for an end to the hostilities by the Russian army and the necessary return to diplomatic relations between peoples", he declared, while reiterating the message of support for the eight million citizens who have had to leave their country.
Aragonès emphasised that during this year of war "Catalonia has been committed to Ukraine", through humanitarian aid and also "by taking in more than 21,500 people" displaced as a result of the conflict. "As long as the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory continues, we will continue this humanitarian work. And we will stand firm even afterwards. Offering support in the current crisis, but also in the subsequent reconstruction, in line with the European Union's commitment", the President declared. In this regard, the president stressed that in the coming weeks a new line of ordinary humanitarian aid will be launched that will take into account projects linked to the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
"Catalonia has a humanitarian vocation", Aragonès reiterated, and that is why in 2023 the government "has significantly increased its allocation to 45 million", for policies that offer support during humanitarian crises and that contribute to international cooperation. "We do it out of conviction, out of solidarity and because Catalonia has the will, the capabilities and the means to be useful and to contribute to responding to global challenges and emergencies such as the war in Ukraine, which concern us directly", he said.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu; the Consul of Ukraine in Barcelona, Artem Vorobyov, and the Head of the European Parliament Office in Barcelona, Sergi Barrera.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the European Union's highest award for human rights work. It was first awarded in 1988 to Nelson Mandela and Anatoli Marchenko.