Thank you very much Mr President,
And allow me, first of all, to convey my condolences to the families of the officers that died in the helicopter crash last night, a very tragic accident.
Mr President, dear Klaus,
I am here today to thank you and the warm-hearted Romanian people for welcoming with open arms people fleeing the war in Ukraine. In this dark hour, our unity and our solidarity with Ukraine and the victims of this atrocious war offer some light. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing from Putin’s bombs. They are leaving their homes and their lives behind. Sometimes, marching long hours in the snow, with young children, to reach safety in the European Union.
At least 1 million people left Ukraine so far and have crossed our borders. And Romania has welcomed almost 150,000 people and provided them with food and shelter. Romanians have given such a moving example to the world. As the war started, Romanians were rushing in droves to the Vama Siret crossing point to welcome refugees with food, water, blankets and baby milk. People are opening their homes for families. They are organising collections and fund-raising on social media. Romania has really stepped up to welcome the refugees and I really thank you for that. But Romania is not only welcoming the refugees, it is also helping their neighbours, like Moldova. You provided electricity generators, for example, which is extremely important for Moldova. Romania provided medicines to Ukraine. You are a shining example of European solidarity and I really want to commend and thank you for that.
The European Union as a whole stands by the people fleeing this war. First, we will make sure that we offer them quick and effective protection. This is why, yesterday, the European Commission proposed to activate the temporary protection mechanism. That means that we can provide to the Ukrainian people fleeing the war protection with residency rights, access to work and to housing. And I think that this is not only an act of compassion in times of war. This is also our moral duty, as Europeans. In parallel, we have issued guidelines for border management. This is to simplify formalities at the borders and thus enable people to get a shelter more rapidly.
Second, we are providing humanitarian support to deal with the consequences of this war, both inside the country and for neighbouring countries, and refugees. We will deploy at least EUR 500 million from the EU budget in humanitarian assistance. And, of course, more will come, as we need to brace for devastating consequences of this atrocious war. We are establishing with you, with Romania, a civil protection hub for Ukraine. I am really grateful for that. This is outstanding because this helps us to direct assistance that we receive from all over Europe, here in Romania, to the specific border crossing points. So many thanks for that. This is an enormous help. We are also delivering assistance to Moldova, which has, indeed, a large number of refugees coming from Ukraine. Moldova needs shelter capacity, medical aid and energy supplies. And we are providing that with our Member States. And you are at the forefront, here, with the ones who are helping. Many thanks for that.
We will always remember the determination and the bravery of the people of Ukraine. They are an inspiration to all of us. And likewise, we will never forget the solidarity of the Romanian people in these critical times. In addition to our unwavering support for Ukraine, we are responding with strong sanctions against the Russian leadership. Our aim is to cut off the Kremlin’s capacity to wage war on its neighbours. That is why we introduced sweeping sanctions, at unprecedented scale. These sanctions are also applied by our allies and partners around the world. The three waves of sanctions we introduced are already having an impact on the Russian economy and therefore Putin’s war effort. And we will take additional steps, if the situation deteriorates on the ground. At the same time, we are preparing in case of retaliation. In particular, we are working to diversify our energy supplies – we discussed it. We are, indeed, increasing our supplies of LNG gas to ensure that we have enough through this heating season. And we are doubling down on renewables, which are the smartest and the cleanest solution to create independence from Russian energy sources. We need to get independent from Russian gas, oil and coal. Our resolve to go forward in this case is stronger than ever.
Many thanks again for hosting us here with the civil protection hub. Many thanks again for what you are doing. It is wonderful to be here.