Address by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski at the extraordinary G7 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

I would like to begin by sharing my sympathy, support and solidarity with Minister Leshchenko, and with the people of Ukraine.

In my home country of Poland, we say: “Our farmers feed us and defend us”. This refers to our historic struggles for freedom and the role played by Polish farmers and peasants in this struggle. Today, we can say much the same about the farmers of Ukraine, as they defend their land and their people.

I would like to extend Mr Leshchenko the offer of a bilateral call, at any available opportunity, to discuss the situation for Ukrainian farmers and agriculture on the ground, and discuss what can be done in my capacity as European Commissioner for Agriculture.

Mr Leshchenko, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome yesterday’s statement by the European Council, reaffirming EU solidarity with Ukraine and supporting Ukraine in its path towards European Union membership.

The European Union is a family of nations founded on the principles of peace and sovereignty.

The unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine is a violation of these principles, a violation of international law, and a violation of the fundamental rights of the Ukrainian people.

The European Union stands with the people of Ukraine. And we do so with actions, not just with words.

We have put unprecedented sanctions into place, and continue to enhance them with each passing week.

At the same time, the EU and its Member States are providing a safe harbour for millions of civilians, mainly women and children, fleeing the combat zone. My own country of Poland has been at the forefront here. We have welcomed, and will continue to welcome, the people of Ukraine with open arms.

As you know, Ukraine has been known as the breadbasket of Europe and the implications of Russia’s reckless actions on food security are already being felt in Ukraine, Europe, and the wider world.

First and foremost, the European Union will continue to work with Ukrainian authorities, UN agencies, and non-governmental organisations to provide financial and humanitarian assistance to counteract food shortages. This must be our priority.

We must also face the impact of the war on the international agri-food system. Even last year, Ukraine and Russia were the two major exporters of grains and oilseeds at a global level, representing, for instance, about 30% of wheat exports worldwide.

The situation for commodities such as sunflower-based products may be even more challenging, since the two countries provide almost 80% of the global trade therein.

No wonder then that prices are reacting very strongly already, approaching historic levels.

I support the intervention of Minister Özdemir in relation to the mandate of the FAO and I encourage the FAO to come forward with regular information and updates on the global food system.

We as the G7 must also join forces and help to resolve this crisis. We must do so in a rapid and decisive manner.

We need to help Ukraine resume its valued place in the international agri-food system. We also need to ensure that the global agri-food system, still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, is not forced to endure another major systemic shock.

If we do not act strongly and sufficiently, it will be our most vulnerable who will face the greatest suffering.

I hope that the statement we adopt today will represent a first step on the path towards restoring peace for Ukraine, restoring its vital role in our global food system, and restoring its rightful place in our family of peaceful and sovereign nations.

Thank you.


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