Whatever it takes: Metsola welcomes Ukraine’s EU application, insists passport sales to Russians should stop
“This is an outrageous invasion of a sovereign state. On behalf of the European Parliament, I condemn the Russian aggression in the strongest terms and express my solidarity to all those who are suffering”, Metsola said to a thunderous applause. “We will stand up to this aggression”, the EP President said, promising support to the ICC for an investigations into war crimes. “We will hold Putin and Lukashenko accountable”.
“Thank you for showing the world what it means to standup. Thank you for reminding us of the dangerous of complacency”, she told President Zelinsky.
Metsola said that she welcomed Ukraine’s application for EU candidate country status “and we will work towards that goal, because we will and we must face the future together.” Addressing the Ukrainian president, she said “when you look to this European Parliament, you will always find an ally, a space to address Europe and the world. And always, always a friend.” In contrast, she said no representative is welcome in the house of democracy. “I will seek a ban on any representative of the Kremlin from entering these premises because aggressors and warmongers have no place in the house of democracy”.
Metsola said that the European response was on display over the past days. This must be “whatever it takes moment”.
“We have implemented a series of unprecedented, massive sanctions. We have gone further, and we will provided much needed weapons to Ukraine. Oligarchs private jets are no longer welcome in our skies. Russia has been disconnected from the SWIFT system. We have banned Russian propoganda. Sports has also taken a strong stand. Europe stands ready to go further still. We recognise Ukraine’s European perspective. We welcome the President’s application towards candidate status”, Metsola said.
Metsola indicated four principles for the future:
– Europe can no longer remain dependent on Kremlin gas. We need to diversify our energy mix so as not to remain dependent on autocrats.
– Europe can no longer welcome Russian cash and expect there are no strings attached. Russian superyachts should find no harbour in Europe, and Russian oligarchs should not be administering sport clubs. No passports should be sold to Russian oligarchs.
– Investment in our defence must match our rhetoric. Europe must have a real security and defence Union. It is possible and desirable, and necessary.
– We must fight the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign. Tech companies should take their responsibility – there is no neutrality between the fire and fire brigade.
Zelenskyy addresses EP
Ukrainian President said that this is a fight for freedom. “We are dealing with killed people, real lives. We are losing lives for values and the desire to be free as we are. We are giving out our strongest people to fight for these values. We will overcome everyone. I am convinced”. He said that dozens were killed just this morning with a missile strike on Freedom square.
In a heartfelt address, he said that “our people are very much motivated — very much so — we are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for life, for our life, and now, we’re fighting for survival. And this is the highest of all motivations.”
“We are fighting to be equal members of Europe,” Zelenskiy said in Ukrainian in a speech translated into English by an interpreter who spoke through tears.
“Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans, and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness,” he said. “The EU will be much stronger with us.”
EU Council President takes the stage
EU Council President Charles Michel said that the challenge is a very serious one, requiring very serious decisions. Blood and war have reached European soil once again. This is an unjustified and unprovoked war. “This is because you, people of Ukraine, have opted for freedom”. He said that it is not just the Ukraine which is under attack, but international law, human rights and democracy. This is geo-political terrorism”, he said to applause by lawmakers. “It is our duty to rise to this historic moment”.
He said that military resources will be delivered to Ukraine, through the activation of the peace facility.
Michel said that Putin thought that he would break European unity and face inertia but “he was wrong”. Michel thought he would take Ukraine rapidly, but he was wrong, because the Ukrainian people are resisting bravely”.
Putin managed to unite Europe – von der Leyen
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine had had the effect of uniting countries against Russia.
“If Putin was seeking to divide the European Union, to weaken NATO, and to break the international community, he has achieved exactly the opposite,” von der Leyen told the EU Parliament, a blue and yellow ribbon pinned to her jacket.
Updated 1110 – The European Parliament has confirmed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address MEPs during today’s debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. EP President Roberta Metsola will open the debate at 12.30. President Zelenskyy and the Speaker of the Ukrainian Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk will then be invited to intervene remotely, if the situation allows them to do so.
MEPs will later today debate with Council and Commission Presidents Michel and von der Leyen and EU Foreign Policy chief Borrell Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and vote a related resolution.
The debate will take place from 12.30 to 14.30, and the announcement of the final vote on the draft resolution is scheduled for 16.45.
Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (comprising President Roberta Metsola and the leaders of Parliament’s political groups) decided on Thursday 24 February to hold an extraordinary plenary session in Brussels to assess the situation in Ukraine.
In a statement, they condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine in the strongest possible terms and called the invasion unjustified and illegal.
In a post on Twitter, the largest grouping in Parliament, the EPP Group, labeled Vladimir Putin as a ‘war criminal’.
The Socialists asked the European Council to support using the Temporary Protection Directive to help refugees arriving in the EU. Solidarity and unity are the only way forward, they said in a tweet.
Image via Jaume Duch – Spokesperson of the European Parliament.