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Ukraine Is Europe

The European Parliament is thinking about the future, it wants to prepare for the liberation of Ukraine and its accession to the European Union.

A Column by Roberta Metsola, President of The European Parliament

On February 24, 2022, the world as we knew it was completely turned upside down. That day, the lives of millions of Ukrainians were shattered, and have not returned to normal since. Many of them had to give up everything in an instant. Eight million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the European Union, while six million people, that is to say almost half of the Belgian population, are displaced in their own country.

This war has also shaken the world of us all, we who witness the brutality, the injustice, the horror, the deliberate violations of international law and human rights, the war crimes which, a year later continue to be committed on the territory of sovereign Ukraine.

We all want peace, Ukrainians more than anyone. The whole European idea is built on peace, but there can be no peace without freedom and justice.

Just two weeks ago, President Zelensky addressed the European Parliament. In his speech, he painted a picture of a Europe based on law, values, equality and fairness, a Europe where Ukraine is unquestionably at home. “Conversely,” he continued, “the Kremlin is doing everything possible to undermine European values.”

This is why we will continue to support Ukraine: its people depend on it, Europe depends on it, peace depends on it. We stand with the countless families who have lost everything. We stand with the Ukrainian Defense Forces who fight for freedom, for democracy and for a rules-based world order. We stand with those who fight for us.

The European Parliament therefore calls for the creation of a special tribunal to bring to justice all those responsible for war crimes, imprescriptible crimes to which we cannot turn a blind eye.

The European Union must also continue to impose sanctions on Russia, persons and entities that support the illegal war waged by Vladimir Putin. We must put pressure on third countries and private companies that maintain their relations with the Kremlin. The status quo with Russia is unthinkable.

The European Parliament is thinking about the future, it wants to prepare for the liberation of Ukraine and its accession to the European Union. Each candidate country is following its own path to membership, but we need to start negotiations with Ukraine as soon as possible. The prospect of membership will not only provide moral and symbolic support, but also help in the reconstruction of liberated Ukraine.

It will not only be a matter of a material reconstruction, which will moreover be titanic. The administration, justice and governance system will also have to be rebuilt. The task will be colossal: difficult reforms, profound changes and radical decisions will be necessary.

Ukraine will be able to benefit from the support of the European Parliament and numerous Union programmes. If the past year has proven one thing, however, it is that the Ukrainian people are an example of courage and resilience who bravely fight against adversity. The Ukrainians deserve our unconditional support. We are united because Ukraine is Europe and Europe is Ukraine.

This article is originally published on lalibre.be

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