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Ukraine proves that Europe's way of life is worth a cost, EU Parliament head says

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola talks during a demonstration in front of European Parliament on Tuesday, after a special plenary session on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels.
John Thys
/
AFP via Getty Images
President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola talks during a demonstration in front of European Parliament on Tuesday, after a special plenary session on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

The European Union has officially welcomed Ukraine's application to join, with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola saying the EU will work with Ukraine toward that goal.

"We must face the future together," Metsola said.

"The message from Europe is clear: We will stand up. We will not look away when those fighting in the streets for our values face down Putin's massive war machine," said Metsola, a Maltese politician who was elected as the Parliament's president in January.

Metsola spoke at the start of a special plenary session on Russia's wide-scale invasion of Ukraine. Addressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — who received a standing ovation when he later appeared by video link — the parliament president extended her gratitude.

"Mr. President, thank you for showing the world what it means to stand up," she said.

Metsola pointed out several instances of bravery and resistance shown by Ukrainians.

"They showed the world that our way of life is worth defending. It is worth a cost." She added, "For us, for the next generation, for all those in Ukraine and around the world who believe in Europe and in our way. For all those who want to be free."

"This must be our 'whatever it takes' moment," she said, noting the sanctions the EU has enacted, as well as the moves by Ukraine's neighbors to help people who are fleeing violence.

Metsola also applauded European countries sending arms and aid to Ukraine, as well as efforts to disengage from Russian oligarchs and propaganda.

Looking to the future, Metsola laid out four goals for the EU:

  • Europe must end its reliance on "Kremlin gas."
  • Russian oligarchs can no longer "hide behind a veneer of respectability."
  • Europe must invest more in its own defense and security.
  • The EU "must fight the Kremlin's disinformation campaign."
  • Singling out social media and big tech companies, Metsola said they should take their responsibilities seriously, adding that it's not tenable to insist on neutrality when the choice is "between the fire and the fire brigade."

    Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.