The defiance, courage and strength of Ukraine epitomise what it means to be European - President Metsola addressed the Verkhovna Rada 


On Europe Day, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola was in Kyiv to celebrate the values of peace and unity with the people of Ukraine. In her address to the Verkhovna Rada, President Metsola reiterated the Parliament's support to Ukraine's European future.

Dear Mr Speaker, Dear Ruslan,
Dear members of the Verkhovna Rada,
Dear friends, 
Dear Europeans,

The European Union is a political project that is forged in crises. It is a project of hope, of liberty, of democracy. It is these values that Ukraine is defending on the battlefield. It is a project that Ukraine should form part of. A project that will be made stronger with Ukraine within it. 

And that aim is one that the European Parliament will continue to support. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

When I first addressed this great Parliament of Heroes, I underlined that Ukraine’s future is within the European Union. I reiterate that now. We were with you then, we are with you now and we will be with you for as long as it takes.

That is the best answer the world can give to the continued Russian aggression. Ukraine has made its European choice and Europe has made its Ukrainian choice. That is the true victory we will celebrate together every 9th of May. Today.

On this day, we celebrate Europe. And there is no better or more significant place to do that than here - where the spirit of Europe is present in your cities, in your villages and etched in the bravery of your people. 

The defiance of Ukraine, your courage, your strength - epitomises what it means to be European.  And I am so grateful to be with you in Kyiv again. 

It has been 806 days since Russia launched its illegal, unjustified and brutal war against your country. The scenes that we have seen of the destruction, of all the innocent lives lost, have been difficult to bear. But it has also been 806 days of Europe and the world witnessing your courage, resilience and determination in pushing back against the aggressor. As they say, it is often in our darkest moments that our true strength shines brightest.

Dear friends, 

When Europe and the world thinks of Ukraine, they think of heroes fighting against the odds, of David and Goliath. My job is to help you re-balance those odds. Europe will continue to play its part here. 

The first time I came to Kyiv was on the 1st of April 2022, the day you liberated the city of Bucha. I will never forget the image, the horror we uncovered together. But I will also never forget all the ordinary citizens turned heroes, risking their lives to help those in need, to rebuild what has been destroyed, and to stand up for the values that make us all European.  

We understand the sacrifice that you are making not just to defend your homes, your territory, and your people - but also to protect freedom, dignity and all the values that are at the core of what it means to be European. 

That is why the last time I was in this chamber I made three promises to you, promises that I am proud to say the European Union, the European Parliament, has delivered on.

In the past two years, we stood resolute and firm against Putin’s intimidation tactics, and cut our dependencies from Russia. We have adopted 13 packages of hard-hitting sanctions against Putin and his allies, and we have been working on the 14th package, which means that hundreds of billions of euros worth of Russian assets are now frozen in the EU. 

I promised that Europe would open up its borders, its homes and hearts to your families, your children, your loved ones, who were forced to flee. Today, Ukrainian people are building lives and livelihoods with access to jobs, housing, healthcare, social support and education in the EU, with many returning here. We said we would help you to rebuild your cities, your towns, your villages. The adoption of the 50 billion euro Ukraine Facility is our most recent tangible support for that. 

I also told you that you could count on me, on the European Parliament, to recognise Ukraine’s European aspirations and to support you as you make headway in your country’ integration into the EU. And here let me say, we are very proud of this, that it was the European Parliament what was the first EU institution to push for Ukraine to receive candidate status and for accession negotiations to start last year. We understood immediately, that this is just as much about stability for Ukraine as it is about strengthening the entire EU. It makes sense politically, economically, socially, geographically and strategically. And that is why the European Parliament will never tire of repeating, that Ukraine’s place is in the European Union. At its own pace, following its own path, but with a very, very clear destination. 

Mr Speaker, dear Ruslan, the last time we met we signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding confirming the strong and unique ties between our two Houses. In that way, the European Parliament has continued to provide tangible support to Verkhovna Rada including through a permanent European Parliament representation in Kyiv, which we will soon open

Nine days ago, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the largest single EU enlargement in the history of the European Union. Being a woman from one of those 10 countries, who so clearly remembers the painstaking reforms and the lengthy process of integration, I can tell you that it will not be easy. But I am confident that with the commitment you have and the record pace that you are making, I know that we will celebrate the same milestone anniversary of full EU membership for Ukraine together. 

Dear friends,

It is true that EU institutions and Member States have already provided a lot of political, financial, military and humanitarian assistance, but it is also true that more needs to be done. In this critical phase of war, international support with Ukraine must continue, and it must increase. Russia is not showing any signs of slowing down and neither can we. Russia will continue to do what it has been doing. And Europe must be ready to match the Kremlin’s level of threat. And, we will. We will. 

The Kremlin wants a different future that Ukraine in Europe. They see a world where history can be re-written, where spheres of influence exist again, where iron curtains are drawn closed, where might is right, and where personal liberty and dignity denied. With their actions, it is clear that Russia wants a return to a past we had consigned to history books. A past where Europe’s geographical integrity and Europe’s freedom to choose with whom to cooperate and how to integrate is called into question. For Russia, the real enemy is democracy, freedom and truth. This a past that we can never ever return to. Ever. And yet, it is what is at stake. 

That is why we need to deepen our resolve to bringing every single Ukrainian child back to their families, back to their own homes. Why we need to do more to cripple Putin’s war machine by closing any remaining loopholes in our sanctions regime. And why we need to intensify the delivery of the equipment and defence systems you need. Because valour alone is not enough. And courage cannot be our sole strategy for defence. 

To be clear: Europe will always stand for peace. Always. A real peace with dignity, with integrity, with liberty, with territorial sovereignty. And we know that there can never be anything about Ukraine, without Ukraine. I mentioned the return of Ukrainian children earlier, with that we also need an urgent focus on food security and the safety of nuclear plants. These are the building blocks of humanity. 

But we also need to be clear about what kind of peace we are talking about. As Chancellor Scholz once put it: “Peace without freedom is called oppression. Peace without justice is called dictatorship". This is Europe’s call to stand for real peace on this continent. And we must answer it.

Dear friends,

In a month’s time, the renewal of the institution that I have the responsibility of presiding over will be well underway as the last of the 400 million citizens in the European Union will be heading to the polls to elect a new European Parliament. Over the past months, I have visited many Member States alongside my colleagues, to speak to people - especially young people - to convince them not to take democracy for granted and to urge them to go out and vote. 

It is not an easy task. And it is one that is made much harder in many Member States to push forward disinformation, misinformation and propaganda coming from actors that are overtly or covertly hostile to the European project. Who would specifically target different sectors in society and our communities and sell false narratives about Europe in a manner that we have never seen in European elections before. It is a phenomenon that I know that your country and your institution, know well. One that I am sure our Parliament and those across the European Union have a lot to learn from you to counter it.

All this has made our job getting the European message across even more essential. But I now want to counter what I just said with a real life account. What I can tell you is that in every city, every town, every village that I have gone too, people, young and old have all asked me about Europe’s response to Ukraine. And in the last survey that was conducted by the European Parliament, citizens continue to signal their very strong support. 

That is why I remain convinced that European Union citizens will return a strong Parliament next month that will continue to stand resolutely by your side. 

As your anthem goes: The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished.
Shche ne vmerla Ukrayiny, ni slava, ni volya.

Long live democracy.
Long live freedom.
Long live Europe.
Slava Ukraini. 

You can read the President's speech in Ukrainian here.