The EU will “walk side-by-side” with Ukraine as it marches toward membership in the bloc, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola pledged before Ukraine’s parliament.
Appearing via video link before the Rada, Metsola marked Ukraine’s first “Statehood Day” — a public holiday inaugurated last year to commemorate 30 years of independence from the Soviet Union. The day has taken on extra meaning this year amid the ravages of Russia’s war in the country.
“Today is symbolic not just for Ukraine and for Ukrainians, but for all of Europe,” Metsola said.
Metsola’s remarks came just over a month after the EU granted Ukraine candidate status — a key step toward membership. But Ukraine’s path to joining the 27-country bloc is still cloudy and likely to take years.
“Granting Ukraine candidate status on 23 June confirms our commitment to walking side-by-side towards your full membership into the EU,” Metsola said. “It may not be an easy road, but the European Parliament, your strongest advocate, is there for you to assist you on every step of the way.”
Ultimately, of course, the final decision on Ukraine’s EU membership will rest with every country in the bloc — not just the European Parliament.
Metsola was the first leader of a major EU institution to visit Ukraine after Russia’s war began, making the trip in April to promote the EU’s financial, military and humanitarian assistance to Kyiv. The Maltese politician has headed the European Parliament since January.
Earlier this week, the European Investment Bank also approved €1.59 billion in loans for Ukraine to help rebuild infrastructure and fund humanitarian aid.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy separately marked Ukraine’s Statehood Day in his own speech on Thursday, declaring that “Statehood Day is every day” as they defend the country from Russian aggression.
“All stages of the history of Ukrainian statehood can be described in one sentence: ‘We existed, exist and will exist,’” he said.