Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda urged the EU to continue supporting Ukraine in its fight for freedom and to keep its doors open to Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
Addressing MEPs in Strasbourg as part of the “This is Europe” debate series, Mr Nausėda shared his country’s experience towards independence and the long path to Europe, which in a way resembles Ukraine’s current fight for freedom. He highlighted Lithuania’s massive public support for Ukraine and that his country donates almost 1.5% of its GDP to Ukraine.
President Nausėda also thanked the European Parliament for its continued stand against Soviet occupation and its current active leadership in helping Ukraine. “I believe that today many European citizens understand that Ukraine's fight is also their fight”, he said. Russia’s crimes must be met with an appropriate response by setting up an international tribunal and frozen Russian assets must be used to rebuild Ukraine, he added.
“History shows that the most effective way to expand the area of peace, stability and prosperity in Europe has been and will be the enlargement of the EU”, said President Nausėda. He called on the EU to keep its doors open to Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, and supported Parliament’s wish to start Ukraine’s accession negotiations already this year.
President Nausėda also commended the EU on managing to overcome Russia’s energy blackmail. “The winter came and finished without anyone freezing in Europe”, he said, stressing that there are still some lessons to be learned from high energy prices. He advocated for more investment in green energy and alternative sources and presented Lithuania as an example, which managed to gain independent from Russia’s gas, oil and electricity.
Watch President’s Nausėda’s full speech here.
Reactions from MEPs
MEPs praised Lithuania for its leadership and exemplary support to Ukraine. For far too long politicians ignored alerts from their Baltic colleagues about Russia’s aggressive policy and now we have to pay the price, some MEPs said. They called for a strategy of sustainable peace that would see Putin’s Russia being defeated, European values expanded further east and Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia becoming part of EU by the end of this decade.
Some MEPs stressed the need to fight attacks on the rule of law and media freedom not only outside the EU, but also inside it. Commenting on EU energy independence, some MEPs asked for more use of renewable resources and to avoid jumping from one energy supply dictatorship to another one.
A recording of MEPs’ statements and President Nausėda closing remarks are available here.
This was the eight “This is Europe” debate to take place at the European Parliament. Previous iterations last year have featured Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (in March), Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (in May), Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin (in the first June plenary), Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković (in the second June plenary), Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (in July), Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (in September) and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob (in December).