EU speakers to condemn invasion of Ukraine, stress role of EU enlargement

Brdo pri Kranju – Slovenian Speaker Igor Zorčič said that EU parliamentary speakers will condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand an immediate end to the war as they meet for a conference at Brdo pri Kranju on Monday. He also urged facilitated EU enlargement as he spoke to the press before the start of the two-day event.

As the conference is taking place in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, it will be an opportunity to show unity with Ukraine and express support for democracy, peace and the rule of law, said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola as she addressed the press together with her two co-hosts of the conference, Zorčič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca.

This is the first time after 2019 that EU speakers are meeting in person and Zorčič sees the meeting to be important for several reasons: it will not only “condemn Russia’s brutal occupation of Ukraine but also underline the role of the EU having a credible enlargement policy, including on the Western Balkans.”

Enlargement has to be accelerated because it is a condition for a stable, safe and democratic Europe, said Zorčič, speaker of the lower chamber of Slovenian parliament.

Metsola pointed to a resolution the European Parliament had adopted on Ukraine, stressing that a large majority of MEPs acknowledged Ukraine’s EU prospect to become a candidate as soon as possible. We also want to help the refugees, and make sure the adopted sanctions lead to peace and the end of war as soon as possible, she said.

Kovšca, the president of the upper chamber of Slovenian parliament, said that what countries had learnt from the Covid crisis will help them respond to emergencies such as the war on the EU doorstep more effectively, responsibly and with a higher degree of unity.

Answering a question from the press, Zorčič said that PM Janez Janša’s 15 March visit to Kyiv was a good gesture, encouragement and political support for Ukraine.

But he believes the government’s decision to send a charge d’affaires to Kyiv should be discussed by the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee even if this is not required by law.

Metsola agreed that diplomatic presence was needed in Kyiv but safety must be secured. Our message must be clear – we mustn’t turn our back on the Ukrainian partners.

The two-day conference is the largest international event on the Slovenia parliament’s calendar this year. It brings together 39 speakers and deputy speakers and other officials from 30 countries. Serbia is not taking part.