President Metsola welcomes Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

European Parliament, 2023European Parliament, 2023

We are here today on this historic occasion to welcome the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to the European Parliament.

This is an extraordinary moment, in extraordinary times. It has been almost one year since the brutal, illegal invasion of sovereign Ukraine by Russia.

In all that time, Mr President, your leadership has inspired your people and inspired every corner of the globe. When the world thinks of Ukraine they think of heroes fighting the odds, of David beating Goliath. They think of the icons of Snake Island, the warriors of Mariupol, the liberators of so many occupied towns and villages. Their names will be spoken of for generations.

Notwithstanding the bombs that fall every day, your grain continues to feed the world. When a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, you stood up and sent rescuers, equipment and expertise. That is real solidarity.

I am proud to say that this House of European Democracy, its members, our European Union – have always stood with you.

We understand that you are fighting not only for your values, but for ours. For those ideals that bind us as sisters and brothers. That make us, all, European.

Because Ukraine is Europe and your nation’s future is in the European Union.

We know the sacrifice your people have endured for Europe and we must honour it not only with words but with action:

With the political will to ensure easier trade and with the fastest possible accession process. With funds for your people, with help in reconstruction, with training for your troops. With military equipment and defence systems you need to win. And, now, States must consider, quickly, as a next step, providing long range systems and the jets you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted.

Our response must be proportional to the threat – and the threat is existential.

I grew up hearing my grandparents’ stories of my country’s last three fighter planes. When all seemed lost, when they had no ammunition, no food and no hope, all that remained were three barely functioning planes that they called Faith, Hope and Charity – named after what they were fighting for, after what was at stake. The planes meant one more day of liberty, just long enough for help to arrive. They meant peace.

You do not need to convince anyone here of how essential it is to support Ukraine. To back all those giving their lives. To support the values we preach with concrete measures. To ensure victory, real peace – based on your 10-point plan, accountability for those who committed war crimes and for the protection of freedom for all Ukrainians.

And I want to repeat the promise I made to you when we met in Kyiv last April: we have your back. We were with you then, we are with you now, we will be with you for as long as it takes.

Freedom will prevail. Peace will reign. You will win.

Slava Ukraini