CoFoE: We Need to Restore Peace and Punish Russia, MEPs Concur

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Illustration picture (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 19 (TASR) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought an urgent need to restore peace on the old continent, and the European Union must take further steps to force Moscow to end its aggression, MEPs Lucia Duris Nicholsonova and Ivan Stefanec have concurred in a discussion on TASR TV.

In this connection, Duris Nicholsonova, who is chair of the EP Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, stressed the need to adopt the sixth package of sanctions. This should contain what experts have called for.

“If Russia is to bleed financially, we should stop Russian gas and oil imports, as on one hand we are arming Ukraine, but on the other we are sending huge amounts of money to Moscow,” said Duris Nicholsonova. According to her, Europe sends a “billion [euros]” to Moscow daily for energy raw materials, and it is well known “that this is the money that allows [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to continue the aggression and even step it up”.

In this context, the Slovak MEP stated that “many voices” from her political faction Renew Europe are also calling for the European Union to tighten up its steps against Russia.

“This tightening is also leading to a disconnection from Russian gas and oil,” said Duris Nicholsonova. She noted that cutting off supplies of Russian raw materials “isn’t easy” but possible, as shown by the example of Lithuania, which stopped importing Russian gas in early April. However, the European Union will have to invest more in “alternative energy sources”, she added.

Meanwhile, Stefanec admitted that the EU hasn’t found itself in such a difficult geopolitical situation before. “Until now, we were addressing various challenges, but we’ve never addressed the need to restore peace on the European continent,” he said.

According to him, the European Union’s reaction to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine was “fast and adequate”. He noted that the Union immediately condemned the aggression and that the European Parliament agreed that Ukraine deserved to be a candidate country. “This is great political support,” said Stefanec.

Stefanec, who is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) faction, praised the economic aid approved by the EU. In connection with helping people fleeing the war, Stefanec highlighted the granting of “refugee status to Ukrainians” that opened the door to free health care for refugees and access to education for their children. “They are mostly women and children” fleeing the war in Ukraine. Therefore, he views it as important to “integrate them into society faster”. In this context, he emphasised the need to educate children at Slovak schools.

The MEP highlighted the fact that citizens of Slovakia themselves are helping Ukrainian refugees as well, and he expressed “many thanks” to them for that.

Stefanec also praised the approval of the Lex Ukraine legislative package, which has facilitated the refugees’ stay in Slovakia and at the same time reacted to the challenges arising in connection with the refugee wave.