EU should give Ukraine tanks: EU Parliament leader

EU should give Ukraine tanks: EU Parliament leader


The European Union should supply tanks to Ukraine and speed up the process for the country to join the bloc, European Parliament spokeswoman Roberta Metsola told AFP on Wednesday.

The centre-right Maltese official said she would take the message to EU leaders at a summit in Prague on Friday.

Ukrainians “need weapons with which to fight in order to retake their territory, and that means, for example, Leopard II tanks, which several member states have,” Metsola said in an interview during the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

Kyiv has long requested deliveries of German-designed Leopard II tanks. But Berlin has not agreed, preferring such a transfer to be part of a broader deal between Western allies.

Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and non-EU members Norway, Switzerland and Turkey together own about 2,000 of these tanks, according to an EU official.

Metsola, who became the first head of an EU institution to visit Kyiv in April, said countries willing to hand in tanks would be compensated from an EU fund, the European Peace Facility, worth €2.5 billion ($2.5 billion). US dollars) provided for Ukraine military purchases.

“I think these are discussions that we need to have now, especially as we see Russia escalating, but also on the other hand when we see Ukraine successfully ousting the Russians,” she said.

Several EU countries fear larger donations from their arsenals could jeopardize their own national defense capabilities.

However, Metsola maintained that deliveries of Leopard tanks would “not materially affect” each country’s overall readiness.

– Ukraine’s EU application –

The Speaker of Parliament also reiterated her call for Ukraine’s “accelerated” accession to the European Union.

Kyiv was granted candidate status to start this process in June, but the review and analysis phases usually take years, and Metsola declined to predict how long it might take in Ukraine’s case.

But she said: “We have a country that has shown us its intent and overwhelming willingness to join, exceeding expectations and achieving goals that would have taken other countries months or years to achieve.”

She also said Moldova, which was granted candidate status at the same time as Kyiv and which is vulnerable to Russia’s expansionism due to a Moscow-backed breakaway territory within its borders, must not be forgotten.

Albania and North Macedonia, which are further along the path to EU membership, would need additional attention, otherwise “these countries might look elsewhere,” she warned.

Friday’s EU summit in Prague will be preceded on Thursday by a broader summit that will establish a “European Political Community” with Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and North Macedonia among 44 countries represented.

Metsola stressed that the meeting, an idea of ??French President Emmanuel Macron, “will not replace the enlargement process”.

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