European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has called on the European Union to start membership negotiations with Ukraine as soon as this year, the Voice of America reported on Saturday.
“When we say that Ukraine is Europe, and Europe is Ukraine, it means that accession negotiations should begin as soon as possible. I am hopeful that accession negotiations can begin already this year,” she said during her visit to Lviv in western Ukraine. “The future of Ukraine is in the European Union,” she added.
Metsola made an unannounced trip to Lviv and twitted upon the arrival: “Good to be back in Ukraine. With those brave people who inspired the world. With those heroes who refuse to give in. With those who sacrificed everything for our values. With Europeans whose home is in our European Union.”
In Lviv, she discussed Ukraine’s bid to join the EU with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Weapons supplies to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia were also discussed during the meeting, according to Politico.
“The pace with which the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] and the government is making progress on the EU application impresses me,” Metsola said.
The EU granted candidate status to Ukraine last June, kicking off an exhaustive legal process that could last many years but which Zelensky wants to wrap up as soon as possible.
After the meeting with the Ukrainian president, Metsola wrote on Twitter: “I have learned many things from Ukraine the past year. But perhaps the most important lesson is one articulated by Taras Shevchenko: ‘Keep fighting, you are sure to win.’”
The EP president attended the “United for Justice Conference” and stressed that her institution supports the establishment of a special international tribunal to prosecute crimes of aggression against Ukraine.
“There can be no peace without accountability,” Metsola said.
Metsola and Zelensky also met with students of Lviv universities.