President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola said before the Riigikogu on Wednesday that the crises of last years had made Europe more resilient, more determined and more united than it had ever been before.
In Metsola’s opinion, no big or small powers exist in our Europe, and this is nowhere better proven than in Estonia.
“Where despite its own security concerns never scaled back from its warnings about Russia. Where despite sharing a 300km border with an aggressor and a former occupying power, took bold and quick decisions to decouple itself from Russian energy. [Estonia is] a country that has consistently, and let me say, admirably, put its money where its mouth is for Ukraine and in defence of our values and strategic priorities.” Metsola said, and added that it had been Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) who just two weeks after Putin’s brutal invasion had addressed the European Parliament to outline our first steps as one united Team Europe in response to Russia’s invasion. “Because Estonia knows what is at stake.”
According to Metsola, the debate on the our strategic autonomy of Europe must move from the theoretical to the practical.
“That is true when it comes to our competitiveness, our energy supplies, trade and of course, defense. Europe needs to step up in its own capabilities and create a new security and defense framework that complements – not competes – with NATO. The proposals from Estonia on strengthening European defense industry are important. We cannot wait,” she said.
Metsola assured that the European Parliament’s political, economic, military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic support to Ukraine had remained steadfast, and it would remain steadfast.
“We will continue to condemn Russia’s aggression and impose hard-hitting sanctions to impede the financing of Russia’s war machine. These must be fully implemented and any loopholes closed. We will continue to call for Russian assets to be used to re-build Ukraine. We will continue to hold culprits of war crimes to account. And we will continue to do whatever we can to assist Ukraine in the process of European integration,” she said, and added that Ukrainian security was European security, and Ukraine’s place was within the EU.
In her speech, Metsola also spoke of the crises of recent years and the decisions relating to them in a wider context, noting that the world was changing and Europe must change with it.
“The last years have not been easy. But as the saying goes: the strongest steel is forged in the hottest of fires. That is why I argue that Europe is stronger than it has been in the last decades. That the crises we faced made us more resilient, more determined and more united than we have ever been before,” she said.
She also underlined that when changes were made, it was necessary to be better able to cushion the economic and social impact of decisions, to better explain the decisions, and to listen to people more and harder.
“As someone once put it to me, there is an invisible line that people cannot be pushed beyond. People must have confidence in the process. Our processes are sometimes very difficult to explain and navigate through. And they must be able to afford the transitions we are making. Otherwise they will not succeed,” Metsola said. In her opinion, that is the challenge we are facing before the European Parliament elections on 9 June.
Metsola said that, together with MEPs, they had made it their mission to burst through the Brussels bubble and bring Europe closer to the citizens they represent.
“We are here to speak to the Estonian people – young people in particular, who I will meet later on today at Tallinn University – to explain our achievements, to listen to their concerns and to invite them not to miss being able to vote for who they want to represent them,” Metsola stated, and called on the Riigikogu to transmit to the European Parliament the sentiments, the feelings, the frustrations, the concerns, the questions of their citizens, and join the European Parliament in convincing the Estonian people to cast their vote.
Metsola was on a one-day visit to Estonia on Wensday, February 13. She also had meetings with President of Estonia Alar Karis, President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Her visit will conclude with a meeting with young people at Tallinn University.