MEPs highlight need of transatlantic unity during Trudeau address in Brussels

MEPs hark back to end of Cold War as Russian invasion ushers in new struggle between democracies and autocratic systems

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (left) with European Parliament president Roberta Metsola
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (left) with European Parliament president Roberta Metsola

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was welcomed to the European Parliament by president Roberta Metsola where he addressed MEPs after an extraordinary North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit and a G7 Heads of State and government Meeting.

Trudeau also announced additional measures to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable for its invasion, including new sanctions on 160members of the Russian Federation Council, banning export of certain goods and technologies to Russia, allocating $50 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries, including Moldova, through the World Food Programme and the UN refugee agency, and another $4.8 million to UNESCO to protect Ukraine’s cultural and heritage sites.

In his address to MEPs, Trudeau condemned President Putin’s war of choice and reaffirmed Canada’s steadfast commitment to Euro-Atlantic security, calling for further coordinated strong support for Ukraine in response to Russia’s aggression.

“Vladimir Putin has violated the most basic precepts of international law. And he is now killing innocent civilians by bombing hospitals and residential buildings. This blatant disregard for the law and for human life poses an immense threat to Europe and to the world,” Trudeau said.

He said Canada, the EU, partners and allies were facing a defining moment that they could not afford to fail in the face of. “We must meet this moment. Putin thought democracy was weak. He thought he could weaken the EU and NATO. But he miscalculated. NATO and the EU are now more resolved and united than ever.”

“Canada has been working in lockstep with our NATO, G7, and European Union allies and other partners around the world to hold Russia accountable for its ongoing, illegal, and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine.

“Together, we will continue to support Ukraine as it defends its people, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, including through further coordinated economic sanctions and delivering critical humanitarian aid where it is needed most,” Trudeau said.

Metsola said Canada was an ally and a precious partner of the EU. “Our relationship has withstood the test of time,” she said, stressing on the joint commitment the EU and Canada have made towards Ukraine. “This is our generation’s moment to live up to the world we have inherited.”

MEPs highlighted the importance of transatlantic unity and called for further sanctions against Russia. Defending democracy comes at a price, they said, but the cost of not defending it would be higher.

MEPs also stressed the importance of the green transition and energy independence, which are crucial not only in the fight against climate change, but also to guarantee security and stability in Europe.

There were calls for more investment in security and strategic cooperation with partners like Canada, by building a strong military pillar within NATO and meet its financial commitments to the alliance.

Members also pointed to the massive exodus of refugees from Ukraine and welcomed Canada’s decision to absorb an unlimited number of people fleeing the invasion.

Siegfried Mureşan, vice chair of the EPP, said: “The partnership between Canada and the European Union is a long one, a strong one, it is based on democracy, the rule of law, it is based on equality, it is based on freedom of speech and now is the time for all free nations to stand up in the name of these values.”

Mureşan expressed that defending Ukraine meant defending Europe and defending the free world. “The rules that our western societies are based on are good for the people and now is the time to reject the habits and lack of rules from Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

Iratxe García Pérez, head of the S&D group, harked back to the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers on European soil to defend the freedoms its citizens enjoy today. “In 1989 when the berlin wall fell that marked the entrance into a new period of hope, we believed that we would not return to those times, we believed that we’d live in peace with multilateralism, without threats, without nuclear threats.”

García Pérez described the current state of play as “a struggle between democracies and autocratic systems” and urged MEPs to support cutting off Russian access to cryptocurrencies and tax havens. “We must strangle those financial connections of the different autocrats and oligarchs that support Putin’s regime.”

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