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France, Italy, Germany back Ukraine’s application for EU candidate status, vow more aid & More Trending News Today



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The leaders of France, Italy, and Germany visited war-torn Ukraine on Thursday and took a “first-hand glimpse” of Russia’s brutal aggression. After completing a 10-hour long train journey via Poland, the three leaders chose to visit Irpin– one of the suburbs of Kyiv devastated at the start of the war. It is to mention that European and Western countries, on several occasions, criticised French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for not visiting the EU aspiring nation. 

While speaking at a press conference following their visit to the war zone, all the leaders — Draghi, Scholz and Macron– vowed their support to Ukraine in granting candidate status for European Union membership.

Giving the status to Ukraine is “a strong, quick, expected gesture of hope and clarity that we want to send to Ukraine and its people,” the French leader said during the press conference following a meeting with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the late afternoon. He, however, stressed that the status would be followed by a “roadmap” that would include “conditions”.

The French leader further defended himself against any “ambiguity” in his assistance for Kyiv as he said Ukraine must be able to resist and prevail against the Russian army. “France has been at Ukraine’s side since day one (…) we stand by the Ukrainians without ambiguity,” he said. “The whole world has witnessed the war crimes committed on Ukrainian soil. To ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable and punished in accordance with international law, we remain mobilized. To collect evidence, our experts are on the front line,” he added.

Macron also defended his repeated calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the start of Russia’s invasion  on 24 February, stating they aimed “to try to get concessions” and “to move the food security agenda forward”. “At some point, in some form, this conflict will have to end,” he went on, stressing that “the modalities will only be decided by Ukraine and its representatives”. “Neither Germany nor France will be in a position to negotiate for Ukraine,” he added.

In a joint statement, the leaders expressed their support for Ukraine and also pledged to push more lethal weapons to the war-torn country. Macron promised Ukraine six more truck-mounted artillery guns. A similar commitment was also echoed by the German Chancellor. The French President further said  that France, Germany, Italy and Romania have been taking every possible step so that Ukraine does not stand alone in the relentless war.

Macron even said that “we are side by side today with Chancellor Scholz. One hundred years ago, we were at war and our allies helped France win. France committed a historic mistake. It lost the peace because it wanted to humiliate Germany. The question of humiliation I always placed in a context to come, not the current context.”

“Today, this war must be won, France clearly supports Ukraine so it prevails. Germany, like France, will never be in situations where they negotiate on Ukraine’s behalf with Russia. Moreover, we have never done that,” he added.

Ukraine ‘a family of European Union’: Scholz

On the other hand, Scholz, who faced criticism from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the delay in delivering weapons to Kyiv, called Ukraine “a family of European Union” and pledged his support to Ukraine in preventing Russia’s brutal aggression. “My colleagues and I have come here to Kyiv today with a clear message: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” said Scholz. With Scholz beside him, the French President fended his earlier comments that enraged Ukrainians about not “humiliating Russia”, solemnly noting how the end of World War I had sown the seeds for World War II.

Italian PM says sea blockade could bring severe catastrophe

Meanwhile, Italian Premier Mario Draghi expressed concerns over Russia’s unlawful blockade of Ukrainian ports. Criticising Putin for blocking seaports, he said the outcome would be significant and catastrophic. “We want the atrocities to stop and we want peace. But Ukraine must defend itself, and it will be Ukraine that chooses the peace it wants,” Draghi said. 

Image: AP

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