“We see that some leaders remain on the sidelines with their own views and policies, and continue to sink into the mire of history”, says Member of the European Parliament Petras Auštrevičius, who is following the events in Ukraine from Brussels. He calls on European leaders to go to Kyiv and see for themselves that there is no more delay, Ignas Grinevičius and Audrius Saurusevičius wrote in lrytas.lt .
The MEP spoke about this in a special programme on the events in Ukraine on Lietuvos rytas TV.
He assessed the importance of visits to Kiev
According to Mr Auštrevičius, it must be admitted that Europe is helping Ukraine a lot in the field of practical assistance. Still, the most important homework has not been done yet.
“I am also speaking financially, in terms of macro-financial and humanitarian aid, and in terms of creating all the conditions for the quickest possible reception of refugees in the European Union. In other words, there are no questions here; everything is going quite smoothly.
But what Europe has not done, and what it has missed a golden opportunity to do, is to send a powerful signal of political support at the European Summit a good week ago. It has to be admitted; the homework has been done very poorly, without considering the whole situation. To be honest, I would suggest that European leaders meet again, rethink and express strong support for Ukraine’s EU membership”, said Mr Auštrevičius.
He noted that the most prominent European leaders should also go to Kyiv and demonstrate their solidarity, as the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have already done.
“Not by long-distance calls from safe capitals, but by taking a train from the border to Kyiv, which is quite a long time and distance. These leaders have been criticised at home in some quarters for being political show-offs for election campaigns. Still, I would pay less attention to that – to go to Kyiv at this time, talking to Zelensky and discussing these things, and feeling the whole atmosphere is a powerful step. I hope very much that other European leaders will dare to repeat this, not only in Central and Eastern Europe.
Almost all the pledges and their support are apparent here, but why not for Scholz? Why not for Macron? You can name those leaders, so go ahead – maybe less bombing of Kyiv, perhaps the leaders will realise what it means to have large Ukrainian cities destroyed, to have millions of refugees in droves? It is like in the cinema – it is one thing to see and imagine, but it is another thing to feel it in reality”, the MEP said.
Asked why these two leaders have not been present in Ukraine, he said that such actions are probably not being taken for security reasons but that this war will show who the real leaders are.
“I do not doubt that their security services have given those leaders such guidance that it is practically impossible to breakthrough. Of course, there are personal security issues, but the difference between a leader and a bureaucrat is that a leader makes a courageous decision and finds a way to implement that decision. Therefore, I think they should reject those things, call Putin, perhaps, beforehand, inform him, and boldly go where they are needed now – to Kyiv.
This week, Mr Zelensky addressed the German Parliament. And I will be honest – I do not really understand what is happening with the Germans. Imagine that: the head of state of a country that is being destroyed by an aggressor, who is experiencing everything that can be experienced in such circumstances, he makes a great speech, and what do you think – there was no debate, no counter-speech, but all the German leaders were present, all the leaders of all the political parties were current, and how can you not react at such a moment? <…> to run off into the bushes, and now the Germans shrug their shoulders, they don’t understand what happened”, Auštrevičius explained.
Lack of leaders?
He regretted that some Western politicians have remained “on the margins of history”.
Asked whose money should be used to rebuild Ukraine after the war, Mr Auštrevičius said that the sources should be found in more than one place.
“First of all, the frozen assets of the Russian state in the West, <…> the money of oligarchs who cooperate with Putin and have made billions, and thirdly, the support of the world’s financial institutions, and I would say, the irreversible backing of the strongest Western organisations.
It is time to start talking about creating a fund for the reconstruction of Ukraine, and its principles, because this, I would say, also inspires the Ukrainians to stick to their guns when the going gets tough,” the MEP said.