Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was the first EU leader to address the European Parliament in the “This is Europe” series of debates, on 9 March.
Opening the debate, Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “We need to re-assess the European Union’s role in this new world. We need to boost our investment in defence and innovative technologies. This is the time for us to take decisive steps to ensure the security of all Europeans. The time to build a real security and defence union and reduce our dependencies on the Kremlin.”
In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and as prime minister of a country sharing a nearly 300km border with Russia, Kallas called for increased EU defence, decreased energy dependence and emphasised the importance of the Nato alliance.
She also talked about the importance of the future of Ukraine: “It is in our interest that Ukraine becomes more stable, more prosperous and is solidly founded on the rule of law. (…) But it’s not only in our interest to give Ukraine a membership perspective, it is also our moral duty to do so. Ukraine is not just fighting for Ukraine, it’s also fighting for Europe.”
She addressed Russian citizens directly, assuring them that the EU is not acting against them and that sanctions are intended to isolate President Vladimir Putin and his government. “We continue to hope for a stable and democratic Russia that is respectful of its neighbours and is governed by a rule of law.”
Political group leaders
Reacting to Kallas’s speech, MEPs called for more action to help Ukraine in its struggle, including providing more weapons. and reducing the EU’s reliance on Russian oil and gas. They also discussed the need to support Ukrainian refugees and defend European values.
You can watch the debate here.