German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has delivered a statement to the German parliament ahead of an EU summit on the war in Ukraine. Scholz described the war in Ukraine as the greatest crisis facing the EU in its history.
Scholz: 'Russia will not dictate a peace'
Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday ahead of an extraordinary EU summit on Ukraine later this month.
"We as the European Union must pave the way for a solidarity fund fed by membership fees from the European Union and our international partners. That way we will help the Ukrainians to clear the destruction and to rebuild," he said.
Ukraine remains part of our "European family" Scholz said, adding that Ukraine needs long-term support while it requests to join the EU, something for which there is no "shortcut."
The chancellor pointed to the Western Balkan countries that have been seeking EU membership for years, saying they should not be overlooked. He said he would attend the EU summit "with the clear message that the Western Balkans belong in the European Union".
Finland poised to join NATO
Bringing up the energy crisis, he said "our aim is clear, we want to ensure that we increase Europe's sovereignty with regard to energy and achieve our climate goals together."
"It is my firm conviction that we will overcome the impacts here in Europe and across the globe, because we here are a strong country, we have strong partners and strong alliances," Scholz said in his concluding remarks. "But also, because we know what we are defending: peace, liberty, and rule of law."
What is the special summit about?
The extraordinary EU summit on May 30 and 31 is expected to focus on the war in Ukraine and its consequences.
Possible topics for heads of state and government who are to meet in Brussels are a planned oil embargo against Russia and the EU Commission's long-term plan to wean the bloc off Russian fossil fuels.
They could also discuss the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU, although a decision on the country's candidate status is to be made in June at the earliest.
Marathon session of debates and votes
Scholz's statement was scheduled ahead of a debate lasting just under two hours, expected to address the same themes.
The Bundestag was also set to discuss and vote on numerous other bills on Thursday as part of a marathon 14-hour session. They included a new coronavirus relief package, the enforcement of Russia sanctions, funding for the cheaper public transport and accelerated construction of liquefied natural gas terminals.