State of the Union: Europe Day sees Ukraine join the celebrations

President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, left, listens to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Strasbourg, France, March 15, 2023.
President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, left, listens to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Strasbourg, France, March 15, 2023. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Isabel da Silva
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The embattled country will join the rest of the EU in celebrating its foundation on May 9 and move its Remembrance Day commemorations to May 8, also in line with the EU.

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Brussels and Strasbourg, the seat of the European institutions, are the cities where the high-level sessions of Europe Day, celebrated on 9 May, are usually held.

That was the case this year, but Kyiv was the city chosen by European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, to the great satisfaction of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who decreed that Ukraine will also celebrate this day from now on.

She stressed that Kyiv was the ideal place to convey the message of defending the European project, based on the values of peace and freedom.

At the same time, in Strasbourg, the German Chancellor gave a speech in the European Parliament to mark Europe Day.

Olaf Scholz harshly criticised what he called Russian "imperialism" and advocated a strong and enlarged European Union, integrating Ukraine and other countries.

"We told the citizens of the Western Balkan countries, Ukraine, Moldova and, further down the road, also Georgia: 'You belong to us.' This has nothing to do with altruism," the German Chancellor said.

"This is about our credibility and about economic reason. And it is about securing peace in Europe - following the 'Zeitenwende' (paradigm shift) caused by Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine - for good."

One in three women in the EU has been the victim of physical and/or sexual violence. That is, 62 million women.

The fight against violence against women won a legal victory this week, after the European Parliament approved the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU.

It is a legal instrument of the Council of Europe, which came into force in 2014, to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Its objectives are to improve violence prevention, protect victims and punish perpetrators.

Now, the European Council, which brings together representatives of the 27 governments, is supposed to complete its ratification on behalf of the bloc, in June.

However, six Member States have not yet ratified it: Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.

The governments of these countries cannot be forced to do so, but MEPs are optimistic about the future, according to Danish lawmaker Karen Melchior.

"The women in Europe will be better protected against violence," she said.

"They will have better protection from authorities, police. There will be better education in schools, allowing young women to know that violence against them because they are women is unacceptable."

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