April 13. 2024. 6:44

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EU Parliament chief: ‘We have to be prepared for anything’ amid Putin nuke threats

Following Russia announcing its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, “we have to be prepared for anything”, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told Romanian’s television news channel Digi24 in an interview.

Metsola, who took the helm of the EU assembly in January 2022, also warned of the dangers of growing populist narratives across Europe ahead of the European elections due in spring 2024, saying that traditional political parties must not ignore disillusioned voters but should work to “counter the narrative”.

In her interview with Digi24.ro, Metsola commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus – bringing them closer to NATO territory.

It is “essentially an escalation after the International Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant, an unprecedented, extremely strong message,” she said.

“We have to be prepared for anything, and this is where we have to realise that the war is not ending and we will continue to insist that until Russia pulls out of Ukraine, we will not stop responding,” she added.

Another worry for Metsola, particularly ahead of the EU elections next year, is “an ever-increasing number of voters who feel disenfranchised, far away”.

“One could say perhaps the traditional political parties have gotten used to their voter base and have only appealed to them regarding messaging, whether on the war, on the social and economic impact of what we are facing, high inflation etc.,” she added.

“What we have to realise is that the worst we could do is ignore those disenfranchised voters and not counter the narrative. In today’s politics, it’s so easy to get away with a populist headline.”

“But if you are in politics to do the right thing, you need to make sure that you go beyond the headline and explain how you are making a difference in people’s lives, how you can communicate this message, how politics is a force for good,” the EU Parliament chief added.

In the current European Parliament, despite the rise of right-wing and populist parties, Metsola said “majorities are formed in the constructive pro-European centre” – a formation she says would “deliver on migration challenges, on climate challenges, on digital challenges, and whatever else this European Union will get to face in the next few years.”

Asked to comment on media speculation that she might be a candidate of the European People’s Party for the next European Commission president, Metsola neither denied nor confirmed:

“For me, being the Parliament president is not only a privilege and an honour but a huge responsibility. This is a role I take very seriously, it’s a role that I’ll keep on doing until the end of my mandate. After that, I will run for my seat in Malta.”

(Oana-Carmen Zamfir | EURACTIV.com)