It is a historic and drastic day, says Manfred Weber (CSU), EPP Group leader in the EU Parliament. In the Merkur interview, he talks about peace, determination and the EU’s sharp swords.
Munich – Manfred Weber (CSU), head of the conservative EPP group in the EU Parliament, is traveling. In Lithuania on Tuesday he spoke to the Bundeswehr soldiers who protect the east of NATO. A trip to Kiev on Monday was canceled at short notice – for security reasons. EPP parliamentary group leader Manfred Weber had already warned urgently of the Russian deployment in a Merkur interview in December. Now he is calling for tougher sanctions: “We now need tough messages straight to Moscow.”
Putin creates facts. What has to be done now?
Manfred Weber (CSU), head of the conservative EPP group in the EU Parliament: First of all, we have to be aware of the dimension of the challenge. Putin is now openly breaking international law. National borders are being shifted again in Europe, thereby calling into question the sovereignty of states. This is a historic and crucial day. We have woken up in a new Europe.
weaver: We want peace and stability and so we must show strength, unity and unity. The first round of sanctions is launched. And I expressly welcome the German government’s decision on Nord Stream 2.
The pipeline is on hold. Does that mean a final end?
weaver: If Putin came back as a normal partner, we could talk about a lot. But at the moment there is extremely aggressive behavior that violates international law. So the decision was overdue.
The European partners have been waiting for this.
weaver: Nord Stream 2 recently hung like a real millstone on the federal government. Reliability and credibility were questioned. This signal is therefore all the more important now. But other questions remain
Weber: Putin has crossed a red line. We now need tough messages straight to Moscow
weaver: How are the sanctions going? The first step is in the right direction. The EU imposes economic sanctions on Donbass, it also extends the list of individuals who are individually targeted by sanctions. But in my view that is not enough. Putin has crossed a red line. We now need hard messages straight to Moscow.
So far, however, Putin has not been deterred by the threat of sanctions.
weaver: If the West is determined, it will have an impact. Russia depends on us economically. It’s about three blocks: First, the energy sector, which is now getting a clear signal with Nord Stream 2. The second is the exclusion of Russian banks from the Western financial system. And the third area is the exclusion of Russia from high technology, which affects the military sphere. These are sharp swords to defend freedom and democracy. If we don’t stop Putin, he will continue.
What does that mean militarily?
weaver: In the current situation, there is no military option for NATO and us Europeans. This is a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO. But we show solidarity with these economic measures.
They visit German troops in Lithuania. Is there a danger that we will soon see a war in Europe with German soldiers fighting?
weaver: This must be prevented at all costs. One thing is clear: we need a strong commitment to the NATO principles. We Bavarians and Germans can only follow the conflict in Ukraine so calmly because we are under the protective umbrella of NATO. But we urgently need to create Europe-wide structures for our security. Europe must finally wake up!
Is there anything that gives you hope?
weaver: I found it remarkable how China behaved at the security conference. The Foreign Minister has acknowledged the sovereignty of states and has taken a differentiated stance. This was important so that not only the images of Xi and Putin at the opening of the Olympic Games are remembered.
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