Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, gave her 2022 State of the Union address today which focused largely on the ongoing war in Ukraine and its global impact while emphasizing that the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia are “part of our family, your future is in our Union, and our Union is not complete without you.”
President von der Leyen remarked that “this watershed moment in global politics calls for a rethink of our foreign policy agenda” and is the moment to invest in democracies.
“This work begins with the core group of our like-minded partners: our friends in every single democratic nation on this globe,” she highlighted. “We see the world with the same eyes. And we should mobilize our collective power to shape global goods.”
“The most immediate way to do so is to deepen our ties and strengthen democracies on our continent,” she said and added that this must begin with the countries that are already on the path to joining the EU.
“We must be at their side every step of the way,” President von der Leyen underscored. “Because the path towards strong democracies and the path towards our Union are one and the same.”
In her speech, President von der Leyen also accentuated that a major lesson from the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that “we should have listened to those who know [Vladimir] Putin.”
In that context, she pointed to “friends” in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, the opposition in Belarus, and others, who have intimate knowledge regarding the consequences of Russia’s actions. “They have been telling us for years that Putin would not stop,” she stressed.