A Cypriot MEP has drawn criticism from colleagues for not supporting a vote to accept Ukraine’s EU application, with the member from the left saying he condemned the Russian campaign but was against Europe taking part in NATO expansion.
MEPs on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of an EU resolution supporting Kiev’s bid for EU membership and condemning Russia's violence in Ukraine, with the vote taking place right after that country’s president gave an emotional speech.
The resolution called "for the EU institutions to work towards granting EU candidate status to Ukraine" and to continue working towards integrating the country into the single market, drawing 637 votes in favor, 13 against, and 26 abstentions.
MEP Giorgos Georgiou, who abstained from the vote, called for the immediate cessation of violence in Ukraine, saying he was in favor of a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops.
Georgiou argued the resolution was 'lopsided' for not dealing with parties failing to implement the Minsk agreements, which sought since 2014 to end the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine
But Georgiou also said he did not vote in favor of the resolution because “it promotes further EU military assistance, increases defense spending, utilizes the European Defense Fund, [and] amplifies European strength through NATO.”
“I unequivocally condemn the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, which is a violation of international law, as well as the recognition of independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which constitutes a violation of the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” Georgiou said.
On Tuesday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on MEPs to prove that they supported Kiev by allowing Ukraine to join the EU.
"We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms and now we’re fighting for survival. We are also fighting to be equal members of Europe," Zelenskyy said.
The head of Cyprus’ labor party on the left told state radio on Wednesday morning that he understood Georgiou’s position.
AKEL chief Strefanos Stefanou, who was asked about the party’s stance towards Russia, denied that they were relying on “myths of the past” and said “we don’t have any myths about Russia, maybe others still choose to view us through that scope.”
The vote came as Brussels announced it was sending weapons into Ukraine, banning Russian-backed media, and blocking Russian planes from European air space.
Reports said some countries have expressed reservations over Ukraine’s bid for EU membership, with European Council president Charles Michel saying there were "different opinions and sensitivities" among members.
Georgiou argued he was abstaining because the resolution for supporting Ukraine’s EU membership was “lopsided” as it did not assign blame to parties that failed to implement the Minsk agreements, which sought since 2014 to end the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
"Every past experience underscores that NATO is not an agent for peace and that the broader utilization of weaponry being advocated in the resolution props up war to the detriment of all peoples,” Georgiou said.