Zelensky welcomed by EU leaders in Brussels
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Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to Volodymyr Zelensky has sparked fury in the EU, with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni branding the move “inappropriate”.Speaking to reporters as she arrived in Brussels for the EU Council Summit, Giorgia Meloni lambasted Emmanuel Macron’s decision to send a last-minute invitation to Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the EU meeting.
The Ukrainian leader was invited to travel to Paris by the Elysee Palace to meet with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after he addressed the UK Parliament in London.
The Italian Prime Minister told reporters on Thursday: “Frankly, yesterday’s invitation [by Macron] to Zelensky seemed inappropriate to me.
“Because I believe that our strength in this matter is unity and compactness. And I understand the internal political issues and the need to give priority to one’s internal public opinions.
“But there are times when favouring one’s own internal public opinion risks going to the detriment of the cause, and this seems to me to be one of those cases.”
The French President had reportedly made the move as a last minute decision to counteract rumours he failed to invite Zelensky to Paris before Rishi Sunak.
Macron had been in communication with the Ukrainian leader last week over the possibility of a state visit in Paris as the first leg of Volodymyr Zelensky’s European tour.
But according to the Wall Street Journal, “no specific invite from President Emmanuel Macron ever made it to Mr Zelensky”, allowing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to swiftly fill the gap.
The Ukrainian leader then travelled to London on Wednesday morning – only to meet with Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Paris in the evening.
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Zelensky, the WSJ reported, had no intention to stop in Paris before heading to Brussels on Thursday morning, but as he addressed the UK Parliament, Macron’s team worked around the clock to send out an invitation, securing the presence of Chancellor Scholz as well.
The rushed meeting in Paris lacked the pomp welcome Zelensky received in London where he met with King Charles and addressed MPs and Peers.
In comparison, the Ukrainian leader did not give any speeches in France but showed up for a joint press conference with the two EU leaders before having dinner at the Elysee.
The Ukrainian leader flew to the Belgian capital with Macron on Thursday morning to address MEPs in the European Parliament and participate to this month’s EU Council Summit.
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Macron’s team insists the visit had been planned for weeks and denies any competition with the UK over Zelensky’s attention.
The Ukrainian leader said Thursday that “a Ukraine that is winning” should become a European Union member, arguing the bloc wouldn’t be whole without his country being an integral part of the EU.
Zelenskk made his comments during an address to the European Parliament on a rare trip outside Ukraine, which has been trying to repel a full-scale invasion by Russia for nearly a year.
The Brussels visit came as Russia intensified its attacks in eastern Ukraine amid signs that a major new offensive by Moscow was underway before the February 24 anniversary of the war.
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