MPs studying Ukraine war to focus on NATO expansion during Europe trip – National

The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a major focus as the parliamentary foreign affairs committee visits several European countries to study the effects of the war in Ukraine, its chairman said on Sunday. said in an interview in Warsaw.

The committee members will begin their journey in Sweden last week and end in Finland. Finland is one of her two countries in the final stages of NATO membership.

“We believe the eastern flank really has to be strengthened,” said Ali Esasi, chairman of the committee.

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Canada was the first NATO ally to approve the Swedish and Finnish bids to join the organization through a unanimous vote in parliament. The two countries applied to join a military alliance just months after Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago.

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Their bid has stalled as they await approval from two pending countries, Hungary and Turkey.

Commission members stopped in Brussels to speak with NATO officials about the importance of expanding membership to both countries and reiterated Canada’s firm support.

Canada signed an agreement with Latvia in June to lead NATO battle groups in the country as a forward presence along the Russian border.

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Ehsassi said NATO’s further demands on Canada were “an ongoing discussion”.

“We are doing a great job in Latvia, but we need to look further at how we can help,” he said.

The commission has already released an interim report on its findings on the war in Ukraine, but Commissioner Ehsassi said it was important for members to travel abroad to speak with international allies.

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The committee was invited by its Ukrainian counterpart to visit their country, but the request was not approved by the Liaison Committee (the parliamentary body responsible for approving travel budgets) due to security concerns.

“There is nothing better than going out on the ground, listening to and discussing with Ukrainian parliamentarians,” said Esasi, who already made a personal trip to the Ukrainian capital Kiev earlier this year.

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The committee also studies Canadian aid to Ukraine and keeps up with international best practices for helping countries in difficult situations.

The final report summarizes several elements of Canada’s role in the conflict. This includes financial, military and humanitarian aid.

“We had the opportunity to visit shelters. We had the opportunity to meet with local NGOs who are providing assistance. We met with individuals working inside Ukraine,” Ehsassi said. I was.

“I think it is very important to keep up to date with developments in Ukraine and where the gaps are.”

Members of various political parties on the commission have emphasized different measures, but Ehsassi said they were all united on the importance of maintaining firm support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. rice field.

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“I like to say that when it comes to Ukraine, our differences end at the water’s edge,” he said. “We are all focused and doing our best to help as much as we can.”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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