The Path to the European Parliament and the Challenges of Modern Europe. Interview with Marta Barandiy

A significant interview recently took place between Yuriy Romanenko and Marta Barandiy, a well-known Belgian activist of Ukrainian origin and politician with ambitions to represent a new party in the European Parliament.

The interview highlights her vision of European politics, the challenges facing Europe, and Ukraine’s role in the European context.

Yuriy Romanenko: Marta, we are pleased to see you, listen to you, and heed your words because I think you have much to tell. As I already mentioned, you are not just an expert or external observer of the political and economic processes in Belgium; you are, first and foremost, a politician. Essentially, you are a participant in the political process, not only in Belgium but also at the pan-European level, since the European Parliament deals with pan-European matters through delegations from national states. In this context, your point of view is interesting because you can talk about how European politics looks from the inside today.

Marta Barandiy: Let’s start from the very beginning regarding politics. I’ve always considered that I was around politics, not in politics, and even now, participating in the election campaign, I believe that it is still about being around politics. Politics is actually done from the inside. Of course, we shape it, we formulate it, and activists try to bring their positions and visions to European leaders. Still, the actual politics are formed by the people who are in the decision-making apparatus.

A New Political Force on the European Horizon

Marta Barandiy, a lawyer by education and an active defender of Ukraine’s interests in Europe, is the first number on the list of a new party founded at the end of 2023. The new political force has an ambitious goal — to bring a fresh perspective to European politics and to effect changes in the European Parliament. Barandiy emphasizes that despite obstacles and skepticism, her party has significant potential to attract those who are disillusioned with traditional political forces.

Marta Barandiy: I will be quite frank with you. Firstly, the party is new, founded in December 2023 by a senator who left Open VLD. This is the party of the Prime Minister of Belgium; she was in the party’s management until September 2023. She left in October and created her own party in December. By the way, she is the first woman in Belgium to make her party. And since it is a new party, it is very much slowed down and not allowed in surveys, sometimes not allowed in the media. But thanks to the fact that I, as a Ukrainian, am first on the list of this party to the European Parliament, the press invited me because I, as the president of the organization Promote Ukraine, also have my own position regarding Ukraine.

Yuriy Romanenko: But when you talk about them not wanting to let you into the media, what does that mean? You can create exciting media events using social networks.

Marta Barandiy: Yes, we are working on that. New party, new approaches. We launched several press releases, and for example, French-speaking media have already written about me. As for the Dutch-speaking press, they are cautious with us because we are going to Flanders, and there are big Flemish parties that don’t want to let us in. But we are working on media content; we have a team of volunteers ready to help. We will create content, communicate with farmers, and solve migration issues based on European values.

Challenges Facing Europe

Barandiy discusses a range of essential issues that Europe faces today, including security, migration, and economic challenges. She criticizes the slow process of imposing sanctions against Russia and points to the need for more decisive actions by the European Union.

Yuriy Romanenko: And how do you think, has the perception of Russia changed in Brussels? There are many Russian lobbyists; how do you fight against that?

Marta Barandiy: There are fewer lobbyists, but they still work in closed offices. We lobby for sanctions against Russia, especially against Russian aluminum. Unfortunately, Europe is very slow in imposing sanctions, and often, by the time they are introduced, ways have already been found to circumvent them. As for the agents, yes, they are powerful, but we try to fight Russian propaganda and show the truth.

Migration Crisis and the Identity of Europe

One of the central themes of the interview is migration policy. Barandiy believes that migration should be based on European values and principles. She emphasizes the importance of integrating migrants into European society but also points to the need to preserve the cultural identity and security of Europe.

Yuriy Romanenko: How do you assess the migration problem in Belgium? It is a big problem for Europe.

Marta Barandiy: The migration issue in Belgium is very acute. We believe that migration should be based on European values. Migrants coming here should be ready to defend European values, not just sit on social benefits. Politicians should offer systemic solutions, not just capitalize on temporary emotions.

The Role of Ukraine in the European Context

Barandiy discusses Ukraine’s important role in the context of European security and policy. She believes that Ukraine is an important partner for Europe in countering external threats and defending shared values.

Marta Barandiy: In 2014, I created one of the largest organizations in the European Union that promotes the interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Now, for the time of the campaign, I have temporarily transferred my powers to the vice president of the organization, Vasyl Kushmuns, so that he can perform these duties as president because I cannot simultaneously be a candidate and the president of the organization. However, during the entire organization activity, I observed two things. One – up to 2022, when I told Belgians and Europeans that Russia would attack further and that Crimea was only the first stage of Russian expansion, they laughed at me. But in 2022, all these leaders and communities, citizens of Belgium, politicians – they all called me…

Talking about the prospects for Ukraine in Europe, I see several dimensions to this issue. First of all, Europeans, or let’s say European politicians, see Ukraine and Eastern Europe more as protecting people from Russian invasion. On one hand, they believe that Russia may attack the Baltic countries and move further west, but on the other hand, they do not believe they would go so far…

Yuriy Romanenko: Yes, this is indeed an important point. And what do you think can change this perception? What can make European politicians and citizens pay attention to the real threats?

Marta Barandiy: It’s a complicated question. On the one hand, more educational work among citizens and politicians about the real threats facing Europe is needed. On the other hand, politicians mustn’t shy away from responsibility to their citizens and act based on long-term interests, not short-term benefits. They must be leaders who raise awareness among their electorate, not just go with the flow.

Yuriy Romanenko: That’s an interesting perspective. What do you think about Ukraine’s role in this context? How can Europe see Ukraine not only as an object but also as an active participant in solving regional problems?

Marta Barandiy: Ukraine has already shown that it can be not only an object of international politics but also an active participant in the struggle for democracy and European values. It’s important for Europe to see Ukraine as a partner with whom it can work together on common challenges, such as security, migration, and economic development. Ukraine has a lot to offer Europe, and cooperation can be mutually beneficial for both sides.


The interview with Marta Barandiy underscores the importance of new approaches in European politics, particularly the need for reforms in response to modern challenges. Barandiy aspires to bring about changes to help Europe become more united, secure, and prosperous. Her candidacy and active stance testify to Ukraine’s growing role on the European stage and joint efforts in defending democratic values.

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