EU leaders happy to pose with Zelensky, but hesitant on Ukraine membership.
Article written by “The Washington Post” pro bogus and democrat therefore to read with tweezers, because still a little in the Ukrainian madness, but they realize that the narrative is gradually losing credibility within the West now and they gently make a mea culpa on the Russian power which little by little nibbles the economy, Ukrainian, European and above all a superiority which is shown every day on the ground.
Posted on 10.6.2022 by TWP
BRUSSELS – Ukraine is one of us. It is moving towards a European future. The future of Europe is, in fact, the future of Ukraine.
It is not yet clear whether the 27 EU countries will grant Ukraine “candidate status” – a first step on the long road to membership – or some kind of symbolic pre-candidate status, said diplomats. What seems certain is that Ukraine, which is fighting for its survival, will be disappointed.
While several EU officials, lawmakers and leaders have lobbied to fast-track Kyiv’s bid, others have tried to temper Ukrainian expectations, pointing out that joining could take decades. In private conversations, some EU diplomats admitted that their governments were nervous about starting the accession process with a country at war. Some even wonder if Ukraine has a chance of becoming a member.
On Friday, Mr. Zelensky urged the European Union to pull his country out of the gray zone between Europe and Russia. Granting Ukraine candidate status would prove “that words about the Ukrainian people’s desire to be part of the European family are not just words”, he said in a virtual speech at the Copenhagen summit on democracy.
The rift between the overwhelming support of senior EU officials, who pose for photos with Mr Zelensky, and the quiet skepticism of many EU diplomats weighs on preparations for the EU summit on June 23-24 – and did not go unnoticed in kyiv.
None of the 27 would say ‘no’ to the president, but what is happening behind the scenes is a clear desire to put obstacles in the way,” said Olha Stefanishyna, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration and Euro-Atlantic Union of Ukraine, during a visit to Brussels.
If it joined the European Union, Ukraine would become the fifth most populous country in the EU, but also by far the poorest, because it receives subsidies from the rest of the Union. Last year, its gross domestic product per capita was $4,872. The poorest country in the EU, Bulgaria, was at $11,683, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, is expected to make a recommendation on Ukraine’s status next week. According to European diplomats, the Commission could recommend candidate status for membership, but subject it to conditions, a compromise unlikely to please Ukraine.
With the final decision resting with member states, Stefanishyna and other Ukrainian officials have toured European capitals to argue that Ukraine needs and deserves unconditional candidate status. “The starting point for any discussion is the legal status of Ukraine,” she said.
Debate over Ukraine’s candidacy threatens to drive a wedge between the country and its European backers, dealing a blow to kyiv’s aspirations to break free from Russia’s grip and integrate more closely with its neighbors from West.
It also risks further fracturing European unity in aid to Ukraine, exacerbating tensions between Central European countries and the Baltic states, on the one hand, which support Ukraine’s “swift candidacy to the EU”, and Western Europeans, on the other hand, who tend to have more reservations about Ukraine’s state of readiness.
“It’s a country at war, and they need to cheer themselves up,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in an interview. “I can imagine what Russian propaganda will do with it.”
Witold Waszczykowski, a former Polish foreign minister, now a member of the European Parliament, said the EU must do everything it can for Ukraine, including granting it candidate status. “We understand that we are next,” he said. “If Ukraine collapses, Russia will come out on top and it will go further west.”
Ms Stefanishyna said Ukrainian officials are trying to persuade holdouts, including “some Nordic countries”, the Netherlands and Germany.
During a visit to Kyiv last month, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stressed that there were “no shortcuts” to membership. Privately, German leaders have expressed concern that if they now open accession negotiations with Ukraine, Mr Zelensky will ask, by August, to be admitted immediately, while the process typically takes years, according to officials familiar with their position. But the German government has not given its official opinion on whether to offer Ukraine candidate status in the near future.
“Germany’s official position is that it has no official position so far,” Ms Stefanishyna said. “We see this as a positive signal.”
Joining the European Union is extremely complex. All of a future member’s laws must be reviewed and brought into line with the standards set in Brussels.
The Union is also well aware that it carries much more weight before a country’s accession than after. Once a country has joined the Union, it is much more difficult to influence democratic commitments, as the rollbacks of some EU members have clearly shown.
For Ukraine, decades of corruption present a problem. The country ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index. Although Ukraine’s leaders point to progress on this front, several EU diplomats have said their governments remain concerned .
“Ukraine was not close before and it is not now,” said an EU diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. “But if enlargement is not a direct option, what do you do? “.
In a speech on Europe Day last month, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to answer that question, outlining his vision for a “European political community” that would include an outer circle of democracies. wanting to be part of the EU – like Ukraine, and even Britain after it chose to leave.
“We feel in our hearts that Ukraine, through its fight and its courage, is already today a member of our Europe, of our family and of our union,” Macron said.
“We all know perfectly well that the process for them to join would take several years – in truth, probably several decades,” he continued. “This is the truth, unless we decide to lower the standards of this membership and therefore completely rethink the unity of our Europe. »
Macron’s proposal did not receive a warm reaction within the EU and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba rejected it outright. He denounced some European capitals, saying their strategic ambiguity over Ukraine’s status had “emboldened Putin”.
“We don’t need substitutes for EU candidate status that show second-class treatment of Ukraine and hurt Ukrainian feelings,” he tweeted.
Enlargement skeptics are quick to point out that other countries are ahead of the line. Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia have all been in accession talks with the EU for years. Turkey applied in 1987 and remains an official candidate, although it has largely given up.
Some politicians and diplomats recognize that Ukraine stands out for the urgency of its situation. But they still fear alienating countries that applied earlier.
Ukraine has been pushing for years to integrate further into the European Union, and a free trade agreement is already in place. But it submitted its official application for membership on February 28, four days after the Russian invasion.
On March 1, Zelensky gave a virtual speech at an extraordinary session of the European Parliament. Speaking from a bunker in Kyiv as Russian forces invaded Ukraine, he said his country was not just fighting for its ‘survival’ but also ‘to be a full member of Europe’. .
“Prove that you are with us,” he challenged.
The speech landed strong. An EU interpreter was so moved by the mention of Zelensky’s bombardment of Kharkiv that he momentarily lost his temper. When the President of Ukraine finished speaking, the audience stood up.
At the March summit in Versailles, a suburb of Paris, EU leaders were more hesitant. After hours of debate, the European Council said it “recognizes Ukraine’s European aspirations and European choice” and will task officials in Brussels to provide an assessment.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen regularly touts the country’s “European future”. During a visit to Kyiv in April, she handed Mr. Zelensky a questionnaire that marks the first stage of the candidacy process and offered him her support. “Dear Volodymyr, my message today is clear: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” she said. “Your path to the European Union begins here”.
In Brussels, several EU diplomats said von der Leyen had made too many promises, either because she had misjudged the mood of member states or because she was hoping to push them through.
More than one diplomat estimated that the chances of obtaining candidate status were “50/50”. A few were more skeptical, predicting a half measure, such as the promise of candidate status at some point in the future, provided the conditions are met.
Deputy Prime Minister Stefanishyna said the starting point for Ukraine was unconditional candidate status. “We don’t play the game of promises,” she said.