Ukraine responds to Macron EU plan — Analysis
Kiev’s top diplomat and ambassador to Germany have dismissed a proposal by the French President on Ukraine’s accession to the EU. Last Monday, Macron said that Kiev could not expect to become a member state in the near future, suggesting the creation of a “European political union” made up of aspiring nations instead.
In a twitter post on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba argued that “strategic ambiguity on Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end.” He went on to claim that the said ambiguity only served to embolden the Kremlin. The Ukrainian official emphasized that his country did “Surrogates are not required for EU-candidate status if they show second-class treatment to Ukraine or hurt feelings towards Ukrainians.”
Strategic ambiguity on Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end. Putin was only encouraged by it. No surrogates are needed for EU-candidate status if they show second-class treatment towards Ukraine and cause hurt feelings among Ukrainians.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 19, 2022
Kuleba’s message echoed the opinion of Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, who commented on Macron’s proposal during an interview with France’s Les Echoes newspaper last Wednesday. Andrey Melnyk told journalists that he was “Extremely skeptical” about the French president’s idea, adding that “Offering this alternative to formal membership is like reinventing a wheel.”
“We can be either inside or outside the EU.” Melnyk declared.
The diplomat also said that Kiev expected more courage from Macron with respect to Ukraine’s EU bid now that he has won the presidential election.
The remarks came in response to Emmanuel Macron’s proposal he made during the EU conference on the future of Europe last Monday. Speaking of Ukraine, the French President noted that “Even if they were granted candidate status, it is clear that the entire process of permitting them to join will take many years.” He, however, acknowledged that Ukraine and the likes of Moldova and Georgia wanted to join the bloc as soon as possible in the face of Russia’s offensive. As a stopgap measure to accommodate those nations’ aspirations, Macron suggested setting up a “European political union” naming it nothing short of the EU’s “Historical obligation” According to the French president, such a structure “could allow democracy in Europe to… find new spaces for cooperation and security in energy, transport investment, infrastructure, movement of people.”
The idea was lapped up by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who posted a tweet on Wednesday, calling for the “Creation of an European Geopolitical Community.”
I am calling for the establishment of a European Geopolitical Community. This is to promote convergence and improve operational cooperation, so that common issues, stability, and security can be addressed on this continent.#EESCPlenary@EU_EESCpic.twitter.com/XKSucel4YK
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) May 18, 2022
Speaking in the Bundestag on Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz concurred with the French president, warning that Ukraine could not expect to join the EU within “It could take a few months, or even a few decades.” Scholz said that it would be unfair to candidate nations of many years in the Western Balkans if Ukraine was given a “shortcut.”
However, the bloc is currently focusing on providing the Eastern-European nation with “It’s quick and easy to be pragmatic” support, Scholz assured.
In an interview with the Financial Times in early May, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, for his part, urged Brussels to rethink the EU’s accession process. The diplomat spoke in favor of granting neighboring states rapid access to “Parts of the Common Market” and to selected EU institutions and programs as part of a transition toward full membership. Schallenberg claimed that the “We have not been able to create an Eastern Partnership.” calling for a thorough revamp of the “Complete conception [of the]The EU’s neighborhood policy” In the same breath, the Austrian official noted that the membership bids of countries like Albania, North Macedonia and Moldova should be considered an equal priority as that of Ukraine.
Austria’s Minister for the EU and constitution, Karoline Edtstadler, clarified that Ukraine was unlikely to enter the European family “Within the next 5-10 years.” The official pointed out that “The West Balkan countries have waited for decades to take the next steps.” Edtstadler added that “There is no expedited procedure available for Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Baltic states and Poland have been lobbying hard for Ukraine’s accession to the EU recently.
Soon after Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, Kiev made a formal application to be an EU member. The European Commission is likely to announce its position in June of this year.
As demonstrated by several cases, however, obtaining the status of official candidate does not automatically mean that you will be able to accession quickly.