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5 Oct, 2023 14:33

Ex-EU boss says Ukraine too corrupt to join

The European Commission ex-president warned against making unrealistic promises to Kiev amid reports of upcoming membership talks
Ex-EU boss says Ukraine too corrupt to join

Deep-rooted and widespread corruption means that Ukraine will not be able to join the European Union any time soon, former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has said. In addition, earlier this week, Politico reported that the US government is putting pressure on Kiev to combat graft more effectively.

In an interview with Germany’s Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper published on Thursday, Juncker warned that Brussels “should not make any false promises to the people in Ukraine who are up to their neck in suffering.” He criticized those within the EU “who are leading the Ukrainians to believe that they could become a member state immediately.” According to the former official, such a scenario would be detrimental to the bloc and Ukraine.

Those who have dealt with Ukraine know that this is a country that is corrupt at all levels of society,” Juncker charged. He noted that the Eastern European nation would first need to conduct “massive” reforms.

The former president of the European Commission spoke in favor of “partial accession” for aspiring nations, which would allow them access to some of the benefits of European integration, provided that they made progress on the path of reform. 

Juncker’s warning came shortly after Politico, citing anonymous diplomats, reported that the incumbent EU leadership would formally announce the start of membership talks with Ukraine as early as December.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the same outlet claimed to have seen the “sensitive but not classified” version of the US State Department’s ‘Integrated Country Strategy’ for Ukraine. In it, American officials allegedly warned leadership in Kiev that “perceptions of high-level corruption” could “undermine the Ukrainian public’s and foreign leaders’ confidence in the war-time government.

According to Politico’s sources, US President Joe Biden’s administration is pressing Ukraine to step up its existing anti-graft efforts. However, it is doing so quietly to avoid handing political ammunition to Republicans who want to withhold American aid to Kiev over corruption concerns.

The Biden administration has reportedly clarified that future economic aid could be tied to reforms that “make Ukraine a more attractive place for private investment.

On Monday, Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak alleged that his country had been given a “yellow card” for corruption by the US.

Ukraine has for years been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, as of 2022, the country ranked 116th out of 180.