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5 Dec, 2023 15:06

Ukrainian accession to EU ‘terribly far away’ – member state

Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar “can’t imagine” Kiev being part of the bloc while its conflict with Russia continues
Ukrainian accession to EU ‘terribly far away’ – member state

Ukraine cannot hope to join the EU any time soon as the country is not only embroiled in a bloody conflict with Russia but also has yet to meet a list of preconditions, Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar has said.

Speaking to the Standard news portal on Monday, Blanar questioned the push by some senior EU policymakers to formally open talks on Kiev’s accession to the bloc, saying he “can’t imagine” Ukraine becoming a member state under the current circumstances.

The minister remarked that he was “curious” to see how those officials, including EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “will answer the question of how we can start negotiations with a country that is in a state of war.”

“Personally, I think that Ukraine’s membership in the EU is terribly, terribly far away,” he said.

While Blanar did not rule out Ukraine joining the EU at some point, he stressed that Bratislava “refuses to approach this issue politically.”

“The only thing we support is that there should be a perspective for Ukraine in the future, but in compliance with all the rules, as all other countries,” he insisted. “No exceptions will be accepted.”

Slovakia halted all military assistance to Ukraine after the election of its new Prime Minister Robert Fico, who argued that “the EU should change from an arms supplier to a peacemaker.”

Ukraine first designated EU accession as a strategic goal in 2019. In late February 2022, days after the start of the conflict with Russia, Ukraine officially submitted its application to the bloc. However, numerous EU officials have avoided setting a precise deadline for Ukraine joining the union, insisting that Kiev must first implement a number of reforms and crack down on rampant corruption.

In early November, the EU Commission recommended opening formal membership talks with Ukraine, arguing that it had made sufficient progress to warrant such a step. However, the proposal was opposed by Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban called it “unfounded and poorly prepared.”

Austria, another EU member state, has also warned against fast-tracking Ukraine’s bid, with Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg warning that such a policy could alienate other candidate countries in the Western Balkans, where some states have been waiting for their accession process to begin for up to 20 years.

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