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12 Dec, 2023 15:15

Third EU state objects to Ukrainian membership talks

Austria has joined Hungary and Slovakia in opposing fast track procedures for accepting Ukraine and Moldova into the union
Third EU state objects to Ukrainian membership talks

There should be no preferential treatment for Ukraine in regards to its path to becoming a member of the European Union, Austrian Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said during a government meeting on Monday.

His statement came in response to proposals from the European Commission to launch accession talks with Ukraine as soon as possible. However, after opposition from Hungary and Slovakia, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that the bloc’s leaders would only discuss “the opening of accession negotiations, not accession itself” at the upcoming European Council summit this week.

Answering questions from members of Austria’s EU Main Committee, Nehammer stated that his country was generally in favor of EU enlargement and agreed to offering Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova accession prospects.

However, he insisted that there should be no “fast-track procedure” for the two states and that internal EU reforms would also be needed to prepare the bloc for enlargement. He stressed that Austria would not agree to any accession talks with Ukraine under the current conditions.

Nehammer also noted that von der Leyen had not consulted with him or any other EU leaders before issuing a recommendation last month to open formal membership talks with Ukraine, arguing that it had made significant progress in internal reforms to warrant such a step.

This recommendation was also met with opposition by Slovakia and Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban called it “unfounded and poorly prepared.” Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar also stated that he “couldn’t imagine” Kiev joining the union while it was still in a “state of war,” noting that its membership was still “terribly far away.”

Kiev, meanwhile, has insisted that it has already fulfilled all the key requirements in its bid to join the bloc and demanded that EU members “play fairly” and recognize its efforts.

“We can jump, we can dance if that is requested in addition,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, insisting that “If we are told to do something, and we do that, that must be registered as a result.”

For years, the Ukrainian government has cited accession to the bloc as one of its priorities, with little actual progress made. Ukraine officially applied for membership in February 2022, days after Russia launched its military operation.

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