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19 Oct, 2021 11:01

EU has already made up its mind about whether Ukraine can join bloc, so it’s ‘pointless’ even asking questions, Zelensky blasts

EU has already made up its mind about whether Ukraine can join bloc, so it’s ‘pointless’ even asking questions, Zelensky blasts

Ukraine’s long-standing ambition to join the EU is being held up by concerns from member states, with Brussels’ top leadership no longer able to help map out a route to it being admitted, President Volodymr Zelensky has said.

Speaking to Kiev-based ICTV channel on Monday, the Ukrainian president lamented that it is not worth even asking questions about membership, given that he and his advisers already know what the answers will be.

“It makes no sense to put some questions to our valued colleagues when you understand what the response will be in advance. Therefore, there are some questions that I haven’t even put to to [the head of the European Commission] Ursula von der Leyen, or to [President of the European Council] Charles Michel,” the president said.

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Zelensky also argued that if Ukraine’s accession to the EU was down to a decision made by authorities in Brussels alone, then the country would already have joined the combined 27 member states “yesterday.” However, the issues that face Kiev’s attempts are down to other individual countries not giving their consent, he added, and out of the control of top Eurocrats.

“When you see them face to face, they say they are in your favor but there are questions from some other countries,” he added. Kiev is preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024, with the hope of finally officially joining in the 2030s.

Seven of the EU’s member states are now set to support the induction of Ukraine, although another 20 countries have still not declared their willingness to do so. Kiev has embarked on a series of reform efforts in the hope of meeting the criteria.

In August, it was reported that Berlin and Paris are not ready to accept Ukraine into either the EU or NATO, over fears that there would be a growing dominance of Eastern European states. “Germany and France think like this: if Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, the European Union, and Ukraine plus Poland, Lithuania, the Baltic countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Eastern Europe will dominate the so-called indigenous [Western] Europe. It changes all the balances, it is not in the interests of Germany, France and other Western European countries,” Ukrainian political scientist Vadim Karasev argued at the time.

Later that month, then-Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said that the prospect of Kiev gaining membership was not on the cards in the short term. “First you must build your own economy, democracy and free society – only then can you even start asking about it,” she said. “But until that’s done, you can’t even ask that question.”

In June this year, Zelensky also expressed his frustration that past promises about the potential for his country to join NATO had not been honored, despite Ukraine starting its application in 2008. He said that “very wrong things are happening” but that he still holds faith that Kiev would be admitted to the US-led military bloc. “I have to point out that many Ukrainians increasingly don’t believe this as strongly as they used to,” he added, given the consistent delays and hurdles facing its application.

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