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10 Mar, 2022 19:57

Macron comments on Ukraine’s EU membership bid

The French president has voiced his opposition to Kiev’s EU membership aspirations amid the ongoing conflict with Russia
Macron comments on Ukraine’s EU membership bid

Emmanuel Macron has opposed giving any consideration at present to Ukraine’s European Union membership bid. The French president was grilled by reporters on the issue ahead of an EU summit at Versailles on Thursday.

“Can we open an accession procedure for a country at war? I don’t think so,” he stated.

Macron said the EU should send a “strong signal” of solidarity to Ukraine and to the Ukrainians, but cautioned that, “at the same time, we must be vigilant.” Three nations – Georgia and Moldova, along with Ukraine – have recently voiced their desire for membership.

Joining the EU has for decades been one of the main talking points for pro-West Ukrainian politicians, yet little to no actual progress has been achieved along that path. Kiev has renewed its push for membership amid the Russian offensive launched against the country in late February.

Moscow has since outlined its goals to “denazify” and “demilitarize” the country, claiming it was the only option left to protect the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, which split from Kiev back in 2014, following the Maidan events. Ukraine has denied harboring plans to reconquer the republics, branding the invasion “unprovoked.”

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky inked a formal EU membership request, calling on the bloc to accept his country as soon as possible. He reinforced his plea in a speech delivered in the European Parliament, during which he urged the 27 member states to show they were “indeed Europeans.”

“Prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us go. Prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness,” Zelensky told MEPs, eliciting a standing ovation.

Kiev’s bid received support from a number of Eastern European member states, with the leaders of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic penning an open letter that urged the Council of Europe to “conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations.”

Senior officials gave a reserved reaction to Ukraine’s aspirations, warning that no fast-track procedure to accept a country existed, and that every nation was required to meet various political and economic requirements to be granted merely candidate status.

Some individual EU member states have reportedly opposed Kiev’s aspirations, too. Such countries, of which only Germany and the Netherlands have so far been named, “want to focus on delivering practical support to Ukraine and ending the war, rather than embarking on a process that could take at least a decade,” Bloomberg reported on Monday.