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9 Sep, 2023 18:49

Ukraine will be ready to join EU in two years – Kiev

The country might be accepted into NATO even sooner than that, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina has said
Ukraine will be ready to join EU in two years – Kiev

Ukraine should be ready to become an EU member in the next two years, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina told Voice of America on Friday. As Kiev’s official responsible for “European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” she says her nation is one of the “best prepared” for such a step.

“I believe that two years would be enough for full preparedness,” Stefanishina said, when asked about Ukraine’s EU prospects. She also vowed to do “10 times more than we do now” to achieve the goal once the conflict with Moscow ends. However, the minister admitted that the timeline would ultimately be determined by the “course of war.”

According to Stefanishina, Ukraine remains one of the “best prepared [nations] for the EU accession” since it is “a big part of the European economy” even in the midst of armed conflict. The country is one of the EU’s “top 20” import partners and the Ukrainian domestic market is “the biggest” on the territory of Europe, she stated.

At the same time, she admitted that Ukraine’s economic role in the EU would remain largely agricultural. “With all those agricultural lands… there can be no reality, in which Ukraine stops being an agrarian country,” she said.

The bloc itself has been in no rush to accept Kiev into its ranks. EU officials have refused to set specific timelines for Ukraine’s accession, saying that it must first address issues such as rampant corruption and introduce comprehensive legal reforms. In 2022, France said that the process might eventually take years.

In early September, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg warned that fast-tracking membership for Ukraine would spell “geostrategic disaster” since it would show that some nations are “more equal than others.” Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy also said on Friday that accepting the ex-Soviet republic into both the EU and NATO would increase Washington’s sway over the EU dramatically.

Kiev might also join NATO even sooner than the EU, Stefanishina proposed, saying that the US-led military bloc would be happy to have a member with “one of the strongest armies” after, she said, it beats Moscow. The minister admitted, though, that Ukraine’s accession to the alliance is a “political decision,” while still maintaining that this decision was “taken in Vilnius,” which hosted the latest NATO summit.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky produced a scandal at the meeting in mid-July, when he condemned NATO for what he called “indecisiveness” over a lack of a clear roadmap for Kiev’s membership. He allegedly angered US officials to the extent that they briefly considered withdrawing Ukraine’s invitation to the bloc. Then British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also criticized Kiev over its lack of gratitude for Western military aid, explaining that the US and its allies were “not Amazon.”