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Ukraine’s bid for accelerated EU membership may end in disappointment | Ukraine

In his final video address to the nation on Wednesday morning, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was seeking to erase Ukraine, its history and its people as he reiterated his call for the EU to fast-track its membership application: ” Now is not the time to be neutral.”

There is an urgency to the appeals of the Ukrainian president and, naturally, as the images of the carnage in Ukrainian cities return to Brussels, there is great sympathy for his cause.

A moving speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, in which Zelenskiy pleaded with the union to “prove you’re with us”, won a long standing ovation and a resounding endorsement from MEPs in a non-binding resolution calling on Ukraine to secure EU candidate status.

Kyiv’s urgency appears to stem from an analysis of a potential “way out” of the conflict with Russia, according to EU officials in almost daily talks with Zelenskiy’s administration.

If anything approaching consistency can be gleaned from Vladimir Putin’s demands of the Ukrainians, it is that the country must be demilitarized, neutral, and should have no prospect of joining the military alliance of NATO.

These instructions are obviously unreasonable to give to a sovereign government. But if there is a diplomatic way out of the crisis, sources suggest that some kind of fig leaf to Putin on the military side could be part of a deal if Kiev was convinced that its political future, at least, rested firmly on the EU.

“I think one of the reasons why this is important for President Zelenskiy is also potentially in some of the talks with Russia about an exit,” an EU official said. “I see myself in the European Union as a project founded and based on peace, the resolution of conflicts through dialogue by working together. I don’t think the European Union is used to presenting a military threat to its partners.

A series of talks with Kremlin representatives have been concluded, but further sessions are expected.

Ukrainian president receives standing ovation after speech in European Parliament – ​​video
Ukrainian president receives standing ovation after speech in European Parliament – ​​video

The official added: “I think that in any agreement that President Zelenskiy may reach with President Putin, obtaining the guarantee that there is support for Ukraine to one day belong to the European Union is likely to be very important for Zelenskiy and for the Ukrainian people. ”

Beyond the MEPs, the governments of the Baltic States, as well as several other countries including Greece, have indicated their support. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, replied that Ukraine was “one of us and we want it in the EU”.

But other EU capitals fear strongly that this is an emotional reaction that will lead to disappointment and bitterness.

Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are the current EU candidate countries. But Emmanuel Macron, the French President, forcefully pointed out that given the EU’s inability to respond adequately to the democratic deficit in Poland and Hungary, or to find a way to have a coordinated foreign policy in Because of the rules of unanimity, there can be no enlargement until there has been a reform of the Treaties.

At an EU-Ukraine summit in 2008, then-President Viktor Yushchenko said that “the message he received from the EU was full of hope and promise”. But Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were among those who blocked any reference in a joint communiqué to a path to membership.

Today, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is the second most corrupt in Europe, ahead of Russia. He is now waging a war. Its future boundaries are unclear. And the road to membership is arduous. If the Council of the European Union agrees, the European Commission will be asked to deliver an opinion, and this process can take up to 18 months. Ukraine will then have to absorb EU law for an indefinite transition period.

It is expected that EU leaders will be invited to discuss Ukraine’s candidacy at an upcoming summit. There can be warm words. But Ukraine might be wise not to gamble heavily on what might turn out to be more hollow promises.