Brussels/Kyiv – One day after the trip to Kyiv by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his colleagues from Italy, France and Romania, Ukraine can hope for further support for its ambitions to join the EU.
Around noon, the EU Commission in Brussels wants to make its recommendation on how to deal with the Ukrainian application for EU membership. There will also be recommendations and analyzes of Moldova’s and Georgia’s applications for membership.
According to dpa information, the authority, headed by Ursula von der Leyen, is likely to advocate giving Ukraine and Moldova the status of EU accession candidates. At the same time, according to information from Commission circles, it should be made clear that further progress in the accession process should be linked to specific conditions. Ukraine is therefore concerned with progress in the rule of law and in the fight against corruption.
According to Commission sources, Georgia, which is also aiming to join the EU, will only be granted candidate status after certain conditions have been met. Like Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, the country would initially only be a potential candidate for accession.
Based on the recommendation of the EU Commission, the EU states must decide how to proceed. So far, the governments’ views on the subject have differed widely. According to diplomats, countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands consider the granting of candidate status to the three states in Eastern Europe to be premature and purely symbolic.
Germany wants Ukraine as an EU candidate
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and French President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, spoke in Kyiv on Thursday in favor of Ukraine becoming a candidate for accession. Germany and France argue that the candidate status does not anticipate the admission decision, nor is it associated with a time frame. For example, Turkey has been a candidate for accession since 1999.
Scholz said the evening before on ZDF’s “heute journal” that Ukraine’s path to the EU was “a very demanding one” that could also take “a very long time”. However, the status as a candidate for accession means that hope on the way to Europe becomes concrete for the people of Ukraine. Regarding the time horizon, the SPD politician said that no one could seriously answer that. “But it’s worth it, that’s the message.”
On ZDF and ARD, the chancellor named progress in the rule of law and the fight against corruption as prerequisites for EU accession.
Zelenskyj sees “historic day” for Ukraine
After the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in his evening video address of a “historic day” for his country. Never since its independence has Ukraine come so close to the European Union. Thanks to the courage of Ukrainian men and women, Europe can write a new history of freedom “and finally eliminate the gray area between the EU and Russia in Eastern Europe”.
Shortly after the start of the Russian war of aggression on February 24, Ukraine submitted an application for acceptance into the EU. The EU states then instructed the EU Commission to deal with it and make a recommendation. A decision by the EU heads of state and government on Ukraine’s application for membership could be made at the next summit, which begins next Thursday in Brussels.
What about other candidate countries?
Linked to the question of Ukraine’s candidate status is dealing with other states hoping for concrete prospects of joining the EU. Austria’s Chancellor Nehammer, for example, declared immediately before the EU Commission’s recommendation that his country would only agree to the candidate status for Ukraine if the same procedure was followed with Bosnia-Herzegovina. “We need to ensure that the same standards are applied as for other Western Balkans applicant countries. Against this background, it would be inconceivable for me to grant Ukraine candidate status and at the same time keep countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina on the sidelines,” Nehammer told Welt.
It must be ensured that the EU applies “the same standards” to Ukraine as it does to other applicant countries from the Western Balkans. “There must be no double standards or even first and second class applicants,” he said.
The Western Balkan state of Bosnia-Herzegovina had already submitted an application for membership at the beginning of 2016 and has only been considered a “potential candidate for membership” for years. Nehammer stressed that it was undisputed that Ukraine was “part of the European family”.
Romania’s head of state Iohannis also wants Moldova and Georgia to have candidate status. “Guaranteing EU candidate status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia at next week’s European Council is essential to building a strong and enduring shield around our values,” he said in Kyiv.
Heavy Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine
According to their leadership, the Ukrainian troops in the east of the country are still under heavy Russian fire with artillery and multiple rocket launchers. On Thursday evening, the general staff primarily named the cities of Sievjerodonetsk and Lyssychansk and their surroundings, which have been fought over for days. At two other points on the front, on the other hand, it had been possible to ward off enemy advances.
The information was initially not verifiable. In the Kharkiv region, Russian troops used artillery fire to prevent Ukrainians from advancing closer to the border between the two countries, sources said. Russian relief attacks are being carried out on sections of the front near the city of Donetsk and near Zaporizhia in order to tie down Ukrainian troops.
That’s going to be important today
The International Economic Forum is being held in St. Petersburg, to which far fewer foreign guests have come this year because of the war. Nevertheless, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to use this stage and explain how he intends to further develop the resource superpower despite the sanctions.
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