We don’t deserve a ‘Bosnian scenario’ on EU candidate status – EURACTIV.com
Failure to grant Ukraine EU candidate status later this month would signal to Russia Europe’s weakness and could plunge the country into the waiting room of perpetual enlargement, said Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s foreign policy adviser, Ihor Zhovkva, told EURACTIV.
“We are not asking for membership, we are asking for the first step,” Zhovkva said, speaking to EURACTIV shortly after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s surprise second visit to Kyiv on Saturday (June 11th).
Zhovkva said the European side had not requested any additional information from the Ukrainian government, and he hoped this was a sign that the executive would be “satisfied with the amount of work done and the level of information provided.”
“We are optimistic about the European Commission’s decision, but we understand that the debate at the European Council will be important,” Zhovkva said.
The EU executive is expected to deliver its opinion on Ukraine’s candidate status next Friday (June 17), giving EU leaders about a week to study the document before deciding on the issue at a a crucial EU summit on 23 and 24 June.
The document would come with conditions related to the rule of law and anti-corruption legislation, EURACTIV understands.
“We are not saying that 100% has been achieved in the rule of law or on other matters, and we are ready to work on it,” said Zhovkva, adding that important work has been done in drafting and completing the Association Agreement.
“Yes, work needs to be done, but it’s hard to do in wartime,” the Ukrainian official said, adding that he hopes EU institutions and member states will recognize this.
“But if we are talking about EU candidate status, does it have to be 100% achievement? Definitely not. Before getting candidate status, no country had it 100%,” he said.
Zhovkva also rejected any alternative model to the EU enlargement process, including French President Emmanuel Macron’s rather vague proposal, which would see Ukraine and others enter a larger, second-tier framework without granting the full membership.
“No ‘potential’ candidate status – we don’t deserve a Bosnian script,” Zhovkva said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a potential candidate for EU membership since 2003. Yet since then very little progress has been made, and the lack of certainty has been held partly responsible for the growing fragmentation between the three political factions in the country.
“No potential candidate, no candidate for a candidate, no semi-candidate, just a candidate,” he stressed.
In recent weeks, senior Ukrainian officials have toured European capitals in recent weeks in a concerted diplomatic push ahead of the meeting.
Some member states, including Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal, remain skeptical of Kyiv’s bid, while a majority, including many eastern Europeans and Italy, support it.
Asked if he sees the tide turning in these hesitant countries, Zhovkva said many of those who expressed reservations in bilateral meetings would wait for the Commission’s opinion.
When asked if Ukraine expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a bolder military move in the event of a positive decision, Zhovkva replied: “We don’t have to afraid of what Russia will or will not do before or after this decision. ”.
EU member states should not be afraid of this “because the whole of Europe is its target”, he said.
“We shouldn’t think about Russia’s reaction. We should think about the reaction of the Ukrainians which is more important. What will be the reaction of the Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the trenches, of the citizens? he added.
“Failure to give a positive answer for your Ukraine in June will also be a failure for the whole EU because it will show that you are not ready for decisive decisions, too weak – and it will be a signal for Russia “, said Zhovkva.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]