Kyiv, Brussels After the summit with the EU in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is continuing to press for his country’s speedy accession to the European Union. “We are already speaking as members of the EU,” said Zelenskiy in a video message distributed in Kyiv on Friday evening. The status only has to be anchored in law.
The EU Commission, headed by President Ursula von der Leyen, stressed in Kyiv that Ukraine still had a long way to go before EU membership. On the other hand, Zelenski said that the EU representatives at the summit in Kyiv on Friday held the prospect of accession negotiations. “There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership of the European Union this year,” said Zelenskyy.
There were no such concrete statements from the EU side. In Kyiv, von der Leyen praised Selenski’s determination and willingness to reform, but also emphasized that there was still a lot to do. There is no schedule.
Selenski has high hopes for rapid EU membership. “We are preparing Ukraine for greater integration into the EU’s internal market – that means more income for Ukrainian companies, more production and jobs in our country. And more income for our state and local households,” he said. “That’s what really makes Ukraine stronger.”
Ukraine will do everything to ensure that Russian aggression becomes a “suicide” for Moscow. The EU has now welcomed his plan for peace in Ukraine. At the core of Zelensky’s plan is the withdrawal of Russian troops before negotiations begin. Russia, which controls nearly 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, rejects this suggestion as absurd.
Ukrainian ambassador in Germany is optimistic
After the summit, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, was also optimistic about joining the EU: “The message of this day is clear: Ukraine will become a member of the EU,” Makeiev told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”. (Saturday).
“It has never happened before that more than half the Commission traveled to a future accession country.” His country would “do everything to complete the accession process as quickly as possible,” said Makeiev. “Many EU member states have realized that in the case of Ukraine one has to give up political restraint and come to faster decisions.”
Barley dampens hopes of Ukraine joining the EU soon
Meanwhile, the Vice-President of the EU Parliament, Katarina Barley (SPD), has dampened expectations of Ukraine’s rapid accession to the EU. “The fact that Ukraine was given candidate status so quickly was a very unusual process,” Barley said on Friday evening on ARD’s “Tagesthemen”.
The country must fulfill the same conditions as all other candidate countries. These included political, economic and legal criteria. “All three fields are far from being fulfilled.” It is not possible to prematurely include a country for special reasons. It is important “to be realistic about the Ukrainians”.
But there are also advantages associated with candidate status, especially financial support. Barley emphasized that the country was in the middle of a war, so it was unlikely that progress on the accession criteria would be made particularly quickly. “We support Ukraine in these steps, that’s very important, we will always be by their side.”
At their joint summit in Kyiv on Friday, the EU promised Ukraine its full support for its desire for membership in the near future, but gave no concrete perspective in terms of time. Council President Charles Michel rhetorically almost made Ukraine a member: “Your future lies with us in our common European Union. Their fate is our fate,” said the Belgian.
Russian war of aggression dominant topic of the security conference
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine will be the dominant topic at the Munich Security Conference. The world’s most important meeting of experts on security policy will take place from February 17th to 19th at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof. It is the first security conference since the beginning of the war. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov are expected in Munich from the Ukraine.
This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war:
In addition, around 40 heads of state and government, 90 ministers and several heads of international organizations have already confirmed their participation. These include French President Emmanuel Macron, EU Commission President von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as the conference management of the German Press Agency announced on request. She left it open whether, as in the past, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and US Vice President Kamala Harris will also take part.
Russian officials are not invited. “There is no sign of a bucking from the Russian government. It’s too bad for us to offer these war criminals in the Kremlin a stage for their propaganda with the Munich Security Conference,” said conference leader Christoph Heusgen of the dpa.
But prominent Russian opposition politicians would come to Munich, including the former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, the journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri Muratov and Julia Navalnaja, the wife of the imprisoned opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
What will be important on Saturday
The battle for Bakhmut in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk is particularly fierce. Zelenskyy emphasized that the “fortress” strategically important for Ukraine will not be abandoned. The battle for the city is considered particularly bloody and costly. Bakhmut could be surrounded by Russian troops.
The head of the Russian private army Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, criticized Telegram that Zelenskyj resisted calls to withdraw Ukrainian troops. Bachmut is currently the “main event of this war”.
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