Ukraine had its hopes dashed of an easy and fast route into the European Union, after French President Emmanuelle Macron said that it could take years, even decades for Ukraine to join the Bloc.
“We all know perfectly well that the process to allow [Ukraine] to join would take several years indeed, probably several decades,” Mr. Macron said.
He added: “That is the truth, unless we decide to lower the standards for accession. And rethink the unity of our Europe.” Proposing that Ukraine have more of a symbolic membership in the meantime.
This caused a frustrated response from Ukraine and according to a report from Newsweek that a Ukrainian Rada parliament member and chair of the foreign policy committee member, Oleksandr Merezhko said that Macron’s proposal was “unacceptable to Ukraine.”
“Ukraine needs fully-fledged membership in the EU,” Merezhko explained. “We have fully deserved to be an EU member due to our fight for European values and Europe.” Adding, “One of the reasons why Russia is waging aggressive war against Ukraine is because Ukraine wants to be an EU member; Ukraine had a Revolution of Dignity to become an EU member.
“It is already in the constitution of Ukraine to become an EU member. And we don’t want to—and will not—change our constitution just because Macron has a different vision of our future.”
The comments came as Ukraine finished the second round of applications to join the EU and Macron acknowledged that if Ukraine were indeed waiting for years to join, it could demoralize Kyiv.
“We take the risk that they will despair, that they will give up,” the president said.
“Because there is this geographical proximity, they hold on to the same basic values, I would like to emphasize that once again, because Ukraine today is fighting for exactly that and taking all the risks for exactly that…we need to build a new political form, and not just a legal form.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide Mykhailo Podolyak, wrote on Twitter “Thousands of Ukrainians paid with their lives for the European choice, not for the new series of thimbles.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz noted that other countries that had applied to join the Bloc, might worry their own memberships will not be accepted if Ukraine is blocked from accession.
Scholz said Macron’s plan was “a very interesting proposal to deal with the big challenge that we are facing,” adding it was “absolutely necessary to find ways” for more non-member states to move closer to the bloc.
“It’s clear that this must and won’t dissuade us from the accession processes on which we are already working for so long,” Scholz warned, applauding the “courage” of the Western Balkan applicants.
Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine’s parliament and the leader of the liberal, pro-EU Voice party, told Newsweek that Macron risks alienating more than Ukraine.
“Pushing Ukraine back would be sending a negative signal to other countries that aim to become EU members soon. Right now, it does not seem a wise thing to do,” Rudik said. “Our aim is full EU membership, and we will be pushing towards that. I do not think, however, that Macron’s proposal would get support among the EU members.”