Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has voiced his concerns over joining the European Union in a virtual speech to Sciences Po Paris students. President Zelensky formally submitted a completed questionnaire on EU membership handed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – a process that is likely to take years if not decades, according to observers. And it remains unclear whether Ukraine will eventually formally join the EU.
Speaking to Sciences Po students, President Zelensky said: “I think that’s unfair.”
“Ukraine is a full-fledged country of Europe that respects the countries of the European Union but at the same time wants the same respect.
“No more but no less.”
President Zelensky was reminded of the years-long EU membership process by the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock who said on a visit to Kyiv that there can be “no shortcut” for Ukraine.
To make up for that long process, French President Emmanuel Macron put forward the idea of creating a political European community that would allow Ukraine to join Europe’s security architecture.
However, he also pointed out that “the process to allow Ukraine to join would take several years indeed, probably several decades.”
President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet the European Commission “will aim to deliver its opinion (on Ukraine’s membership) in June.”
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President Zelensky continued: “Our entry will only strengthen the European Union but we cannot be kept at a distance.
“Take us into the European Union and at the same time not take us in.”
Drawing an analogy between the EU-Ukraine relations and a couple, he said uncertainty could lead Ukraine to look for other partners.
“It’s like in a couple, that couple that has lived together for years and when one promises the other: yes, of course. Soon we will get married. I can see our future life together.
“But the years go by and if they are just promises, then uncertainty sets in.
“And if you are not sure about your half, then can you count on that half? Can we rely (on each other) in critical situations?”
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“And if this situation remains uncertain, then you have to change and look for another partner or something else,” added President Zelensky.
“You can’t stay in this uncertainty constantly.
“It’s like a table where the whole family is together. You’re invited but you haven’t got a chair.”
When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started in late February, President Zelensky called for the “immediate accession” of his country to the EU.