Instead of signing up to France’s proposed larger “European political community” anti-chamber, Ukraine must become a full candidate to join the EU, President Vladimir Zelensky said on Saturday.
Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Zelensky told reporters in Kiev, “We do not need an alternative to Ukraine’s application to join the European Union. We do not need such an agreement.”
French President Emmanuel Macron raised the hackles in Ukraine on May 9, suggesting that the country could take “decades” to become a full EU member and instead aspire to join a “European political community”, a kind of anti-chamber for the European Union.
Ukraine must meet strict governance standards, fight corruption and uphold the rule of law before being admitted to the EU.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February to thwart Kiev’s inclination to integrate with the EU and NATO.
But Zelensky was adamant on Saturday that his country should be allowed to begin the process of becoming a full EU member.
“Because, believe me, it will not be a compromise with Ukraine in Europe, it will be another compromise between Europe and Russia. I am absolutely sure about that,” he said.
“This is the influence and political and diplomatic pressure of Russian officials and lobbyists on the decision of a European country to support Ukraine or not,” he continued.
Macron’s “European Political Community” initiative will be debated at the EU summit in late June. The French leader suggested that Britain, which withdrew from the EU after the referendum, could join such a grouping.
But some European leaders have already criticized the idea.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said last week, “I think this is an attempt to cover up the apparent lack of political will to make decisive decisions on candidate status.”
On Friday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also poured cold water on Macron’s idea.
“My choice is to build on the framework that we have already worked on successfully, be it the G7 or NATO,” he said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)