Macron says it will take ‘several DECADES’ for Ukraine to join the EU and warns Russia must not be ‘humiliated’ in any peace deal
- French president said the EU should not lowers its standards for Ukraine
- He proposed a new European organisation for countries not in the bloc
- He also warned against humiliating Russia like Germany after WWI
Emmanuel Macron has warned it could take decades for Ukraine to join the EU as he proposed a new political organisation on the continent.
During a speech marking Europe Day in Strasbourg, the French president said ‘we all know perfectly that the process of allowing (Ukraine) to join would take several years, in fact probably several decades.’
He added: ‘That is the truth, unless we decide to lower the standards for accession. And rethink the unity of our Europe.’
He also said that Europe must learn from its past mistakes to ensure Russia is not ‘humiliated’ in peace negotiations.
Macron spoke after the bloc’s executive arm, the European Commission, said it aims to deliver a first opinion in June on Ukraine’s request to become a member of the bloc.
Meanwhile European Council president Charles Michel had to run for cover during a visit to Odesa today as Russian missiles started raining down on the port city.
Emmanuel Macron has warned it could take decades for Ukraine to join the EU as he proposed a new political organisation on the continent
He and Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmygal were forced to hide in a shelter during the high-level talks.
One Ukraine’s candidate status is granted, the process of EU membership usually takes years and any single member-state can veto not only any final accession deal, but also the opening and closing of individual negotiation chapters.
The 27 EU nations have been fully united in backing Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, adopting unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow since the start of the war.
But leaders are divided on how fast Brussels could move to accept Ukraine as a member, and how swiftly the bloc could sever energy ties with Moscow.
Macron also warned there could be dire consequences if the West seeks overly punitive measures against the Kremlin, referencing the harsh response to Germany after WWI which helped fuel the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
Speaking to reporters in European Parliament today, Macron described Vladimir Putin’s WWII anniversary speech in Moscow’s Red Square to mark Russia’s Victory Day today as ‘intimidation’ and ‘warlike’.
European Council president Charles Michel was forced to hide in a shelter in Odesa with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal
Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops on a ‘day of great victory’ as he addressed a Victory Day parade in Moscow today
Addressing massed ranks of service personnel on Red Square on the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, Putin condemned what he called external threats to weaken and divide Russia.
Macron said on the one hand, Putin had sought to ‘show force, intimidation’ and deliver a ‘resolutely warlike speech’, while on the other the EU was working on deepening a peaceful project led by the people, Macron said.
‘I believe that this project of peace, of stability, of prosperity … (we) must continue to make it more democratic, more united, more sovereign,’ he said.
However, he warned that while Europe was now helping Ukraine, there would come a point when Moscow and Kyiv would seek peace and at that point neither side should be humiliated or excluded as had happened to Germany in 1918.
‘We must have this standard because we know that the coming weeks and months will be very difficult,’ Macron said, adding that the 27-nation European Union would continue to impose new sanctions on Russia.
Charles Michel said Russia would fail to ‘execute’ Ukraine’s ‘freedom’ on a surprise trip to Odessa
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that she discussed ‘EU support and Ukraine’s European pathway’ with Volodymyr Zelensky today.
For now, Ukraine only has an ‘Association Agreement’ with the EU, which is aimed at opening the country’s markets and bringing it closer to Europe. It includes a far-reaching free trade pact and is intended to help modernize Ukraine’s economy.
Eastern European countries warmly support speeding up Ukraine’s membership bid, but EU officials have stressed the process could take years due to the outstanding reforms that still need to be achieved before the war-torn country meets EU criteria.
Macron said a fast-track procedure for Ukraine would lead to lowering standards, an idea he refuses.
‘The European Union, given its level of integration and ambition, cannot be the only way to structure the European continent in the short term,’ he said.
Instead, Macron proposed what he called a ‘European Political Community’ which would be open to countries that haven’t joined the EU, or, like the United Kingdom, have left it.
Zelensky, who joined their talks by video conference, thanked Michel for visiting Ukraine on Victory Day
‘This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations that adhere to our core values to find a new space for political cooperation, security, energy cooperation, transport, investment, infrastructure, movement of people,’ Macron said.
Macron added that joining the new organisation would not guarantee future EU membership.
Meanwhile, Charles Michel said Russia would fail to ‘execute’ Ukraine’s ‘freedom’ on a surprise trip to Odessa.
‘The Kremlin wants to execute your spirit of freedom and democracy,’ Michel said in a video on Twitter.
‘I am totally convinced they will never succeed,’ he added, promising that the EU will help Ukraine ‘build a modern, democratic country.’
The EU chief said people in Ukraine are ‘tortured, raped and executed in cold blood,’ saying Ukrainians are ‘resisting with courage.’
Michel was forced to take shelter during an air raid as he talked with the Ukrainian prime minister.
‘It was an air raid during the first meeting with the PM. They simply continued their tete-a-tete in the shelter,’ a member of his entourage said.
Zelensky, who joined their talks by video conference, thanked Michel for visiting Ukraine on Victory Day, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
‘I am very pleased that today the European Union, at the highest level, supports Ukraine at a time when manifestations of Nazism, unfortunately, exist and are being revived,’ he said in a statement from his office.
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