Lithuania’s president on Tuesday denounced his French counterpart’s idea to build a broader political club beyond the EU, saying it signals a lack of political will to further integrate Ukraine in the wake of its invasion by Russia.
Ukraine applied to join the EU soon after Russia invaded, yet some in the West are hesitant even to grant it candidate status as they seek to avoid the possibility of a fast track to membership.
On Monday, Emmanuel Macron said it would take “decades” for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU, and suggested building a broader political club that could also include Britain, which left the EU in 2020.
“My impression is that this is an attempt to cover up the obvious lack of political will to take decisive decisions on granting candidate status,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told journalists.
“This is certainly not good, and I think that before making such proposals, one should ask Ukraine’s opinion on such proposals and whether they meet its existing expectations,” he added.
Lithuania is one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine’s EU accension bid, though Nauseda admitted that it could take years.
“We are not naive and we understand that there will be more than one, more than two, and, perhaps, even more than eight years between the moment Ukraine is granted candidate status for EU membership and its full-fledged membership,” he said.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said that the EU executive would give its “opinion” on Ukraine’s membership bid in June.
Formally adopting the country as a candidate would be a decision for the 27 EU member states acting on expert advice from von der Leyen’s commission, which would oversee the complex and potentially lengthy accession process.
Ukraine will notably have to meet rigorous standards in governance, fight corruption and apply the rule of law before it could be admitted as a member.