• Saturday, 13 July 2024

EU ambassadors agree on negotiating frameworks for Ukraine, Moldova

EU ambassadors agree on negotiating frameworks for Ukraine, Moldova

Brussels, 15 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) - EU ambassadors agreed in principle on the negotiating frameworks for the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova, the Belgian EU Council presidency said on Friday evening.

Their decision is due to be formally finalized at an EU ministerial meeting next week.

Originally, the EU countries actually wanted to discuss a 14th package of sanctions on Russia at their Friday meeting but Germany previously expressed concerns about the plans, which have not yet been resolved.

The agreement to start accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova is an important sign, however, particularly for Kiev.

It comes the day before the Ukraine peace conference starts in Switzerland, seeking to gain the broadest possible international support for a Ukrainian peace plan with a complete withdrawal of Russia from Ukrainian territory.

Kiev applied for EU membership in February 2022, after Russia escalated the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine by launching a full-scale invasion of the country.

Moldova - where the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria has been a persistent security concern since a war in the early 1990s - asked to join a month later. Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, also applied in March 2022.

EU leaders formally recognized Ukraine and Moldova as candidates for membership one year ago, in June 2023.

They granted candidate status to Georgia in December 2023, at the same time as agreeing to open talks with Ukraine and Moldova.

The other official candidates are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

The European Commission said a week ago that it considers all conditions for the start of EU accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova to be fulfilled. These included measures to combat corruption, improve the protection of national minorities and limit oligarchs' political influence.

The start of accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova was already decided in principle at an EU summit in December, though at the time it was agreed that all reform requirements had to be met before negotiations could begin.

Another prerequisite was that all EU states agreed to the negotiating framework, which sets out guidelines and principles for the accession talks.

But Ukrainians on the ground, defending their country from Russia's ongoing invasion, are likely to be heartened by the sign that it is worth continuing their defence campaign against Moscow's forces.

It is unclear, however, how long it could take to join the EU once the talks begin. Turkey became an EU candidate back in 1999 - and is currently further away from membership than any other candidate country due to setbacks in the rule of law.

A further problem for Ukraine is that it is currently considered impossible for it to become an EU member before the end of Russia's war, as Kiev could then call for military assistance under Article 42, paragraph 7 of the EU Treaty, which would make the EU a party to the war.

MIA file photo