All news

EU candidate status is "consolation prize" for Kiev for not joining NATO, expert says

At the same time, such decision is a kind of consolation prize, a compensation for refusal to admit Ukraine to NATO

MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. The decision to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership was made in gross violation of EU traditions and stemmed from purely geopolitical motives, the desire to keep Kiev in the orbit of West European influence, the deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, Dmitry Suslov, told TASS on Friday.

"This is an absolutely token gesture, a political decision by the European Union, taken for geopolitical reasons. It is intended to emphasize that the EU will not give Ukraine away into a so-called Russian sphere of influence. The European Union thereby institutionalizes Ukraine's presence in the Western orbit and provides it with political support," said Suslov, an expert of the Valdai discussion club.

At the same time, he sees this decision is a kind of consolation prize, a compensation for refusal to admit Ukraine to NATO. "This is an acknowledgment that Ukraine will not join NATO. The issue will be removed from the agenda de facto, and after the end of the special operation and a political settlement, it will finally dropped de jure. Ukraine is given an alternative, a consolation prize packaged as the status of a candidate for joining the EU," he said.

Suslov stressed that by deciding to grant the candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, the EU "grossly and fundamentally violated its own traditions and fundamental rules." The EU, he said, has always emphasized that the association is integrational, that decisions on an expansion or on granting the status of a candidate are determined entirely by legal factors, and not geopolitical ones. "This time, the decision was completely, 100% determined by geopolitical factors, because from the standpoint of regulatory and legal characteristics, Ukraine is not at all suitable either for membership, or for candidacy. Even Georgia has moved much farther along the path of reforms, but it has been denied the status a candidate precisely for geopolitical reasons," Suslov stressed. This indicates that the European Union is drifting towards a geopolitical entity, rather than an integrational one. "It is becoming NATO's apprentice," he remarked.

In the EU’s antechamber

At the same time, the decision does not imply any specific consequences for Ukraine or Moldova. "The status of a candidate does not mean the immediate beginning of accession talks. Negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union may begin not when the special operation is over, but only after the final settlement of the conflict. Accession negotiations with Moldova may begin after the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, which is also not a matter of the foreseeable future. And, of course, these negotiations can last indefinitely," the expert stressed.

He drew attention to the fact that many in Europe have been already saying outright that the status of a candidate was granted to Kiev and Chisinau as an exception, while at the stage of joining the EU there should be no exceptions and no "fast tracking". "The EU is already experiencing serious problems from over-enlargement. Besides, the EU proceeds from the fact that Ukraine and Moldova cannot enter into an alliance earlier than the countries of the Balkan Peninsula - Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. As for accession negotiations, the EU will adhere to tough practices and demand fundamental internal changes from Ukraine, for which Ukraine is objectively not ready," Suslov said.

Therefore, Ukraine, he believes, will remain in the status of a candidate "in the EU’s antechamber" for a long time and it will be possible to talk about the real entry prospects in earnest no sooner than in two or three decades’ time. Or never, the expert stressed.