Michel tries to reassure Ukraine, Moldova as unease grows ahead of key EU summit
Ukraine’s and Moldova’s hopes for an opening of EU accession talks took centre stage in Kyiv on Tuesday (21 November) as visiting European Council President Charles Michel sought to reassure them that their accession process remained a priority for the bloc.
“The entry of Ukraine and Moldova into the EU is a strategic interest of ours and I will do everything possible to ensure that the European Council starts negotiations in December,” [European Council President Charles] Michel said in Kyiv, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Moldova’s President Maia Sandu.
EU leaders will hold a summit in Brussels on 14-15 December where they will discuss whether to greenlight the start of the two Eastern Partnership countries’ accession talks.
“The opening of negotiations would send the message that the EU can be trusted and at the same time it would be a message of unity towards the Kremlin,” Michel said
“Ten years ago the Ukrainians rebelled to say yes to freedom and to Europe, against corruption and for the rule of law: it is a date that will go down in the history of our continent,” he added, referring to the start of Euromaidan protests in 2013.
Michel also said that the EU leadership will do everything to convince all 27 EU member states to take a positive decision in December.
Over the past year, both countries have been carrying out a series of reforms to win over EU members and advance their respective paths, amid an increasingly bleak outlook from Brussels, as EU officials have been voicing concern that the political decision to launch the talks next month could be “at risk”.
EU’s Michel lands in Kyiv as bloc looks at tough battle on Ukraine aid, accession talks
European Council President Charles Michel arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday (21 November) on yet another reassurance mission by a high-ranking EU official, just three weeks before a decisive end-of-year EU summit over support to Ukraine.
“I would like the opening of accession negotiations with Ukraine to be based on concrete facts, we do not expect gifts and we understand that this is a process of merit,” Zelenskyy said.
He added that the decision to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU in December would be “motivating” and “mobilizing” for Ukrainians.
“We respected the seven recommendations 100% and this decision would (…) show that we defend our values with facts and not just with words: I wish we would not give an extra victory to Vladimir Putin,” he added.
With Michel in town, Ukraine’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for several key anti-corruption legislation bills which had been recommended by Brussels to bolster Ukraine’s fight against corruption.
The measures include expanding the staff of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau and strengthening safeguards for the anti-corruption prosecutor.
On the battlefield, Kyiv’s counteroffensive against Russia has not achieved the breakthrough that many Ukrainians and its Western supporters had desired.
Concerns have also grown about the sustainability of billions of euros in vital Western economic and military assistance for Ukraine.
“Everyone can be an elephant in the room,” Zelenskyy said when asked by reporters whether he expects obstacles to the decision to open accession talks.
Sandu said both countries believe that “the European Union does not want to give Putin the right of veto in the European Union”.