It seems, not everyone is keen to welcome Ukraine into the European Union, as Austria’s foreign minister has thrown a spanner into the works for the Eastern European country – by voicing his concerns and opposition to Ukraine joining the bloc.
Alexander Schallenberg, while attending a media summit in Lech am Arlberg Austria, said that rather than Ukraine joining the EU, the European Union and Ukraine should instead work out alternative ways of strengthening ties.
According to the Austrian tabloid Heute, Schallenberg said, “A connection to a state like Ukraine does not necessarily have to happen through full membership.”
The Die Presse also reported that Schallenberg reportedly said that full membership to the EU was unnecessary as there are other options for connections without the membership and that officials are currently producing “ready-made templates,” creating a new type of alliance – fully integrated with the EU, such as energy but not a formal member.
The EU has, however, offered to fast-track the path to membership for Ukraine, because of the Russian invasion, something that could have been avoided all together, if Ukraine had not harbored ambitions of joining NATO.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the press conference with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that, “It will not be, as usual, a matter of years, but rather a matter of weeks,” regarding Ukraine’s possible membership.
The Austrian foreign minister did not give specific reasons for his opposition to Ukraine joining the EU, but noted that other countries have been trying to join the EU for years and that those other countries should not be forgotten simply because of the situation unfolding in Ukraine.
Countries like Serbia, officially applied to join the EU in 2009, but they are still going through the process of negotiations. Schallenberg’s comments suggest that it is possible Austria may well prevent Ukraine from joining as there needs to be a unanimous vote in order to join.
A spokesman for the Ukraine foreign ministry, expressed his disappointment in the comments from Schallenberg.
Oleg Nikolenko, reportedly told the Ukrinform news agency, that Ukraine considers the foreign minister’s comments and beliefs “to be strategically short-sighted and not in the interests of a united Europe.
“Such statements also ignore the fact that the vast majority of the population of the EU founding member states support Ukraine’s membership,” Nikolenko said.
Perhaps, those in the EU are not wanting to inherit Ukraine’s war with Russia, as now would be the worst time to add Ukraine to the bloc. Russia repeatedly asked Ukraine to declare it had no intentions to join NATO. If Ukraine joins the EU, they will automatically be under that umbrella.
Schallenberg was right to have his doubts and express his concerns, there are far reaching consequences and some will be unintended, but not welcoming a country known for its neo-Nazi sympathizers and corrupt financial dealings, it may be prudent to avoid that train wreck.