Scholz Delivered ‘Hidden Message’ to Zelensky During Kiev Visit: Report
16:33 GMT 19.06.2022 (Updated: 11:44 GMT 09.02.2023)
© Photo : YouTube / Ihr ProgrammGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 16 June 2022. Screengrab from video.
© Photo : YouTube / Ihr Programm
The German chancellor, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited the Ukrainian capital on Thursday for talks with Volodymyr Zelensky. The German leader’s visit followed months of foot-dragging caused by Kiev’s snub of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ahead of his own planned trip to the country in April.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivered a “hidden message” to President Zelensky during the 16 June visit to Ukraine, letting him know that Berlin would not provide Kiev with any shortcuts to European Union membership, Welt has reported.
“Even in the context of the political event of the visit, Scholz remains the most cautious. The leaders of Europe’s three main economies are in favour of Ukraine being granted candidate status for EU membership. That is the message. But while Macron and Draghi speak of a ‘path’ that has now begun, Scholz speaks of a ‘path full of prerequisites’. It’s semantics, but something to take seriously,” the newspaper noted in a lengthy review summarizing the diplomatic mission.
For Ukraine to be admitted into the bloc, it would need to step up the fight against “notorious corruption” and build a functional, constitutional state with a liberalized economy, all of this impossible so long as the conflict with Russia continues, Welt notes. At the same time, the EU itself must also “change” before a very large country like Ukraine could join, replacing the principle of unanimity in major decision-making with majority rule.
The concept of proportional representation, replacing the one EU commissioner per country rule “should also be overcome,” the newspaper noted, citing sentiments reportedly expressed in Berlin.
“Nobody says so officially, but considerations in the chancellery are as follows: that only a fundamentally reformed union would be capable of expansion,” Welt stressed.
17 June 2022, 10:05 GMT
Scholz’s schoolmaster-style approach stood at odds with sentiments expressed by European Commision President and former German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, who tweeted Friday upon the chancellor’s return to Berlin that Ukrainians were “ready to die for the European perspective,” and that the bloc wants “them to live with us for the European dream.”
The EC recommended granting Ukraine EU candidate status on Friday, with a formal decision to be taken by bloc leaders at their upcoming 23-24 June summit in Brussels.
Observers have warned that a move to include Ukraine in the bloc could spark its collapse, or turn it into a dysfunctional and incoherent mess of contradictions. On Sunday, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev suggested that the EU could collapse altogether before Ukraine joins, and predicted that membership would not be possible until the middle of the century in any case.
Croatia had to wait about ten years before joining the bloc in 2013. Turkey, which was comparable in the 1980s to contemporary Ukraine in terms of population, economic development and political and inter-ethnic strife, applied for membership in the European Economic Community, the EU’s predecessor, in 1987, and was declared eligible to join the EU in 1999, but has yet to hear back from Brussels.