President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request will be discussed at the meeting Thursday evening. Mark Rutte does not answer the question whether the Netherlands supports or opposes Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. “It is not an issue now, because it may take years for a country to become a member. It is a slow process and it must be considered first by the Council and the Commission,” he said at the start of the summit. Only then will we discuss what other member states think about it. I told Zelensky last week: I want to see what we can do in the short term to work more closely together. We’re already doing this, and we can deepen that.”
Rutte does not in any case support the accelerated admission procedure for Ukraine, which Zelensky demanded. He is not alone in this. Almost all the countries I spoke to in Western Europe say you shouldn’t do that. I also told Zelensky that there is no such measure at all.” Ruta fears it has precedent. “We also have countries in the Western Balkans that have been seeking membership for years, such as Albania and North Macedonia. We are all family, let’s see what we can practically do.”
Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives at Versailles.
Ⓒ Image ANP / HH
It is not yet clear what exactly “close cooperation” means. “We can often meet with Ukraine and see what we can do on a practical level. In addition to what we are already contributing: providing defensive weapons, humanitarian aid, medicine and of course the sanctions that we have imposed.” According to the prime minister, the country “belongs to the European family.”
Host Emmanuel Macron said he was hesitant about Ukraine joining. “Can you start admissions procedures in a country at war? I don’t believe it. But should we shut the door and say it’s never possible? That would be unfair,” he said before opening the meeting.
On Thursday and Friday, heads of government will discuss the European Union’s response to the war in Ukraine. They will talk about increasing defense cooperation, reducing dependence on Russian gas, and building a stronger economic base. “We must unite to build a common Europe,” the French president said. He hopes for “historic decisions.”
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