Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again stated Ukraine’s willingness to join the European Union and said that no alternative option to joining the Brussels-based bloc is acceptable.
Zelensky was speaking during an appearance on the Dutch television channel NOS. In his comments, the Ukrainian president responded to recent statements by a number of global political leaders about alternatives to EU membership for Ukraine.
Asked by a NOS journalist about the idea of French President Emmanuel Macron creating a “parallel organization” for countries who want to join the EU – notably, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova – Zelensky said: “We don’t need such an alternative.”
“All we want is support from these countries, but we don’t want the alternative.”
The NOS journalist then asked about how Zelensky felt about the recent address by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the Ukrainian parliament, where he didn’t mention Ukraine’s possible EU membership.
Zelensky said that he had had a phone call with Rutte on this issue.
“I was very frank with him: if you think we don’t belong to the EU, you should tell this to us directly,” Zelensky said.
According to him, Rutte offered the following explanation: The EU has an open-door policy toward Ukraine, but “some additional steps are needed.” Zelensky added that Dutch society mostly supports Ukraine’s potential membership of the EU, so this is the reason why politicians of this country should be supportive too, as they are elected by the people.
The Ukrainian president added that Ukraine was ready to become a candidate member for EU accession and is prepared to carry out the necessary reforms. Obtaining candidate status would be an important signal for Kyiv that would make the country stronger in its fight against the Russian invasion, he said.
On May 9, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Ukraine’s accession to the EU might take a few years.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, meanwhile, has said that anything less than EU membership would be considered in Ukraine as a betrayal by the European countries.
Earlier, Zelensky already refused to accept any alternative to the EU membership, though admitted that the candidate status would be helpful. He called hesitations about Ukraine’s European choice a compromise between Europe and Russia.
On May 24, Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, said that Ukraine wasn’t likely to be able to join the EU quickly.
On May 27, Corriere Della Sera, a popular Italian newspaper, revealed that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed that Zelensky create a new European alliance that would be an alternative to the EU.
Corriere Della Sera journalists, analyzing their sources, assumed that such an alliance could also include Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and maybe Turkey.
So far, the list of EU candidate members includes Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.