The EU will on Wednesday publish a report on Ukraine’s fulfillment of key demands in order to become a member of the bloc. If it has met the criteria it can move to formal accession talks.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said from Kyiv over the weekend that Ukraine has “already completed way over 90 per cent” of the bloc’s demands.
Although there are some concerns that 90 per cent’ isn’t 100 per cent, Ukrainian sources have told Euronews they’re hearing “positive noises” from technocrats involved in the process due to the war-torn country’s situation.
“It should be said that Ukraine has genuinely made enormous progress in regard to the EU criteria for accession. I would say more progress than any other candidate, state or aspiring candidate state,” John O’Brennan, professor of EU Law from Maynooth University, Ireland, told Euronews.
“And it’s all the more remarkable in a way, because they’ve done this in the context of fighting for their lives, literally.”
“Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Kyiv at the weekend to me signaled that the Commission is going to signal that talks with Ukraine should open now – I expect to see that Ukraine will probably be identified as the state that has made the most progress over the last 12 months,” he told Euronews.
Notwithstanding the optimistic outlook, the issue of so-called ‘deoligarchization’, where Kyiv is required to take robust measures to remove the influence of powerful oligarchs from the political system remains a concern given the deeply complex nature of untangling the practice from political culture.
This is “absolutely crucial”, Professor O’Brennan said. “But I think this process has begun and Ukraine has made genuine progress. I was really struck, for example, many months ago when the head of the Supreme Court in Ukraine was arrested and found with millions of euros.”
“To me, that was an indication of the real seriousness of this Ukrainian government in pursuing people, whether they were part of the public sector or whether they were private oligarchs.”
There is also the worry that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will block the process unless there is satisfactory movement on the issue of language rights for minorities – specifically Hungarian minorities living in Ukraine close to the Hungarian border.
“What Orbán is doing is stoking the ethnic minority in Ukraine to complain, to protest, and to suggest that they’re being discriminated against,” O’Brennan said.
“The thing that he and his acolytes have focused on most is the so-called language laws that were introduced in Ukraine in 2017. And what these seek to do is to ensure that minority languages such as Hungarian can be used within the school system. But it has to be balanced by the use of Ukrainian.”
Tymofiy Mylovanov, former Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, now President of Kyiv School of Economics also believes the matter shouldn’t railroad Ukraine’s path ahead as Zelenskyy has already made moves to deal with the matter.
“In fact, a law was passed to protect minority language, and President Zelenskyy has signed it,” he said.
But he warned the same won’t be said for ethnic Russian speakers given the nature of the brutal war being waged by Russia.
“There’s a discussion about language becoming a propaganda tool, people demand certain type of culture being taught in schools and that’s going to be a polarising issue for quite some time,” he told Euronews.
EU leaders will discuss the report at a December EU summit; where all will have to unanimously agree to green-light the opening of membership negotiations with Ukraine.
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