The heads of state and government of the EU meet this Thursday and Friday. And on the table they have the decision on the status of a candidate country for Ukraine and Moldova. Everything indicates that there will be no surprises, and the 27 will adopt the favorable evaluation of the European Commission. But, just in case, this Wednesday the president of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen, summoned the leaders on the eve of the summit: “It is now up to the European Council to decide and live up to the historical responsibility to which we we face”.
Von der Leyen has sought a parallel between the accession of Ukraine, Moldova and the request of Georgia with past enlargements within a path towards democracy from authoritarian regimes. “The history of our Union is that of young democracies that are strengthened together”, said the head of the Community Executive: “It is the history of the rebirth of Germany after the War. It is Greece, Spain and Portugal going from dictatorship to democracy in the mid-1970s. It is the democratic awakening that brought down the Iron Curtain. It is the long road to reconciliation in the Western Balkans. A path that must lead the six countries of the Western Balkans to join our Union. And the next chapter is being written today by the brave people of Ukraine and by all of us who must accompany them on their European journey. Once again, this is Europe’s time. And we must take advantage of it.”RELATED
“Since the first days of the Maidan”, Von der Leyen has said, “Ukraine has bravely resisted Russian aggression. From repression to uprising. It went through territorial annexation, and now open warfare. It is the only country where people have been shot for wrapping themselves in a European flag. Ukraine has been through hell for one simple reason: her desire to join the European Union.”
Von der Leyen explained that “the European Commission has explicitly responded to this wish. The opinion that we presented last week recognizes Ukraine’s aspirations. It recognizes the immense progress Ukraine’s democracy has made since the Maidan protests of 2014. Our opinion stems from a careful and comprehensive assessment of the reality on the ground. And this evidence tells us that Ukraine deserves a European perspective. And also the status of a candidate with the understanding that the country will carry out a series of additional important reforms.”
The president of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Iratxe García, said in the debate: “The horizon of integration is the only vaccine to overcome historical resentments between our countries and our communities, to avoid wars and promote peace. As happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is time to give a new impetus to enlargement, no one from outside, no outdated dictator will be able to exclude those who deserve to enter the Union in their own right”.
On the other hand, he has summoned the Council to fulfill its promises, because “when it does not keep its word, it damages the image of the Union”. “We must keep our promises and send a clear message: the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union, and they deserve an orderly, credible and predictable accession process, based on their merits”, he pointed out, recalling that North Macedonia is a candidate country for 17 years, and has been waiting 13 to start negotiations.