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France Sees EU Membership for Ukraine in '15 or 20 Years'

France Sees EU Membership for Ukraine in '15 or 20 Years'

Sunday, 22 May, 2022 - 14:45
French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune. AFP

A bid by Ukraine to join the European Union could not be finalized for “15 or 20 years,” France’s Europe minister said Sunday, pouring cold water on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hopes for a quick entry in the wake of Russia’s military operation in his country.

“We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying,” Clement Beaune told Radio J. “It’s probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time.”

“I don’t want to offer Ukrainians any illusions or lies,” he said, reiterating an offer by President Emmanuel Macron to create a looser “European political community” that could help integrate Ukraine with the bloc sooner.

Zelensky on Saturday denounced “such compromises” and insisted on an immediate start of the process towards full EU membership.

But according to AFP, Beaune said Macron’s proposal is not “an alternative to joining the European political community. It doesn’t prevent membership later on.”

Under Macron’s plan, “There could be free circulation in Europe, and it could benefit from the European budget for reconstruction and the revival of its country, society and economy,” he said.

Some EU leaders share France’s skepticism about a rapid acceptance of Ukraine’s membership bid, concerned that it will take time to rebuild a war-shattered economy, reduce corruption and adopt far-reaching economic and legal reforms.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there were “no shortcuts” to joining and the ascension process “is not a matter of a few months or years”.

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